Published February 16, 2022
The award recognizes enthusiastic and effective online teaching faculty from SUNY institutions who are positive and strong advocates for online teaching in the SUNY community.
The UB Educational Design Collaborative (EDC) nominated Cohan for the honor.
“Ambassadors are recognized and showcased as exemplary online educators,” says Cheryl Ann Oyer, EDC co-chair and coordinator of online learning at UB’s School of Nursing.
“Dr. Cohan’s use of web resources to further engage his medical students and undergraduate students is to be commended,” says Allison Brashear, MD, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
“His interactive web-based tutorials serve as just one example of how we at the Jacobs School continue to seek out innovative tools to enhance the educational experience for our students,” she adds.
SUNY Online Teaching Ambassadors will receive a certificate of recognition and digital badge during the 2022 SUNY Online Summit in honor of this distinction.
“They are also featured on the SUNY Online Teaching Community of Practice website and have opportunities to share their thoughts and engage with the community in various ways in the coming year,” Oyer says.
The SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador designation is particularly important now, proponents say, as colleges and universities across the nation continue to adapt to hybrid, in-person/online models of education or completely online learning in order to reduce density on campus and protect their students, instructors and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am deeply honored by this nomination. I am grateful that my work has been helpful to my students,” says Cohan, who began using the web as a teaching source in 1998. “Through this designation, I now look forward to working with and helping others to make learning more effective, engaging and fun for other students.”
The primary course Cohan developed web-based resources for is Neuroscience and Behavior (IMC 606/610) and more recently, these resources have been used for a new undergraduate course, Neuroanatomy (PAS 311).
“I should qualify what I mean by online teaching, in my case. These courses are not taught in remote or online format where students do not attend in-person classes,” Cohan says. “Rather, I have developed extensive web-based resources that my students access as a self-directed learning component to my courses.”
Cohan’s website contains digitized course media as well as interactive teaching tutorials to help students understand difficult concepts.
“With the volume of information available on the web, it is important that students understand how to search appropriately for information,” Cohan says. “Teachers need to guide students in developing methods to search efficiently and reliably.”
Visual, auditory and video media should be used as much as possible to make learning more effective, he adds.
“This provides different ways that students can understand topics and it improves long term retention of information,” Cohan says. “Online teaching should be more than providing links to web pages or accumulating documents that students can download to read.”
“One aspect that I have focused on in my online teaching is the creation of interactive web content. Through my own self-directed learning and with the occasional help of my students, I have created numerous, interactive web-based tutorials that can engage students in the learning process.”
Cohan, who has either won or received an honorable mention in the Jacobs School’s Louis A. and Ruth Siegel Awards for Excellence in Teaching eight times, says the ability to interact with web content engages students in the learning process and it provides a way for teachers to focus attention on topics they feel are most important.
“It has allowed me to bring together information that is scattered over many websites, organize it in one place, and provide novel ways for students to learn.”