Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

Michelle Macfarlane, Sierra College, Professor of Agriculture and Distance Learning Coordinator

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 have had a lot of humanized training and technical skills prior to my participation in the Humanizing STEM Academy. I am a facilitator for @One and the Distance Learning Coordinator at my college as well as a STEM faculty member. I also am very active in equitizing learning environments to better supportI was in a routine regarding what I employed in my online classes.

Where I Am

After completing the Humanizing Academy, I have had a lot of my previous knowledge reinforced. I have also benefited from new perspectives and rethinking how I incorporate humanized elements in my online courses. I have made a list and am going to attack for Spring 23 courses. I am going to update welcome and bumper videos to be sure they are trust building and authentic.

Where I am Headed

I am very excited and energized about applying what I have learned in the Humanizing STEM Academy. I am also super excited it to share with fellow STEM faculty. I am excited for my (and other faculty's) future students who will benefit from this Academy. Some specific changes I plan on making are the content of the liquid syllabus I send out prior to the course beginning. I also want to incorporate more storytelling into bumper videos and microlectures. I also am going to incorporate the opportunity for more storytelling by student scholars in assignments. I am so grateful for the folx that have put the time and energy into offering, developing and funding this Academy. It will literally support the success of thousands of STEM students. How exciting is that?!!!!

Liquid Syllabus

Prior to the Humanizing STEM Academy my practice was to send a welcome email out to student scholars enrolled in the classes I teach the week before a course began that included a link to the liquid syllabus. This version of the syllabus was a complete syllabus that included all the information a typical syllabus does. After taking the Humanizing STEM Academy I am going to change this. I am still going to send a welcome email the week prior to class with a link to the liquid syllabus but I will not include all of the pages I had in the past. I will just include the information we we invited to share in the liquid syllabus in the Academy and make the other pages available after the course begins.

Course Card

Introduction to Animal Science Course Card

The image on the course card I use is part of the course branding. It provides a consistent welcome to students using a fun and whimsical image aligned with other banners utilized throughout the course. It also provides a sample of the domestic animals we discuss in the course.


I think of the homepage as a lobby to my course. In the lobby I want students to feel comfortable and welcome. I hope to achieve this through the consistent branding (with the course card and other aspects of the course) along with the content on the page. The course banner is fun and whimsical and also shows some of the domestic animals we discuss in the course. I have a welcome video posted that introduces myself and the course. I hope my passion for the course and teaching is evident here. I also provide direction on where scholars should begin in their interaction with the course content.

Getting to Know You Survey

The getting to know you survey is in the orientation module of the courses I teach. In the survey I ask students what they would like me to call them and if they would be ok with me providing feedback on their work with video (or if they would prefer feedback in text). I use this information throughout my interactions in rest of the course based on their preferences. I keep track of the responses in the notes column of the grade book for the course.

Ice Breaker

I like to use icebreaker prompts that are broad. Broad introductory prompts leave a wide swath for folx and don't exclude people. This icebreaker asks students to share something they are proud of via Flip. This invites students to share a bit about themselves and typically results in great conversations based on interests of scholars in the course. These conversations based on commonalities or interests lead to the development of

Wisdom Wall

The Wisdom wall is a great way to support the success of students. By students thinking about their learning they can be reflective about their process and experience in a course. This may lead to them learning about themselves. This advice also can help future students know what to expect from the course and what may help them be prepared for success.

Bumper Videos

These are three bumper videos I use in my online courses.

The first is a true bumper video that is used at the beginning of module 2. It is reflective of the format and the content that I put in weekly overview videos.

The one in the middle, titled the Truckstop, is one I am particularly proud of. It introduces students to a discussion forum while telling a story about myself.

The third bumper video below I use to communicate due dates are targets to meet but sometimes we miss. I use this video in the assignment section of the orientation module.


This microlecture is one of several located in the inheritance module of the course. There is one microlecture for each of the types of gene expression we discuss in the course posted in this module. This microlecture (to the left ) is about codominance. The Learning golas for the lecutre, the module and then where the content fits into the course outcomes. are in the module as well as on the thumbnail of each of the microlectures.

This site is by Michelle Macfarlane 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.