Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

 Emine Gunhan, M.D., Ph.D., Sierra 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.

I started the academy knowing a few of the tools but not in great detail. I started  teaching hybrid classes in 2016. We never thought we will teaching fully online versions of anatomy and physiology classes until Covid happened. In Spring 2020, when we were forced to go all online, we formed discipline specific groups in our Biology department. I was part of Anatomy and Physiology group. We had Canvas sandboxes one for specifically teaching Anatomy and one for Physiology. In the meantime, there were a lot of trainings offered to make our online courses better. I became familiar with many tools in our shared sandboxes. I used some of them. For instance, I have been using Flip for initial ice-breaker meet-greet assignment. I had recorded video lectures using Camtasia and captioned them. Through some equity workshops, I have also learned some tools to engage students with some assignments, such as getting to know you survey, mid-semester feedback survey, end of semester survey, group projects and weekly check ins. However, before starting academy, I was afraid of learning too many new tools, as it felt that I needed to learn yet more technology to do a better job in teaching which scared and overwhelmed me. 

Where I am.

I have learned many more tools during my time in academy. The best part was that the tools were introduced slowly, and with step by step easy to follow instructions. I still struggle with technology, but I am better equipped with knowing I have the academy resources at my dispenser when I need it. As I learned the tools, I started implementing them in my current hybrid class. For instance, I used a mid-semester survey to get feedback from students and used those feedback in my teaching; I made several bumper videos and I did not look for perfections in those videos. I also started responding to my students via voice and video comments.   

Where I am going.

I cherish and celebrate that I too am a student. I am as student of learning how to teach better with the evolving teaching techniques, changing student population, and changing world around me. Knowing I have a community of people I can ask and discuss these tools with comforts me. I will be using more not so perfect short videos in my classes. I will also be recording more of microlectures. I will work on my liquid syllabus to make it more attractive to the eye. I will use voice and video discussion assignments using flip. At the end of this semester, I will use the wisdom wall assignment in my class. I always did an end-of semester survey in a written format and shared my students suggestions with my future classes. Wisdom wall is much more interactive and humanizing. 

Liquid Syllabus

I am so happy that I too have a liquid syllabus, finally! 

I send a welcome message to my students a few days before the semester starts, and in that I used to include the pdf document. Now, I'll include my liquid syllabus. 

In my liquid syllabus, I have a video introducing myself and talking about my hobbies, likes etc, showing them I am a human and not just a teacher. 

I will work on my syllabus to make it more engaging, and visibly attractive. I have gotten many wonderful ideas from my colleagues liquid syllabi. 

Screenshot image of Course Card

Course Card

I used to have an image with an arrow that has a written word "physiology" . I  learned how important even a seemingly not so important course card is. I chose the image of laughing, diverse students. I do laughter exercises to start my in-person classes. I want my students to know that we will have a fun in this class and our classroom is a safe space where everyone is welcome. 


I have a fairly simple homepage. At the top, I have a banner with an image of a nurse taking blood pressure, something we'll learn how to do in our class. Under the banner, I have links to weekly modules, and links to support services. In the homepage, I also have my smiling picture taking a selfie image of myself, along with my contact information. The simplicity of the homepage along with my warm smiling face and how to readily reach me serves as a kindness cue of social inclusion for my students. 

Getting to Know You Survey

This survey is one of the first assignments my students need to complete in the first week of the class. I have started using getting to know you survey a couple of semester ago and loved the aspects of learning more about my students so I can better support them. 

Over the semesters, I added several new questions. I start asking my students what is their preferred name and if they have a pronunciation tips for me. I ask them to select conditions that apply to them like working more than 20 hours per week or caring for someone. 

I have several questions about the total units they are taking in the semester, how many of those are science courses and if they have taken any college level science courses before. I would use this information to guide my students how to study science, and how to read science textbooks. 

I also have several open ended questions asking them if there are any factors that may prevent them achieving their goals in our class. These questions help me to offer any support program information as well as knowing how best to assist my students in their learning.  

Wisdom Wall

I always did an end of semester survey in which one of the questions was "What advice would you give to another student who is considering taking this course?". I have then copied all of the unedited responses into my syllabus under a section called "feedback from previous students".

I loved hearing words of wisdom from my colleagues who has participated to academy prior me. I found it very empowering to hear from their voices and to see their faces. Thus, I created the flip assignment for my students. I will start using this this semester in my current classes. At the end of the semester, I'll ask my students  to provide their words of wisdom for my future students. I believe reflecting on their experience in the class will help them grow and knowing they will be helping to future students will empower them further. 

Bumper Video

My bumper video is introducing "Protein synthesis-DNA replication" assignment and providing clear and concise instructions for each part of the assignment. The concepts in this assignment provides basis for cellular physiology and cell replication, as well as benefits and risks of mutations that could happen during DNA replication. The information from this assignment will then be used in a discussion assignment where students will discuss "are all the mutations bad".  


My microlecture is on homeostasis. Defining homeostasis and understanding the components of homeostasis is a fundamental learning objective in physiology. Students can memorize definition of homeostasis but have hard time applying this definition with real examples. I introduce examples of homeostasis in my microlecture that will foster better learning of this fundamental concept.