Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

Yuanyuan Xie, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, California State University Fresno

This site provides examples of instructional resources created in the Humanizing Online STEM Academy, a professional development program funded by the California Education Learning Lab and administered by the Foothill DeAnza Community College District.


Where I was.

I have no experience on online teaching before the COVID pandemic, which gave me no choice but change and adapt to this new 'normal'. In the beginning, I gave my lecture over the zoom, posted assignments on Canvas and asked students to read my posted notes. I didn't know there was a humanizing method to offer interesting, warm, and interactive online teaching and learning environment.

Where I am.

After taking this humanizing course, I learned a lot within six weeks. There are many interesting videos, tools and assignments, which gave me great lessons on how to deliver an effective, interesting and warm online course. These will give me a solid foundation to teach more online course with great confidence.

Where I am going.

I think I will start with modifying my past online courses by including the methods, components, tools I learned from this course, especially the principles of humanizing: trust, presence, awareness and empathy. I feel I am more confident and comfortable to use videos for both teaching students and communication with students now.

Liquid Syllabus

Liquid syllabus is a wonderful tool for online courses. It allows me to present course information in a direct and warm way to students.

My goal is to give student a supportive and informative welcome through my video and syllabus before the course begins.

Course card image

Nuclear energy, solar & wind energy and Economy

Course Card

Before students enter into the online class, the course card is the first image they will encounter that is representative of my class, and it is important that it is inclusive and makes all students feel welcomed.

This course card image contains nuclear energy, solar energy, wind energy and money, which are all essential parts for this course. It is important to learn and design how renewable energy sources work with the existing infrastructure, and save cost.


My homepage is very simple and can let student easily be navigated to the syllabus, and learn course information.

This is important at the beginning of the semester, and students may not feel too overwhelming.

Getting to Know You Survey

The Getting to know You survey can send the signal to students that the instructor cares about them, and also provides important information to the instructors. I will use the information collected by 'how do I reach you ' and 'how do you learn best' to find out best ways to help and support students.

Ice Breaker

My ice breaker is developed based on the template provided. Utilizing this icebreaker allows students to pinpoint something meaningful in their lives, and in the discussion a common ground can be found, relationships are built and strengthened, and everyone feels that their voice is heard and their interests have a place of value amongst the group.

Wisdom Wall

This is a space where the lessons learned by students in a previous class are collected and presented to students in a current class.

In this assignment, I want students to reflect on your semester-long experience. They will think back to how you felt that first week as they were getting oriented to the course.

Bumper Video

This two mins video introduces the first group assignment in my course. Students can quickly pick up how to start working on this assignment. The provided step by step instruction can alleviate confusion and stress about a new topic or assignment.


This microlecture is only several mins long. It has a clear targeted topic that covers one or two learning objectives.

This tool is powerful because students don't need to bear long lecture videos. It is brief, clear and straightforward.