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About Dr. Deborah "Sunny" Cohen: Artist
Dr. Deborah "Sunny" Cohen   Dr. Deborah “Sunny” Cohen has had a lifelong passion for, and involvement with, the moving image, performing, and fine arts: disciplines that form the building blocks of educational media.  Her background as an interdisciplinary artist, combined with her mastery of curriculum development, forms the foundation for her expertise in creating, and assessing the pedagogical efficacy and aesthetic dimensions of, educational media.

Performing Arts
Cohen’s journey began as a youngster, performing leading roles in summer stock musical comedy and majoring in voice at New York City's High School of Music and Art.  (In recent years, she has returned to performing regularly as a vocalist; see Sunny Cohen Jazz for performance listings.)   While a liberal arts student at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, she reengaged with theater, performing with local experimental theater companies, but her creative focus in time shifted to directing and playwriting.  Upon graduating from Reed (with a bachelor's thesis on King Lear), theater would be her artistic focus for the next 10 years.  She graduated with an M.A. in Drama from New York University, taught Creative Dramatics to kids and seniors and college level theater at Antioch and Portland State University, and co-founded a theater company with which she taught workshops and for which she wrote and directed critically acclaimed original plays.   

Media Arts
In her next artistic phase, dramatic activity transformed into study of, and work in, media as a video producer, director, writer, and researcher: first in traditional broadcast television, and, in time, new media.  Several factors contributed to her shift into media work. As an instructor in the recent past, she had become aware of educational films’ pedagogical powers.  Now as an instructional designer, there were opportunities to integrate educational television into her curriculum development work. The moving image arts held a strong appeal: they were capable of incorporating much of what she had loved about drama: its synthesis of other arts and ability to depict reality. As a teenager, she had regularly attended - and loved - the films of Truffeaut, Fellini, and Bergman, among others, that played in the art film houses of New York City.

Award Winning Educational Media
Thus began her dedicated involvement with educational media with which over the years she has worked in numerous ways: among them, as a nationally award-winning independent producer and director of broadcast television and writing and producing digital media for museum exhibits, corporate applications, and online learning courses.   The skills Cohen developed through her work with other artistic media – in combination with her instructional design expertise – inform her work with educational media.

Digital Media and Educational Efficacy
In time, her involvement in educational new media production resulted in many academic questions about the efficacy of new media and the online environment.  Eventually these led to her doctoral studies – where she focused in her doctoral dissertation upon educational media in the online environment.

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©2007 Cognition Ignition                   Photography by Redd Williams