Choosing her own adventure leads student to success

September 28, 2015
Deb Quentel

What do Choose Your Own Adventure books have to do with online learning? For Deb Quentel, they were an early inspiration for her career.

As the Director of Curriculum Development and Associate Counsel at the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI), Quentel assists law professors from around the country to develop open-access ebooks and online tutorials. According to Quentel, the logical progression model of the first question leading to the second and so on found in the adventure books are key to keeping students engaged. In her work at CALI, she helps instructors take this progression model and translate it to the online lessons. While she was able to pull some of these insights from her own research, she decided more formal training through the Master of Science in Distance Education Leadership program at UW-Platteville would help her excel in her work.

“My DEL courses reinforced some ideas I had from my self-directed research while providing new insights,” Quentel said. “In my self-directed research, I was trying to solve the problem of the day. Now I have a deeper understanding and a broader scope of knowledge that allows me to connect with the professors I work with in a new way.”

Much like the scenes from a Choose Your Own Adventure book, Quentel had an unusual path to law and higher education. She completed her undergraduate degree in percussion performance from UW-Madison and when she began working as a musician, she was astounded at the types of copyright, contract and business law she encountered. A desire to understand and avoid these legal issues eventually drove her to law school. Now she is combining her passion for music and the law into her capstone work. For her final semester with the DEL program, she will be developing material on music, musicians, and the law that she hopes could one day be adopted into a law school’s or school of music’s curriculum.

While the project is ambitious, Quentel is positive that her mantra of “If I’m not working or sleeping, I better be reading!” will see her through, along with the support of the faculty and her fellow students.

“I’ve just had such a positive experience with UW-Platteville,” Quentel said. “The instructors all challenged me and were demanding—in a good way! Everyone taught me something different and all the classes resonated one way or another. Even working with fellow students — when we’d answer the same questions differently, it made me think in new ways. If all goes well, I will graduate in December and it will just cap off an awesome experience.”

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