Jenae Cohn

Credentials: Director of Academic Technology, California State University, Sacramento

Jenae Cohn headshot

Dr. Jenae Cohn writes and speaks about digital pedagogy and online teaching and learning. She currently works as the Director of Academic Technology at California State University, Sacramento, and has held prior roles at Stanford University and the University of California, Davis. A trained writing instructor, Jenae has taught online, hybrid, and face-to-face composition courses, and supports faculty in the development of courses across modalities. She offers workshops on topics related to online instruction, humanities pedagogy, and digital literacy.

Dr. Jenae Cohn is the author of Skim, Dive, Surface: Teaching Digital Reading (West Virginia University Press, 2021). Skim, Dive, Surface invites conversation about the spectrum of affordances available within digital learning environments. It is designed to help college instructors across the curriculum teach digital reading in their classes, whether they teach face-to-face, fully online, or somewhere in between. Placing research from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, learning science, and composition in dialogue with insight from the scholarship of teaching and learning, Jenae Cohn shows how teachers can better frame, scaffold, and implement effective digital reading assignments. She positions digital reading as part of a cluster of literacies that students should develop in order to communicate effectively in a digital environment.

What’s Next is Text: Designing Interactive and Engaging Reading Experiences Online 

Students read plain text all the time in online and hybrid classes. Assignment instructions, discussion forum posts, instructor announcements, and, of course, content-based readings are all critical parts of the online learning experience. Yet, as online instructors, we can sometimes take text for granted. When we think about the “what’s next” of online learning, we might first think about designing multimedia-rich experiences, engaged with audio video, before examining approaches to engaging students with text. Yet text itself remains one of the most accessible ways to communicate content to students, even though we don’t often pay adequate attention to text design that may appeal to the diverse student readers in our hybrid and online courses. Many students in higher education struggle with academic reading (Smale 2020, Carillo 2019, Sweeney 2018, Schneps 2013), and this struggle can become compounded when that reading is delivered on-screen and out of any particular social context.  In hybrid and online courses in particular, students have to use a variety of techniques to switch between reading instructional content, academic content, and social content. In this session we will consider how we design reading experiences for online classes in informed ways, considering the different ways that students might read in their online classes and why that matters. By the end of the session, participants will leave with concrete document design suggestions and a list of possible online reading activities to make reading both more engaging and accessible to students in online and hybrid classes.