Humanizing Online STEM Showcase


Where I Was

Day-to-day, we are all mired in our own faults and challenges, and it is easy to lose sight of how intimidated a student can be by a professor, seeing them more as an entity than a flawed person. I know my own intentions are to be helpful and kind, but this course was a good reminder that not all students come in with that assumption, and it provided me with strategies for making that more apparent to students from the beginning.

Where I Am

The course material gave me insights into ways to improve my inclusivity and approachability. 

It was very apparent that the instructors in this course sought to embody the lessons and provide good modules for a humanized course experience. The trouble-shooting assistance and personal comments on all assignments were meaningful, and served to provide an example of the difference it can make to feel "seen" in what could be a relatively impersonal format (asynchronous online course).

Where I am Headed

The introduction to an array of tools for creating online materials was extremely helpful. In particular, becoming proficient with Google Sites and Adobe Express was a great experience, and I plan to continue to use these tools in the future. Also, learning how to edit closed captioning on YouTube videos was a great skill that I knew nothing about before, and that I plan to use for my upcoming courses.

Liquid Syllabus

A liquid syllabus is the first introduction for my students to the course and the approach that I take to teaching. Its main purpose is to make course information accessible and approachable, but I also try to give them a sense of who I am and what they can expect from me. 

Introductory Video

When I was a student, seeing a professor as a normal human being with a life outside of the classroom helped to make them less intimidating, and also made subject mastery feel more attainable. I think this is an extremely important part of humanizing any course, so I had a lot of fun putting together this video to tell them a little bit about myself, my pets, and my family.

Course Card

The default course cards on Canvas a pretty austere. Before taking this course, I actually had no idea that they could be customized! I tailored the majority of these assignments for a course I'm teaching over the summer, but  I liked this so much that I did it for the class that I'm currently teaching, to help make that a more welcoming portal to the course for my current stuents.d

Getting to Know You Survey

This is a strategy I have already been using in classes, but this course gave me an opportunity to improve the 'Getting to Know You' survey that I normally post at the beginning of a semester. Some questions that I include are whether a student has a preferred name or pronouns that aren't reflected in the school's standard roster, I also ask about pronounciation tips for their name, preferred method of contact, which device they will primarily be using for the course, and what their initial feelings are about the class. This helps me to build rapport with students by showing interest in them as individuals, and showing that I care about their preferences and personal feelings.

Wisdom Wall

I created this Wisdom Wall as a way for students who have gone through the course to offer wisdom and tips to future students. This is also a big benefit to me, because when students are directing information peer-to-peer rather than answering me directly, I think they're more likely to give straightforward personal opinions.

Bumper Video

I chose to make my bumper video as a brief introduction to the nervous system. This is a complex system involving a very dense chapter in the textbook, and is intimidating to many students. I made this very brief video to give them an overview of how I've broken that material down into three more manageable chunks, so they know what to expect and understand that I'm not expecting them to digest the most complex system in the body all in one big lump!


I chose to make this microlecture about Cell Theory, which is sometimes overlooked because the raw statements outlining cell theory seem so simple that students don't take time to break down what they actually mean. In their rush to assimilate as much information as possible, sometimes students skim over less challenging material to the point of neglecting it. I used some fun pictures and animal examples to help this material stick with them.

This site is by Anne-Marie Hodge and is shared with a Creative Commons-Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 license. Creation of this content was made possible with funding from the California Education Learning Lab.