How CERTIFIED Helped SMU Launch a MOS Certification Program

A few years ago, Laurene Klassen, Southern Methodist University Manager of IT Training and Communications, was working with a student who asked her how to get Microsoft certified.  Klassen had worked as an IT trainer for many years and took several Microsoft certifications so she had a good deal of knowledge about the process from her own personal journey.  She had thought about bringing Microsoft certification to SMU but the timing had never been right.

“When that student asked how to get Microsoft certified, a light bulb went off for me,” said Klassen. “I knew the value of earning Microsoft certifications in my career and I wanted to bring those valuable credentials to SMU.”

SMU was already a Microsoft Imagine Academy, so Klassen knew the first step – logistics – would be fairly easy.  However, she didn’t know anything about launching a successful certification program at a large university.  Just as she was trying to decide how to move forward, Klassen received an email promoting the CERTIFIED Educator’s Conference, a few days of workshops dedicated to helping educators explore the potential of technology certification in the classroom.

The timing of CERTIFIED was perfect – it would be held in June and Klassen wanted to launch a certification pilot program at SMU in the Fall.  The school paid for her attendance and the payoff was huge.

“It was primarily through attending the training at CERTIFIED that I got our certification program up and running just a few months later,” said Klassen.

The most helpful part of CERTIFIED was networking and hearing questions asked by other, more experienced attendees, which helped Klassen to see what was coming and armed her with the skills to handle the various situations that might arise. She went back to SMU and began the process of signing an agreement and seeking funding.  While she worked on those tasks, her internal staff got certified so they knew their processes.

As she had learned at CERTIFIED, Klassen was able to get faculty involved in their first year of the pilot, which has made a big difference.  More than 24 staff members took MOS certification exams themselves during the pilot.

At the end of the first year there were eight class sections participating.  Some offer extra credit for MOS certification, others make it part of their exams.  Participating departments include Sociology where it is part of a life skills course, Business & Finance, and even an English course.

Allen Gwinn, a professor in the Cox School of Business, had seen many students in the past who struggled with Microsoft Excel. Knowing that the software is crucial in all kinds of business environments, he collaborated with the Office of Information Technology to utilize the new MOS certification program in multiple sections of his Information Systems for Management course.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Gwinn said. “A Microsoft cert lends credit to, and certifies, the claim that the student knows Microsoft Excel. It is also a tangible benefit from the class that the student can add to his/her resume. The certification provides a great benchmark as to how well they’re grasping these concepts.”

By the end of the first year of the pilot Klassen delivered close to 500 exams, a great success in the first year of a MOS certification program.

To connect, collaborate, and learn from fellow educators, join us at our annual CERTIFIED Conference. Learn more at