STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Meet Elif Gokbel, New Instructional Designer

The Instructional Design team at the Academic Commons is growing! This summer, two new faces join our team – Elif Gokbel and Leah Richards. Elif and Leah join a group of instructional designers and educational technologies experts who support faculty across Jefferson. Elif and Leah will help faculty learn new technologies to use in their courses, implement teaching pedagogies and themes, and develop engaging and accessible learning materials. Contact them today for help with your courses and projects!

Check out the Q&A with Elif below and read our interview with Leah to get to know her better. Welcome to the team, Elif and Leah!

What is your title? What types of projects and work will you be taking on in the Academic Commons?

My title is Instructional Design Specialist. I will collaborate with faculty and other subject matter experts (SME) in designing effective and engaging learning experiences. These experiences can include the design and development of courses, learning modules, activities, materials, and assessments. Also, I will assist faculty in incorporating evidence-based practices and technology into the online, hybrid, and face-to-face classrooms.

What interested you in working at Thomas Jefferson University?

I initially discovered Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) while searching for new challenges and opportunities in my career after obtaining my doctoral degree in Instructional Technology and Leadership. Since my interview process, the team has been so welcoming and supportive. The wide variety of instructional technologies at TJU also attracted my attention. Finally, the location was pretty attractive as we are close to our friends while raising a family here in Greater Philadelphia.

After all, I felt that this would be a great environment to join.

What is one of your favorite educational technology tools and why?  

Edpuzzle has recently been one of my favorite tools to create engaging learning experiences. Edpuzzle is an online formative assessment tool that allows instructors to pull in personal and web-based videos, like YouTube, to be cropped and used with other content. This includes embedding voice-overs, audio commentaries, extra resources, or assessment questions (open-ended, multiple-choice).

When creating a video on Edpuzzle, it is possible to embed links, insert images, create formulas, and add rich text as needed. Then it is possible to embed the finished video using an LMS system. When shared in LMS, instructors can check student progress (how long they stayed on the video, how many times they viewed, etc.) and hold them accountable for their learning.

Edpuzzle is also great for flipped classroom models. It allows instructors to assign video lessons for students to watch at their own pace and use synchronous or in-person class time for more meaningful activities. This gives the instructor more time to work on other activities that will reinforce students’ understanding of a topic.

You have lots of higher education experience – from working at Coastal Carolina University to Duquesne University. Can you tell us a bit about your previous experience working in instructional design? What skills and past lessons learned will you bring to Jefferson?

I come most recently from Coastal Carolina University (2019-2021), where I served as an instructional designer and faculty consultant. At CCU, I worked closely with faculty and graduate teaching assistants across disciplines. I facilitated workshops and consultations about evidence-based practices in teaching and learning in different modalities.

Before CCU, I worked at Duquesne University (2014-2018) in varying roles during my Ed.D. program. While at Duquesne University, I worked as an adjunct instructor in the Mathematics Education program. I also worked with the School of Education faculty as a graduate teaching assistant, co-taught pedagogy courses, and assisted faculty in instructional technology use. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in Turkey and my master’s degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Duquesne University.

At both institutions, I had opportunities to collaborate with faculty in classroom research projects to support Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). I am currently serving as 2021-2022 Program Chair for the Annual Conference of the Association Supporting Computer Users in Education (ASCUE). My involvement in ASCUE has been a rewarding experience as it allows me to gain and practice unique skills that could eventually help me grow in the field.

My previous experiences as an instructional designer, instructor, and researcher in higher education will guide my practice at Jefferson to successfully cultivate and deliver training and individual consultations to SMEs.

When not helping faculty, how do you like to spend your time?

Outside of work, I spend most of my time with my family. We enjoy discovering new places in the Greater Philadelphia area, especially trails, attractions, and ethnic food restaurants. I also enjoy going for a walk or a hike. This helps me minimize screen time outside of work and gives my eyes and back the rest they deserve.

Is there anything you want your colleagues and faculty to know about you?

I want faculty to feel comfortable working with instructional designers and know that I can support them in various ways. I always want my work with faculty to be iterative, reflective, and flexible. I very much look forward to exploring innovative design solutions with the teaching community at TJU!

I want my colleagues to know that I am open to collaboration opportunities in any projects supporting the teaching and research agenda of our faculty and graduate students.

The easiest way to get in contact is via email at We can always connect through Zoom until we are back on campus. Starting in Fall 2021, I will have a presence in both East Falls and Center City.