By Joy S. Jones
“Over the years, Valencia has given me so many opportunities to explore my passion and interests. From creative multimedia projects with students, to developing innovative learning experiences with faculty, I get to partner with educators to create diverse learning experiences daily. I really value the moments when I can make technology accessible to educators in bringing relevant learning experiences to their students,” said Gary Kokaisel.
Gary has been with the College a little over 15 years. In that time, he has served East Campus as a library assistant, student computer lab assistant and computer support specialist for the Learning Technology Center; and the Osceola Campus as manager of the Learning Technology Center, manager of faculty and instructional development and in his current role as faculty developer and instructional designer.
“Since starting at Valencia, my most rewarding accomplishment has been earning my Master of Science Degree in instructional design and technology during summer 2015 from Walden University.”
The final requirement for obtaining his degree was a capstone project, a practical application of instructional design principles applied to a real-world learning problem.
“I was excited to be able to satisfy my capstone requirement with a project that also benefited the College. I served as lead instructional designer working with the New Student Experience co-curricular team to adapt four of the in-person GoBes to an online environment,” he said.
GoBes are co-curricular experiences designed to help students go beyond the classroom to explore College resources, discover their personal values, develop plans for their future and make personal connections. The online GoBes were piloted along with the online NSE course during summer term.
Student feedback has been positive, and Gary is looking forward to his continued partnership with the co-curricular team and the improvement of this online experience for students.
“Gary is very passionate about creating meaningful learning experiences and, combined with his congenial disposition, creates an environment in which people continue to seek his support time and time again,” said Shara Lee, director, faculty and instructional development. “He is a wonderful thought partner and a wealth of great ideas. It is a privilege to work with such a talented, dedicated colleague.”
He has also found that working in a learning community has its privileges.
“As an employee, I also find the breadth of internal opportunities to learn from others and develop professionally as one of the best things about working at Valencia,” he continued.
“I recently completed the PIVOT 5 program. Being a part of a cohort of fellow supervisors, attending the workshops and going through the online modules expanded my awareness of supervisory skills and gave me some practical tools and tips for being a better supervisor. Even though I am no longer in a supervisory role, I still find the knowledge and experience I acquired going through the program helpful as I manage projects assigned to me and communicate with my colleagues and partners at the College.”
Gary shared that the instructional problems that are presented to him by colleagues challenge him to arrive at creative solutions.
“I love that the passionate and diverse group of faculty and staff, whom I have the honor of supporting, inspire me and are open to trying out new things and different approaches.”
“Valencia signifies to the community a pathway to realizing your full potential and achieving your dreams,” he concludes. “Through curricular and co-curricular learning experiences, skillshops and service learning opportunities, students have so many opportunities to dig deeper into why they are here and where they are going. These opportunities lead students through a pathway of discovering their purpose that will manifest into a rewarding life in service to the community.”
Besides his Master’s in Instructional Design in Technology, Gary has a Bachelor of Arts in humanities from the University of Central Florida and an Associate of Arts from Valencia.
Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.