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Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development


Instructional Technology

Duren is currently seeking her MS in Education with a concentration in Instructional Technology and completing a graduate certificate in Online Teaching and Learning. Originally from Chaplin, Connecticut, she received her BS in Business Administration and an MS in Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and joined EPC in 2012. We asked her to reflect on some of her past and current experiences. Read her responses below.



  • Yamagata-Lynch, L. C., Do, J., Skutnik, A. L., Thompson, D. J., Stephens, A. F., & Tays, C. A. (2015). Design lessons about participatory self-directed online learning in a graduate level instructional technology course. Open Learning. 30(2) 178-189. doi:10.1080/02680513.2015.1071244


  • Feb. 2016 Conference Keynote Presentation: ” Educators Taking the Lead: Professional Development that Empowers YOU to Reach Your Goals” invited speaker with honorarium, Roane State Symposium on Powerful Teaching, Feb. 27, 2016
  • Feb. 2016 “Evaluating the Flipped Approach: How can it work for your learners?” & “Avoid the Talking Head: Creating Effective Educational Video;” invited speaker with honorarium, Liberty Technology Magnet High School, Jackson, TN (4 hour interactive workshop combining both sessions).
  • July 2015 “Evaluating the Flipped Learning Approach: Can it work for my adult learners?” invited speaker, Academy for Instructional Excellence, Nashville, TN (core/required session).
  • July 2015 “Avoiding the Talking Head: Creating Effective Educational Video” and “Learning Through Doing: Models for Flipped PD,” accepted speaker, FlipCon 2015, East Lansing, MI.
  • April 2015 “Evaluating the Flipped Learning Approach: Can it work for my adult learners?” accepted speaker, Commission on Adult Basic Education Annual Conference, TX.
  • Oct. 2014 “Evaluating the Flipped Learning Approach: Can it work for my ESL & EL/Civics learners?” invited speaker with honorarium, GA ESL & EL/Civics Summit, Forsyth, GA (blended, extended professional development).
  • May 2014 “Evaluating the Flipped Learning Approach: Can it work for my adult learners?” LINCS RPDC Region II online event (pilot of blended, extended online professional development for US DOE agency).
  • April 2014 “Avoid the Talking Head: Creating Engaging Online Instructional Video” (with Bill McNutt); accepted speakers, Technology and Learning Conference, Myrtle Beach, NC.
  • July 2013 “Social Media: Planned AE Program Marketing”; invited speaker Academy for Instructional Excellence, Nashville, TN.
  • Oct. 2012 “Learning Disabilities: Quick and Dirty Tips for Busy Adult Educators”;
    accepted speaker with honorarium, Georgia Adult Education Conference, Atlanta, GA.
  • Refer to Resume for more details


Current Occupation

Program Coordinator for Professional Development
Center for Literacy, Education & Employment, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

As CLEE is wholly contract and grant-funded, work responsibilities have varied widely due to assignments across dozens of education-related projects for adult literacy and K-12 professionals both statewide and nationally. Professional focus over the past 15 years includes effective internet-based instructional methods for professional development, design and implementation of effective educational accountability and evaluation tools and effective support for adults with learning disabilities.
Originally focused solely on technology-associated projects for the Division of Adult Education with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, my valued experience and expertise is now spread across multiple state and federally focused projects. Current responsibilities focus on leading collaborative projects in design, implementation, and evaluation of online, blended and face-to-face professional development via a variety of learning management and software tools. Asked to regularly serve as content expert and trainer at both state and national levels on a wide variety of topics, both face-to-face and via interactive webinars. Additional duties include assistance in grant writing, integration of social media tools into program management and instruction, graphic design/layout and basic web page design.

Personal Interests

UT Staff Advisor for the Thor’s Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Society student group on UT campus, as well as administrative and educational leader in the local and regional chapters of the Society for Creative Anachronism – a world-wide organization dedicated to the hands-on study and exploration of medieval life, culture and martial activities. Particular focus on Norse culture and textile arts (hand spinning, weaving, and natural dyeing).
Mother of eight-year-old daughter, Solvi, who is mastering 3rd grade in Knox County with only minor traumas.
Fan of fantasy and sci-fi books, games and films, currently fighting a Netflix addiction.



Future/Vocational Goals

At this time, I am happy in my current position at the UT Center for Literacy, Education, and Employment and hope that the skills and expertise gained via this program will assist the center in obtaining funding for applications of online learning and technologies for our target populations.
Through and beyond my work at the center, I wish to further establish myself as a leader, researcher and facilitative collaborator in the field of instructional technology and design for education professionals. In particular, I wish to a) continue my work in creating effective professional development learning environments, systems and activities for busy education professionals and b) conduct research and facilitate training that contributes to the effective transference of theory into everyday practice.

What would you tell an incoming student who joins the program/department?

As this program of study is delivered (almost) entirely online, each course provides you with not only the knowledge and skills listed on the syllabus, but also a model of how to structure and deliver instruction in online environments. Do not ‘fight’ the online nature of the program – consider it a valuable part of the learning process. Take the time to step back and evaluate each professor’s approach to the course, determine what is effective (and not), what feels comfortable to you (and isn’t) in order to build or enhance your own ‘toolbox’ of preferred approaches to online (and blended) learning.

What do you think has been the most rewarding/challenging about this program?

The structure of this program affords participants with the opportunity to learn from peers with a wide range of education and training perspectives. I am honored to have participated over a dozen rewarding course partnerships resulting in excellent instructional technology products. I greatly value the friendships I have gained through this process, with both peers and faculty and hope to continue building these friendships once I graduate.

Durent J. Thompson at a festival teaching an art.