Hello! I’m Colleen M. Smith. Notice the “M.” — my maiden name is Marquart.
I grew up in a small town in Tennessee, where the most technology-driven course available at my high school was “keyboarding.” My mom was an educator and scientist, and my dad was an engineer. You could say that these “ways of thinking” rubbed off on me while I was growing up. My transition to higher education from a small, rural, and low-income area shaped my world view and continues to influence how I design learning experiences today.
I decided to move away from my hometown to Purdue University, where I majored in Computer Graphics Technology with minors in Art & Design and Organizational Leadership & Supervision. From the beginning I was fascinated by people’s experiences within organizations, designing, and connecting to my content.
I loved how I grew and developed through my bachelors experience, so I tried it again by obtaining a Master’s of Education from Clemson University in the Counselor Education program. My assistantship was situated within University Housing and Residence Life, and I aided in training and selection of student leaders, graduate students, and staff. I started online recruitment initiatives for the graduate program that are still alive today.
Continuing my growth and development, I decided to enroll in a Doctor of Education program at Florida State University in Learning Design and Performance Technologies while in a digital learning position at UCF along side the Ronald E. McNair Scholars program.
As a professional, I focused mainly in transition and first-year experiences in higher education for underrepresented students in STEM. I found my home in grant-funded programs for STEM students at UMBC and UCF, and I used my educational background to creatively fuse technology, design, student development theory, and learning to develop innovative programs with online resources. This was my niche: innovation for inclusive learning.
My most recent position in higher education was tasked with ensuring that UCF undergraduates, especially first generation, low income and underrepresented students, who intend to pursue graduate school, have access to resources and opportunities to be a successful graduate school applicant. In this position, I have launched an online peer mentor program, online structured program, and created online modules to meet the needs of the students.
After designing learning for a professional consultancy company and freelancing, I’ve created my own business: Inclusive Online Learning Solutions, LLC. My services include consulting and building online learning environments and designing curriculum for inclusive learning experiences.
My unique background and experiences are an asset for my career and research. I combine my career experiences with the learning design field to use a fresh perspective when skeptically observing a phenomenon that is usually an industry norm. My research interests include culturally inclusive instructional and media design, “Designers-by-Assignment” training and expertise in inclusive development services in higher education, and informal learning of metacognitive reflection and non-cognitive skills for success in higher education.
I’ve published, along with my colleague, Dr. Staudt Willet, my work on the Culturally Sustaining Instructional Design Model. I have created products to help individuals and teams reflect and create a more inclusive–and culturally sustaining– online learning environment for their learners.
Looking to continually strengthen my knowledge and skills to help those in underrepresented communities, my aim is to connect the implications of my research to innovation in the fields of learning theory, instructional design, student development, and media design in the digital learning and instructional systems spaces.