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Designing Instruction for the Neurodiverse

Dr. Brett Cook-Snell, College Lecturer and Instructional Designer.


Dr. Cook-Snell is a lecturer for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – Professional Studies (STEM-PS) department within the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies (DCEPS) at Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate students and serves on the Anti-Racist Leadership Learning Initiative for Equity and Deconstructing Racism & Oppression (Team ALLIED) Committee within DCEPS. Dr. Cook-Snell is a social justice advocate whose research interests are antiracist instructional design strategies and instructional design for the neurodiverse. He is currently working on an accepted book chapter on revolutionary antiracist instructional design strategies. He is principal investigator on a research project directly related to that effort.

He currently lives in Virginia Beach, VA, with his husband, Mark Snell-Cook and their two corgis, Alexander Jack and Atari. As a lifelong learner, Dr. Cook-Snell is also continuing his education by pursuing an additional Master of Arts in the Humanities with an emphasis on cultural studies. The program will strengthen his knowledge about critical race theory, queer studies, African studies and other areas in which social justice action and advocacy work needs to take place.


  • PhD, Education/Instructional Design and Technology, Old Dominion University, 2015
  • Master of Education, Regent University, 2009
  • Bachelor of Arts, Regent University, 2007
  • Associate of Arts, The Ohio State University, 1981


August 2015 – Present. Lecturer
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA

  • Lecturer for multiple sections of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) 110T, Technology and Your World, STEM 251G, Communication and Information Technology, and STEM 370W, Technology and Society.
  • Responsible for the management of a team effort to redesign of STEM 251G based upon an open educational resources (OER) grant award.
  • Responsible for the re-engineering, design, and delivery of STEM 110T course materials for delivery in a 3-week intensive format for Maymester and Wintermester offerings.

July 2012 – July 2015. Adjunct Instructor
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA

  • Responsible for the design and delivery of course content for 90 students for an introductory course in communications, energy and power, transportation, manufacturing and production, and bio-medical technologies.
  • Compile course content for instruction in 7 other sections of the course offered concurrently to ensure consistency of materials for 2 graduate teaching assistants and 1 adjunct instructor.

September 2009 – July 2012. Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA

  • Research Assistant evaluating the use of automated computer agents in teaching helping skills to counseling students, resulting in 2 conference presentations
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant responsible for the design and delivery of course content for

Student and Caregiver June 2002 - September 2015
September 2009 –2015. PhD Student, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA

May 2005 – May 2009. Undergraduate and Graduate Student
Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA

June 2002 – May 2005. Hiatus to provide care to elderly parents

November 2002 - June 2003. Management Consulting, Incorporated, Systems Analyst, Virginia Beach, VA

  • Technical Project Manager of an 8 person transition team responsible for transfer of a multi-million dollar inventory system servicing the Virginia Department of Transportation across the state of Virginia
  • Supervised and trained subcontractor personnel consisting of 3-person teams in 5 geographical dispersed sites in computer operations, procedures, roles, and responsibilities.
  • Technical Writer responsible for documenting systems operation and developing network and maintenance reports

November 2000 - June 2002. Computer and Intelligence Specialist
U. S. Army DOD Civilian, Fort Huachuca, AZ

  • Lead programmer responsible for developing a computer-based evaluation system designed to collect operational data for ballistic missile defense systems
  • Participated in NATO exercises as lead data collection manager testing joint missile defense systems

December 1984 - November 2000. Computer Analyst
Northrop Grumman, Fort Huachuca, AZ

  • Program Manager and Liaison between U. S. Army and Air Force agencies responsible for the development, testing, and integration of battlefield surveillance systems
  • Designer, developer, and programmer of database systems to collect and analyze data for 15 development and operational tests
  • Developed and implemented data collection training and evaluation plans and procedures for 5 emerging battlefield systems
  • Presented weekly reports to senior executive staff
  • Trained support teams of 4 persons each in computer operations, data entry, and reporting, for 5 operational tests spanning 3-5 years each


STEM 110T, Technology and Your World
STEM 251G, Information and Computer Literacy
STEM 370T, Technology and Society


Stefaniak, J., Luo, T., Cook-Snell, B., & Scott-Brown, J. (2017). Instructional design considerations for the diffusion and adoption of OERs. Panel session at the Old Dominion University Faculty Summer Institute on Open Educational Resources (OER): Leveraging Resources for Affordable Course Content. Norfolk, VA.

Adcock, A., Cook, B. H., Newcomb, T., Downs, J., & Craigen, L. (October, 2012). Designing Cross-Cultural training for Dental Hygiene Students Using an Avatar-Mediated Simulation. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. Louisville, KY.

Adcock, A., Watson, G.S., & Cook, B.H. (November, 2011). Effects of Experience on Learning from a Counseling Simulation: Ideas about Fidelity and Design. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. Jacksonville, FL.

Adcock, A., Watson, G.S., Cook, B.H. & Sovay, M. (October, 2010). Computer Agents Teaching Helping Interactions Effectively (CATHIE): An Agent-based Training System Designed to Teach Empathetic Communication Skills. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. Anaheim, CA.


Center for Learning and Teaching Open Educational Resources (OER) Mini-grant, Old Dominion University (2017). Promoting Information Literacy Through the Use of Open Educational Resources. Jill Stefaniak, Brett Cook-Snell, and Jennifer Scott-Brown


American Educational Research Association (2016 – present)
Association for Educational Communications and Technology (2009-2016)
International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (2016 – present)


Safe Space Ally Training, Old Dominion University (2010)

Leadership Coach Credentialing, Transformational Life Coaching, International, 2007

Literacy Tutor Certification, Tidewater Literacy Council, 2005


Game Day Professor (2017) for the ODU Women’s Soccer Team

Shining Star Award (2015) for teaching, Old Dominion University

Darden College of Education Dissertation Fellowship (2013), Old Dominion University

Alan Mandell Endowed Award in Instructional Design (2013), Old Dominion University

School of Education Barnabas Award (2009) for Inspiration and service to others, Regent University

Outstanding Bachelor of Arts Undergraduate Student (2007), Regent University

Multiple Career Related Performance Awards (1984-2002)


Search Committee Chair, Industrial Technology Lecturer Search Committee (2018).

STEM-PS Faculty Representative, Old Dominion University, Admitted Students Day (2017).

STEM-PS Faculty Representative, Old Dominion University, College of Education, Open House (2017).

Independent Rater, General Education Assessment Summit, Old Dominion University (2017)

Darden College of Education Dean Search Committee member graduate student representative (2013)

Faculty Advisor for Project Purple, Old Dominion University Chapter (2013-2014). Project Purple is a national organization whose purpose is to raise awareness and provide resources to those struggling with substance abuse and their allies.

Old Dominion Student Virginia Education Association (SVEA) Instructor Volunteer, STEM Day (2014). Developed and delivered an instructional sequence and activity for elementary students to encourage interests in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

Old Dominion Student Virginia Education Association (SVEA) Instructor Volunteer, STEM Day (2013).

AECT Student Volunteer (2010). Volunteer worker in the AECT 2010 registration booth.

President, Instructional Design and Technology, Graduate Student Organization, Old Dominion University (2010 – 2011)

Safe Space Ally (2010-present), Old Dominion University. Safe Space provides support, services, and resources to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students.

Senator, Council of Graduate Students (2008-2009), School of Education, Regent University.


Videographer, Hampton Roads Gay Pride Interfaith Service, 2016

Panelist and member, LGBTQ Education and Outreach, Warwick United Church of Christ, 2016-present

Volunteer Staffer, Safe Space Table, Student Organization Day, Fall 2015

Volunteer Staffer, Lavender Reception for LGBTQ new students, 2015

Panelist, Serving the LGBTQ community, Regent University, School of Psychology, 2008