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How Duke Faculty are Using Publishing to Teach

How Duke Faculty are Using Publishing to Teach

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A grad student listens to the panel speakers at the Edge.Mark Twain is thought to have said that he never let his schooling interfere with his education. And while coursework, lectures, and testing have considerable weight in the classroom for good reason, instructors are increasingly turning to innovative teaching methods that inspire students to continue with their education outside the structure of the classroom.

For some Duke instructors, this means using publishing to actively engage their students in the learning process. These publishing projects are typically student-led, but inspired by the instructor’s curriculum and instructional goals.

From blog posts to apps and videos, students are authoring original content they’re passionate about and sharing it widely with an audience of peers, professionals, and industry leaders.

A panel of faculty met in the Edge Workshop Room recently to discuss how they’ve incorporated publishing into their curriculum and what other instructors can do to make the most of this teaching method.

With an audience of graduate students, faculty, and staff in attendance, panelists discussed why they were first drawn to publishing as an instructional method, how they’ve guided student-led projects, and what educators can do to make the most of this approach with their students.

The panelists included:

  • Aria Chernik
    Director of OSPRI (Open Source Pedagogy, Research + Innovation) and Lecturing Fellow at SSRI
  • Mattia Begali
    Lecturing Fellow, Department of Romance Studies
  • Sandra Sotelo-Miller
    Lecturing Fellow, Thompson Writing Program
  • Erika Weinthal
    Professor of Environmental Policy, Nicholas School of the Environment

Drawing from their own experiences in the classroom, panelists shared examples of their students’ innovative published works and how the works related to specific instructional goals like improving digital literacy and networking with industry professionals.

Aria Chernik speaks during the panel discussion at Duke Libraries. Chernik, who has collaborated with Red Hat on open source learning strategies, was recently honored as one of eight “Instructors Who Champion Open Source Education” by the company.

During the panel, she discussed working in the community with Red Hat, leading Bass Connections project teams, and publishing student work online. For Chernik, it’s about positioning students as active participants in their education.

“Publishing, especially in open access publications, underscores for students that knowledge is communally constructed,” Chernik said. “It teaches essential skills necessary to contribute knowledge in the world today, such as articulating arguments across media, genre, and audience.”

As part of the OSPRI course Foundations of an Open Source World, computer science student Sophie Polson published an article on The article, 5 Approaches to Learning Python, was shared an incredible 128 times on Twitter and 509 times on Facebook. It was even used in another Python programming class in New York.

During the discussion, panelists made many references to the speed of information and how 21st education can and should respond to advancements that continue to shape a radically different job market than the ones graduates faced even recently.

“We know the world has changed and that education must respond to meet the needs and interests of 21st century students,” Chernik said.

This event was part of the Re: Publishing Series organized by Duke University Libraries. For other events in the series, more information on this event's panelists, and campus resources for non-traditional publishing visit

This event was co-sponsored by Duke University Libraries, Duke Learning Innovation (DLI), Digital Humanities Initiative, Digital Scholarship Services  (Duke University Libraries), Forum for Scholars and Publics, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, Office of Copyright & Scholarly Communication (Duke University Libraries), Office of Interdisciplinary Studies, PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge, Duke Initiative for Science & Society, and the Wired! Lab for Digital Art History and Visual Culture. 


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