Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

Juan Bernal, 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.


Where I was.

Prior to the pandemic, my experience with online teaching was minimal. I had taught a couple of online courses but I was not happy with what I came up with. I felt comfortable teaching face-to-face and felt that the interactions I had in the classroom were not possible to translate in an online space. So, I decided to put teaching online on hold. During the pandemic, we were practically forced to teach online and work with what we had. I started teaching more math courses asynchronously and felt better with what I was able to come up with. However, I still felt that my online presence could be stronger.

Where I am.

I have learned so many great things when it comes to humanizing online. I had heard about the liquid syllabus but I never got a chance to make one until now, so I am very stoked for this upcoming semester! Aside from the liquid syllabus, I have learned how to establish a much more humanized experience for students through video, discussions, surveys, and so much more. I feel like I am in a very good place than I was before and feel a lot more confident going into an online space and establishing trust with my students.

Where I am going.

I want to implement everything I learned into my online courses. I also would like to use some of these tools in my face-to-face courses since I think it can also be translated there. I hope to establish a strong online presence and gather some data to see what the student online experience is like. I want to gather feedback to see what works and does not work for students and grow as an online instructor.

Liquid Syllabus

The liquid syllabus is one of my favorite tools I learned in this academy. It is fun, accessible, and I hope that students feel a sense of belonging when they see it. A regular contractual syllabus can be daunting and not very welcoming. My hope is that the liquid syllabus will be the first item that students see and feel safe and supported.

Humanized course card for Elementary Statistics

Course Card

I really like this course card because it is what statistics entails; someone working on the computer and doing data analysis! It gives students an idea of what they will be doing in the course and hopefully sends the message that they will be using technology instead of solving complicated math problems.


My homepage is nice and simple and straight to the point. I did feel like I wanted to incorporate more information in it but I can see that it can be overwhelming to a lot of students. Plus, I can incorporate all that other information in a form of formative assessment and fun FLIP activities.

My homepage contains the orientation module and survey, quick links for support, and my instructor contact information. Within my instructor contact information, I have my email, office hours, office, and zoom link. Let's not forget a glowing picture of me!

Getting to Know You Survey

My getting to know you survey will live in the orientation module of my class. It will be one of the first assignments that my students need to complete. As I get responses, I will using the "Notes" column on my gradebook to put some of their answers to remind myself, such as their nicknames or pronouns. Here are two sample questions from my survey:

  1. If you feel comfortable answering, what are your pronouns?

  2. Describe a positive and negative experience in math. It can't be all bad! :)

I really like the pronoun question because I want students to feel included and safe. I also want to show them that I care about them and how they identify themselves. The question is optional, however, as some students may not feel comfortable. As for the second problem, a lot of our students come with a lot of traumatic experiences in math. I want to know their story in math so that I know what to work with and if I need to scaffold additional content.

Ice Breaker

This ice breaker will be the second assignment that students will complete as part of their orientation module. They will record a video using FLIP and then respond to a classmate. The questions that they will be answering are:

  1. What is your name and major?

  2. What is your experience with statistics? Have you take a statistic course before? How was it? What do you expect from this class?

  3. When is your birthday? No need to tell me the year you were born.

The first question is just a general introduction so that they can introduce themselves with other students in the class.

The second question is relating to their experience in statistics. I want to know what they already know about statistics and what they expect in the class.

The final question is asking for their birthday. This is a famous problem in probability theory and what is says is that in a group of about 23 people, the probability of a shared birthday exceeds 50%. I can't wait to see what happens when students find other students with the same birthday. I always have at least two sharing the same birthday. Later on in class, I explain the math to them.

Wisdom Wall

This wisdom wall assignment is an end of semester reflection. I want students to reflect on the class as a pre/post assessment on their journey. The questions include:

  1. What were your thoughts and feelings as you entered this course?

  2. How do you feel now that you are reaching the end?

  3. What advice would you give future students for them to be successful in the course?

At this point, students have gone through a whirlwind of emotions and gone through a lot of content. I think this is a good place to take a step back and reflect on what has happened during the semester. It is also a good opportunity for them to help other future students while reflecting on the assignments and experience.

Bumper Video

This bumper video will be put after the first chapter content. One of the topics that tend to be a bit challenging in our first section is the different types of sampling, in particular, cluster and stratified sampling. I hope that this will be a good place to pause and highlight all 4 different sampling methods. I also reference some additional examples with solutions after the bumper video for extra support.


In this microlecture, I went through the topic of required sample size. The learning objective is as follows:

    • Calculate the required sample size by using the rearranged form of the margin of error formula. A student will understand when to use a prior estimate for the sample proportion and when the sample proportion is unknown. Sample sizes will be rounded up.

I really like microlectures and already do a lot of them in my courses. What feel I need to do is to make my microlectures less than 10 minutes. As I was going through my YouTube channel, some of them go to 25 minutes. This is a good opportunity for me to shorten then so that students can easily digest content. This particular microlecture will be placed around the middle of the course. Students will take a formative assessment afterwards to display understanding.

Creative Common License

This site is by Juan Bernal 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.