Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

Dr. Jennifer Olim, Cuyamaca 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.

The Academy has given me a new realm of possibility and excitment for my online classes. Before the Academy, my online classes had very little of my own video content. I used to think that videos had to be sleek and professional looking. In addition, I thought that my content would speak for itself, without appreciating the importance of first building trust with my students. I've always cared deeply about the succes of all students, but I was limited in how to translate that into an online class. I didn't fully appreciate how isolating online classes can be for students and how many tools and techniques there are to remedy this.

Where I am.

I'v'e come farther than I ever thought I could have in just six weeks. I'm developing a caring online presence. I'm far more proficient at creating warm video content than I was before the course. I'm getting better at sharing my growth and challenges through stories. I've gained valuable skills and tools needed to connect with and support diverse students. I've learned new ways to foster community and mutual respect in my classes. I have a better understanding of how important it is to be inclusive in support of both collectivist and individualistic learners. 

Where I am going.

I intend to keep practicing my video skills and building my content. I'm excited to take my imperfect video self out into the world as I share and build community with my students. I've learned new ways to get valuable insight from my students and I will always be learning from them. I plan to keep working on my warm demander and wise feedback skills, drawing on the theory as well as my experience as a student in this class. I've also seen more than ever how my teaching can be enriched by tapping into the experience of my colleagues. 

Liquid Syllabus

In my Liquid Syllabus, I strive to convey to my students that I am their learning ally,  that I am caring and approachable, and that I believe in their ability to succeed. Students will find a warm welcome and basic course information.  My intent is for students to feel safe and excited about starting the course. 

Course Card

With this course card I recognize that many of my students have families and are balancing a lot of different responsibilites. Wherever they come from, I want my students to know that I will support them and respect their valuable time. My hope is that the course card helps students of all backgrounds see themselves in STEM.


My Homepage lets students know that I'm enthusiastic about taking this journey with them. It conveys that I'm a kind and real person who will be available to help them. I provide them with the tools to get started without too many overwhelming details.  

Getting to Know You Survey

I will give this survey to students near the beginning of the semester, so I can start off with a good idea of their needs. One of the questions I ask is about something they have done that they are proud of.  This lets students know that I recognize their individual talents. Another question is about what part of our planet interests them the most. This helps me to connect Earth Sciences with places that students are familar with and care about. Overall, the survey will help me identify the kind of personalized support students will benefit from.

Ice Breaker 

This Ice Breaker asks students to reflect on an experience they've had in Nature and give a basic introduction of themselves through video. I want to show appreciation for whatever level of experience students have with the outdoors. This begins to build connections and fosters empathy amongst students. 

Bumper Video

This video concisely but warmly describes an important concept. By introducing the concept in a relatable and clear way, I help students develop understanding and confidence. These types of videos build trust with my students. Just as I expect them to put effort into learning, I will put as much effort into designing material to support them.


The objective of this microlecture is to investigate and compare tectonic plate boundaries. The lecture will be part of a Module and will be used to give students a solid framework for the details that follow. I keep the lecture focused so that students can comprehend and apply the material and feel confident in their learning.  I can customize these types of videos to focus on course basics, as well as areas student might be having trouble with.

This site is by Jennifer Olim 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.