Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

Bulent Bas, Adjunct Professor, Southwestern and San Diego Community College Districts

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.

Reflections

Where I was.

I heard about this course but never had a chance to take part in it due to busy teaching schedule, and I must admit, partly due to the wrong belief that I was making all the efforts humanly possible to make my online courses with my human side always present. Boy, was I wrong! Even though I had many good intentions, the execution of humanizing efforts always fell short. This Humanizing Online STEM Academy was the most eye-opening workshop that I have ever attended. It showed me how to help my students in a meaningful way by incorporating activities such as getting to know you survey, ice breaker activities using Flip, wisdom wall, and many more interactive & engaging ways to make them feel welcomed & overcome imposter syndrome. Liquid syllabus is also excellent way to show your students you care before even the course officially starts.

Where I am.

This Academy has been a great learning opportunity for me. Among adding many valuable skills and tools to my teaching repertoire, this 6-week training has made me realized that humanizing an online course is an evolving process, and you are only limited by your own imagination and desire to "equitize higher education" by removing cognitive barriers (imposter syndrome, stereotype threat, and belongingness uncertainty) which get in the way of learning and student success. This course has taught me in designing activities to make students engage with each other using short audio and video recordings on Flip. Another eureka moment for me is the discovery of Adobe Express, Screencast-O-Matic, and YouTube and learning how to make high quality instructional videos. Another very useful learning experience was through the Cultural Inventory Reflections which helped me to see how low-context versus high-context cultural scores can be used to design teaching practices to accommodate students with different cultural backgrounds.

Where I am going.

During the semester break, I would like to make more micro-lectures using Adobe Express, Screencast-O-Matic, and YouTube to replace many of my existing Zoom lecture video recordings to shorten the material for the students and make things clearer. I will also focus more on building community and getting students to interact with video and audio early on in the semester, hoping that their interest and involvement will carry on through the semester. I'm also going to give them the option to make their own Adobe Express and YouTube videos! I believe that when students feel cared for, they are more capable of learning. I plan to make it clear in my syllabus and in my assignments that students are encouraged to grow and make mistakes. I will encourage my students to reach out to me and their peers for help. I believe that these humanizing pedagogical practices will allow for me to be a warm demander and for my students to produce high quality work.

Liquid Syllabus

My liquid syllabus provides a simplified syllabus with information on how to be successful in the first week of class. It provides personal and professional information about myself and my teaching philosophy, so that my students can begin to establish trust. This syllabus contains a course pact and support links, which help demonstrate that I care about my students' learning before the course begins.

My goal was for the students to perceive warmth and support from my welcome video and the information contained within.

Course Card

I chose a group picture of students and faculty on a geologic field trip to Big Island of Hawaii volcanic fields for my course card in my Physical Geology class. I feel that this welcomes students to the course by getting them excited to study dynamic earth processes such as volcanoes, earthquakes and rocks. The image also shows the diversity of students from different backgrounds such as age, sex and race.

Physical Geology Course Card

Homepage

My humanized homepage has a welcome banner which shows an active volcanic eruption with lava flow. We will be learning about the volcanoes in this class and the idea behind the image is to create enthusiasm, curiosity and wonder about volcanic processes. I have also included an Instructor Welcome YouTube Video which introduces me as an instructor to the students. My homepage for the first week of class is very simple. This simplicity allows for the students to be easily navigated to the correct place to start. It also makes the course not overwhelming. Importantly, the homepage serves as a kindness cue of social inclusion for students.

Getting to Know You Survey

A "Getting to Know You Survey" sends the signal to students that the instructor cares about the student's individuality, thereby alleviating stereotype threat. This practice helps sends a cue that the instructor cares about the student's success. It also provides room for the instructor to learn important information about their students who might need extra support. I place one of these surveys in my orientation module.

Some questions included within are "What name would you like me to use when addressing you?" This question establishes respect, and it takes into account factors such as gender and cultural expressions.

Another example is, "What is the one thing that is most likely to interfere with your success in this class?" This question provides insight into any challenges a student may face, and it would allow for open dialogue on how their needs can be best addressed.

Ice Breaker

An ice breaker is an activity in the first week of a course that fosters social connections between students and helps you get to know your students. Including a meaningful ice breaker at the start of your course also demonstrates your commitment to valuing community and diversity. For this Flip assignment, I designed a prompt for an ice breaker that affirms students' values and, in turn, cues them that they are welcome. Students are asked to share an object they have selected with us and tell us what it says about them.

Wisdom Wall

A Wisdom Wall is a collection of "learning stories" recorded by students in a prior class and listened to by students in a current class. By listening to the advice, future students can identify that struggle is normal. The future students can learn strategies from past students on how to be successful. This activity fosters metacognition by connecting students with spoken reflections of their learning and portrays ability as a growth process, as opposed to a fixed characteristic.

Bumper Video

A bumper video is a short video to used in a variety of ways to help alleviate confusion or stress about a topic or assignment. Bumper videos are used for example to provide a brief explanation of a new assignment, clarify a sticky concept, or introduce a new module. In this course bumper video, I have explained magma viscosity and how it affects the eruptive styles of volcanoes by giving real-life examples such honey and orange juice to demonstrate the concept of viscosity.

Microlecture

Microlectures are short 5-10 minute lectures on a targeted topic that covers only one learning objective. This is a powerful tool, as the course content can be designed around each individual learning objective.

In my example microlecture, I lecture only on the learning objective: Deterrmining the Epicenter of an Earthquake by using Triangulation Method. This microlecture is placed in a module titled "Earthquakes and Earthquake Hazards." In the module, students will learn about earthquakes, seismic waves, epicenter and focus of an earthquake, determining distance to epicenter from a seismography station by using Time-Travel Graph, as well as magnitude scales of earthquakes. Ultimately, micro-lectures such as these, can provide for a highly organized course with clear learning objectives.