Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

Kelly Spoon, Associate Professor of Mathematics, San Diego Mesa 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.

a bitmoji of Kelly in a mirror


Where I was as an online instructor and humanizer...

I was lucky enough to get to move into teaching online through an incremental process. I started by flipping my traditional Statistics class before teaching that same course in a hybrid (50% asynch online) format. Along each step of the way, I had great support. Mesa has a dedicated instructional designer, Katie Palacios, who helped me learn to create instructional videos for my flipped classroom. She also created and facilitated a hybrid course on hybrid course design, called the Hybrid Huddle, that I participated in before teaching in that modality, allowing me to conceptualize my course before jumping in with both feet.

 a graphic showing the progression from tradition, to flipped, to 50% online, to fully online.

Over the last three years, I've taught a number of fully online courses in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. I'm also a member our Mesa's Online Success Team (MOST) and co-chair of our Faculty Professional Learning Committee. In both of these roles, I've worked along side colleagues across disciplines to create and facilitate workshops and courses on topics that align closely with those of the Humanizing STEM Online Academy. I enrolled in this course primarily to support colleagues in future cohorts.

As a humanizer, I'm a believer in the ability to create authentic connections online. This dates back to being on IRC as a college student and meeting up with my internet friends to go to anime conventions. I made lasting friendships in a fully text-based internet space, and continue to do so with PLNs on Twitter! I didn't come in with a deficit mindset that online was subpar to in-person teaching or that relationships were somehow harder to make in this space. And in many ways, I think the online classroom has more possibilities and can be so much more equitable than the traditional classroom where certain voices tend to drown out others.

Where I am now...

If anything, this course made me understand my values as an instructor more deeply. I want my classroom, whether a physical space or a virtual one, to be a place where:

  • incoming knowledge is valued,

  • students feel empowered to choose a learning path that is right for them, and

  • understanding is valued over compliance.

Where I am going...

As I continue to improve moving forward, I want to focus on creating meaningful student-to-student interactions in my asynchronous online courses - it's probably the place where my asynchronous online courses are the weakest. ACUE's Microcredential in Active Learning Online opened my eyes to some ways to use grouped discussions to recreate more traditional active learning protocols online, so I hope to incorporate more of those ideas. I will also continue to work on some of my other passions - equitable grading, accessibility, and zero-cost courses.

a bijmoji of Kelly working on her laptop

Created Content

πŸ“ƒ Welcome Site

My original liquid syllabus was a true syllabus with all required information, though most of it was provided on a secret hidden page. It also featured a lot of information about me.

As part of this Academy, I modified it to include:

  • a welcome video,

  • a lot of information about week 1, and

  • expectations for students and myself.

I'm honestly not super happy with how wordy or long it ended up, but I wasn't aware of all the components until it had become overly complicated and I haven't had the energy to reconceptualize it. Before next semester, I will likely move back to my original and incorporate the Week 1 information in it's own 'Quick Start' guide as a subpage. And I'm struggling with whether I'll keep the expectations (AKA Pact) or not as they seem to communicate my power over the students.

a gif with "Math 119 | 1st 8 Week" as a banner on top of rotating images of a building

πŸƒ Course Card

I chose to share my original course card, as I prefer it to my revised one.

I created this in Canva years ago to rotate through images of our building on campus. I find the architecture of the space beautiful and inviting. The color of the rectangle and text for '1st 8 week' match our campus style guide, so there is also an immediate association with our campus upon seeing it and something that remains static whenever a student visits the dashboard. The icon I created with a bar chart and magnifying glass goes along with our course theme of exploring and analyzing data.

a screenshot of the homepage that can be accessed using the link
I realize this was supposed to be a video tour, but why? This seems sufficient.

πŸ’» Homepage

Over the semesters, my homepage has gone from a bloated thing with an inaccessible table full of each Module's graded assignments and resources, to a streamlined version with:

  • Welcome

  • Contact Information

  • Suggestion Box (embedded Google form)

  • Quick Buttons to Important Resources

After seeing other homepages as part of the Humanizing STEM Academy, I added the Name Coach button with how to pronounce my name.

πŸ‘€ If you want to explore it on your own, you can head to my Canvas playground.

❓ Getting To Know You Survey

I added a Getting to Know You Survey to my orientation module. The orientation module already has the 🧊 Introductions Assignment described below, along with an optional assignment to add their pronouns to Canvas, an assignment to upload a hand-drawn PDF, and a quiz on the syllabus.

I will use this quiz to add to my extensive notes about each student that I use as I provide them feedback and prompt them to complete work through the semester.

🧊 Introductions Assignment

In the video to the left, you can see how I modified my introduction discussion based on the Humanizing STEM Academy. I believe in giving students options, so I allowed students to respond with text, video, audio rather than requiring them to use video. This assignment is part of my orientation module, where every assignment is designed to ensure they can use the technology tools to be successful in the course while also creating a learning community, so I focused on replying to a discussion and embedding an image in this particular assignment.

✨ I do require video replies in my Precalculus class as they have to be able to embed a video for their future problem walkthroughs.

🧠 Wisdom Wall

Here's a video about the Wisdom Wall I created using Padlet for my students in my 8-week class, along with some of their actual responses. For that class, I provide all the material to be successful within Canvas, the material is fairly stylistic (it's stats and everyone teaches it 'their way')), and my students were used to responding and interacting via text. I would be interested to see if my Precalc students, who have more ability to use outside resources and primarily interact via video, opt for text as well when given this same assignment and prompt.

πŸŽ₯ Bumper Video

A bumper video is a humanizing tone setter for the content in the Module itself. Its purpose is to help students feel supported and positive (affective domain) about what they're going to be working on in the content (cognitive domain) that follows.

For each module, I start with an introduction page that includes a 'talking head' video where I explain how the material to come is situated within the course content and set the 'we can do it' tone for the tough material ahead. To the left, you can see this for our Inference on a Single Mean module in my Elementary Statistics course.

✨ That bullseye behind me stayed for the lecture videos in that section, adding a new 'dart' each time as an easter egg.

πŸ‘©β€πŸ« Microlecture

I embed my microlectures into Canvas quizzes with supporting text and concept checks. In the video to the left, I give you a quick tour of what this looks like within my course.

πŸ‘€ The microlecture I briefly start to play is on dotplots and stemplots and can be found here: 2.2.2 Dotplots and Stemplots. And the one I mention later as a question comment can be dound here: 2.2.1 Percentages from Histogram Example

✨ These practice quizzes are one way for students to move through the content. They can also read OER texts provided or work through the videos in a YouTube playlist - both options are explained in the Module overview.