Skip to main content

Dispatches From the First Day of Remote Learning

Elizabeth Albright's clamation background

Adapting to remote learning means much, much more than taking a lecture online. On Monday, faculty and students began the process of relearning how to do the hands-on educational experience that Duke is noted for, even if they are a continent apart.

The ingenious solutions that several have already developed are good indications that it will work.

Below are some snapshots from moments during the first day of remote learning:


Utterly Claymated

Nicholas Professor Elizabeth Albright needed a good backdrop for her virtual lecture. Wallace and Gromit would approve of her solution


What's Old is New

Philosophy Professor Andrew Janiak struggled to make his writings on a whiteboard visible on Zoom. So he returned to a tried and true method.




Garage Lab

Garage startups Apple, Google and Amazon have nothing on George Delagrammatikas, assistant chair and director of master’s studies in MEMS. Determined to keep students learning remotely, he has set up shop in his home garage to mimic—as best as it can—the lab he usually teaches in in Hudson Hall. When classes start, master's students in the MEMS capstone class will send him designs and computer files that he will 3D-print, prototype, assemble and test. As George says, “We’ll debug, redesign and improve these designs together over Zoom. The students provide the minds, I provide the hands.” The experiments will be used by all MEMS grads and undergrads in the new engineering building opening fall 2020, while simultaneously fulfilling the current students' graduate project requirements.

George Delagrammatikas garage lab

Zoom Failure

Duke employees have made great and creative use of Zoom virtual meeting software, including using Duke University backgrounds. But there are times when the technology just makes you a little too "virtual," as Pratt Professor Michael Gustafson found out.



Boldly Going

Biology Professor Mohamed Noor was more successful with his Zoom theme, showcasing himself on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.


Design Engineering Care Packages

Pratt senior design students working on a large animal pulse oximeter with Martin Brooke and Nan Jokerst of electrical and computer engineering this semester will receive care packages from their professors any day now. The packages will contain materials like soldering kits that will let the students continue to work on their projects at home. The devices use light to measure tissue properties—in lieu of working with animal tissue in the lab as in the past (pictured at left), however, the students will use Jell-O in their kitchens!

in lieu of working with animal tissue in the lab as in the past (pictured at left), however, the students will use Jell-O in their kitchens!

Professor's Little Helpers

Over in Law, Marin Levy found some assistance close to home in leading her class.