Classes are just beginning at Piedmont Community College (PCC) as the fall semester is less than a month in. But, during the summer, the College’s faculty stayed busy preparing for the upcoming school year. Some restructured classes, others researched new teaching methods, and one sought out a new certification as society dives deeper into technology.

Shannon Turner, PCC’s Department Chair of Natural Sciences, used the summer to earn her Teaching Online Certificate from Quality Matters, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of online education and student learning. Turner said she learned PCC has a membership with Quality Matters, so she began researching workshops and eventually determined that learning more about online instruction could be a great overall benefit.

“I decided that the workshops required for the Teaching Online Certificate would help me create better courses in any delivery format,” Turner said. “I think teaching online is the most difficult for instructors, and I am always looking to improve my courses and my instruction.”

Turner received a financial award through the PCC Foundation for teaching excellence and used it to help fund the certification, but she also received some help from an unexpected source.

“I planned to pay for the workshops myself with the help of my Foundation award,” Turner said. “When I contacted Dr. Don Miller (PCC Dean, Learning Commons) about using the College’s membership to get the reduced rate, he offered to pay for the balance after my Faculty Excellence Award funds were expended.”

Quality Matters Teaching Online Certificate is an 11-week, seven-course process, with courses focused on subjects such as ‘Creating Presence in Online Courses,’ ‘Orienting Online Learners,’ and ‘Gauging Technology Skills.’ Turner said her experience with the program was full of opportunity to explore her teaching methods and how she can better her courses.

“The workshops are pretty short, but they set you on a path that can take you as far as you want to make improvements to your instruction,” Turner said. “There are several opportunities in each workshop to collaborate and discuss with other instructors, which was probably the most helpful aspect of the program.”

Turner explained that the workshop was more than learning new things to amplify her teaching abilities, but the workshops also prompted her to remember things she lost throughout her years of teaching.

“The course design workshop was probably the most helpful because I was reminded of some basic design tenets that I let slip,” Turner said. “I will be looking at each of my courses closer to ensure that the assessments actually measure the outcomes that I determined for the course.”

She continued, “I think all faculty need to be intentional about continuously evaluating our courses to ensure they provide the best learning opportunities for our students. There is always room for improvement!”

If you are interested in supporting professional development for faculty at PCC, contact Beth Townsend at  or (336) 322-2104).  While fall classes already began at PCC, there are still opportunities to take courses this semester, including eight-week courses. Apply online at, and if you have further questions, contact the PCC Student Development Office at (336) 599-1181 ext. 2159.

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