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About Dr. Deborah "Sunny" Cohen: Scholar
Dr. Deborah "Sunny" Cohen  

Dr. Cohen's broad education makes her conversant with a wide range of curriculum area and allows her to bring a unique humanistic perspective to educational technology. Her excellent early education exposed her to the liberal arts with a concentration in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.  She received a BA in English from Reed College, a rigorous but somewhat unknown liberal arts college, where she received a commendation from the Department of Literature.  About her thesis on King Lear, one of her professors, Dr. Simon Friedman wrote: "Her senior thesis was very impressive.  She drew responsibly on her experience in the theater and.achieved the near miracle for an undergraduate of saying something new and true about that play." At New York University, she received a Master's degree in Drama, in an interdisciplinary program featuring a social scientific approach to performance studies.  While at NYU, she was the recipient of several fellowships and published articles in the international academic quarterly, The Drama Review.  In the years to follow, she supplemented her formal education with individual courses on topics in the media, training and computer domains that were pertinent to her developing career.  They included media law, information architecture and many courses in film production, and internships in TV producing at Oregon Public Broadcasting and news producing at KBOO Radio.

Prior to becoming an instructional designer and educational project manager, she taught college-level Drama, Public Speaking and Writing for four years, providing a foundation in curriculum development and the learning process.(She also has experience teaching preschool and middle school.)

In 2000, after a break from formal education of over 20 years, she returned for a Ph.D. in Computing Technology in Education, through an online program at Nova Southeastern University, a pioneer in online education delivery. Her doctoral studies enabled her to explore in depth the theoretical and research underpinnings of a number of domains to which she had been exposed in her previous career as a consultant/ project manager/instructional designer of educational programs.

Cohen's major research interests during her doctoral studies were educational media and cognitive psychology; online moderating techniques; and educator professional development for technology integration.

  Cohen led two qualitative research studies during her doctoral years:  
  1.   She was the lead American researcher for a well-received study of North American online engineering learning sponsored by a consortium of French colleges and the French government.  A main takeaway from this study was that even when staff were extremely adept at online techniques and tools, knowledge of providing curriculum for the online environment was often lacking.  This was a main motivator for the hypothesis that Cohen explored in her dissertation study.

  2.   In Cohen’s dissertation study, she developed and explored a process to assist educators, in conjunction with consulting instructional designers, with defining the need for, and then searching for and evaluating, educational media for their online classes.  Major findings from this study included (1) educators can be greatly helped through participation in such a process and (2) interpersonal dynamics between educator and instructional designer greatly influence the efficacy of such a consultative search process.  


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