Jennifer Smolka, Ph.D.
Dr. Jennifer Smolka is an educator, researcher, community activist, advocate, and most importantly, a mom.
Jennifer started her career as a classroom teacher in Plano, Texas for fifth grade math and reading. Quickly, her skills with technology surfaced and she became the campus’s go-to person for technology integration along with learning and teaching tools. As a daughter of an IBMer and an educator, this must be in her genes. After completing a master’s degree in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems from the University of North Texas, Jennifer went on to earn her PhD in Educational Computing with a specialization in Distance Education and minor in Organizational Leadership. Her dissertation focused on learning tools, mass customization and personalized learning for teacher education.
Jennifer was a part of the early years of Western Governors University in multiple roles including Program Coordinator for the M.Ed. Programs and Graduate Core, Faculty Development Coordinator and the K-12 Regional Coordinator for the State of Texas. While she was at WGU, her perceptions of education shifted. The new methodologies and paradigms were integrated into her teaching and learning philosophies and implemented into many future learning environments. Jennifer moved to Walden University to become a part of doctoral programs and was the program director for PhD in Education and the EdD in Teacher Leadership. During her years at Walden, Jennifer developed the algorithm for evaluating incoming students’ writing both holistically and analytically to determine the appropriate remediation and support to build scholarly writing.
In 2013, Jennifer felt a calling to bring her work in distance education to a very different underserved population: Special needs parents, researchers, educators and health professionals. She created 321eLearning and the 321 eConference for the Down syndrome community. Her entrepreneur spirit was rewarded through funding as a fellow through the University of Pennsylvania’s GSE ed-tech incubator program “EDSi”.
In 2017, Jennifer returned to higher education at Northcentral University supporting their graduate school’s efforts for new model of doctoral programs including an ABD completer program. Part of her responsibilities was to develop the algorithms to monitor student progression and pacing through the doctoral student experience in a 1:1 model. In 2018, Jennifer joined American InterContintental University as the Director of Curriculum and Assessment where she has focused on a research-based instructional practices, curriculum development methodologies, and standards based assessment practices.
When not being an EdTech geek building new programs and learning tools, Jennifer and her husband are quite active raising four sons who range in age from 24 to 10. Her youngest son has Mosaic Down syndrome and the family has scaffolded the boys to success through other learning disabilities including dyslexia and dysgraphia. They live in a Waxahachie, Texas, a small community south of Dallas. She is the co-head of delegation for their county’s Special Olympics where you will see her hands-on support for individuals with disabilities on the golf course, in the swimming pool and on the cycling track.