Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

AJ Edmonds, Adjunct Faculty- Saddleback College

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.

Most of the classes that I have taught have been online. I took a previous development course that taught the importance of a good first impression in Canvas and to create a welcoming presence in Canvas.  I used this information to improve my Canvas courses. After that, I thought that my courses were humanized- My lectures were microlectures, I used welcoming and encouraging language, I had prominant support links ...  After attending several talks about equity, I found out that there was more that I should be doing. I jumped at the chance to enroll in the Humanizing STEM Academy.

Where I am.

The course offered me new strategies.  The assignments were designed so I could use the projects right away in the Canvas shell for my course.  I now have a toolbox of elements and activities I can use to "humanize" all my classes. I now know about additional tools to make my videos more interesting. I also learned that even though students were enrolling in online classes they missed the human interaction with their instructors. I found that just by making small changes, like changing a photo to a more inclusive one can make a big difference.  I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to be in the Humanizing STEM Academy.

Where I am going.

I will continue to use the new elements that I learned to further enhance all my courses both online and face to face. I will also seek out new strategies to continue to improve my online presence and be more accessible to students.  I will share my learning with my colleagues, both STEM and non-STEM instructors, so they may make their courses more approachable as well. I also will encourage them to enroll in the Academy if they have the opportunity. It is a lot of work, but it is well worth it! Our students deserve to have the best experience possible.

Liquid Syllabus

My liquid syllabus serves as a friendly introduction to the course.  It is meant to be reviewed before the start of the course and contains several elements of the formal syllabus in a much more approachable way.

It has several elements including:

A Welcome Video

An introduction to me and my teaching philosophy

A Pact: What the students can expect from me and what I expect from them

A Week One Success Kit, outlining what they need to do as they start the course

Helpful Resource Links

person of color with laptop and python book

Course Card

The whole idea of programming is often intimidating to students. Computer programmers are often strongly stereotyped in movies and television. Students that do not identify with those stereotypes often wonder if they fit in, or if they can become a programmer.   I chose this graphic because it gives the feeling of inclusivity.


This is a tour of my humanized home page.  It is meant to welcome the students to the course.  It contains friendly, welcoming language and an intro video. It also has links to the course modules and resources

Getting to Know You Survey

I always start a class with a survey to find out more about my students.  Finding out more about them helps me adjust course material to cover student needs. It also give them a voice- a chance to say what is on their minds which helps them to feel included.

Here are two questions from the survey:

What would you like me to call you?  (What is your preferred name. If you have preferred pronouns, please feel free to share them) 

(This is the first question, and it serves as a welcome.  Inviting students to include their pronouns helps to promote inclusivity)

Why did you decide to take this class? 

(This gives me insight as to what goals that student has.  I like to give students an opportunity to customize assignments to their own interests. For example, if a student is taking the class for work, I can include relevant assignments. If they want to become a game designer, I can include fun, game oriented assignments) 

Wisdom Wall

At the end of the class, students are invited to share to a Wisdom Wall.  They are invited to reflect on the semester, share their experiences in the class and offer advice to future students. 

At the start of a new class, students can view the Wisdom Wall.   By listening to past students' advice, students see that others have relatable experiences and identify strategies to prepare themselves for the upcoming semester.

Bumper Video 

A Course Bumper is a  1-3 minute, visually-oriented video  that serves an instructional purpose in your course.  Here, I have a short video on Variables.

It is important to understand the role Variables have in programming. It could be confusing for students who have no programming experience, or who have anxiety with Algebra.. I explain what Variables are in simple terms and how they are used.  


This microlecture explains how to plan a program. As a student learns to code, it is important that they understand the importance of planning, and what an algorithm is.

This may be completely new to some students, so I have broken it down using a cake recipe as an analogy, and giving some simple examples, to make the concept easy to understand.