Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

Kristin Clark, Chemistry Professor, Ventura 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.

Two years ago I was just learning how the world of online teaching worked, as I only became an online instructor due to the pandemic. I want to continue offering this modality to support students. It is important to provide access to education for non-traditional college students. This course taught me how to make a Liquid Syllabus, Adobe Express video, and include opportunities for students to have peer to peer connections. I have made bumper videos and microlectures before and used Flip in my in person and online classrooms to support students.

Where I am.

Today, I feel confident about making short Adobe Express videos. I really enjoyed learning about that tool. I have a good draft of a Liquid Syllabus to continue growing and sharing with students. I am able to provide imperfect videos, give more personal feedback with video/text/audio comments, provide "Warm Demander," cues to support students. One of my favorite take-aways from this class is, I now know how to find access to more tools and resources in the online education field thanks to the Humanizing STEM course.

Where I am going.

This course has provided me with the space to explore and share ideas with other STEM professionals. I have found it really beneficial to see what their ideas look like and gain confidence in making changes to my hybrid and online course designs. I plan on embracing the eight elements of this course and making changes to all of my future courses. I hope my students that did not succeed or feel college was a place for them, can experience a more engaged online course environment. I love learning and will continue to grow and add more tools to my teaching philosophy to enrich my courses.

Liquid Syllabus

My liquid syllabus is a way for me to connect with students before they have access to the course on Canvas. They can view my expectations for them in this course. Students can view a short welcome message to know this course will offer support and video presence of the instructor. There is a section dedicated to student success with information on how you can be successful in a course that might be intimidating on paper.

I am still learning what works best on a separate page and what information should stay on the front page. I am still editing the blocks of text to make bullet points, so students can quickly find the information they need.

Course Card for ChemV21 Hybrid Lab

Course Card

I chose a picture showing a collaborative lab experience along with a fun graphic of a female in science. Majority of my students are females in this lab and many do not see themselves as scientists. I want them to feel empowered, welcomed, and know we will work together in lab to learn as a community.


Inclusion and belonging are important to the learning process. This course has shown the importance of providing kindness cues, that allow a student to know from day one when they view your course homepage you are affirming the inclusion of all students. Kindness cues can be the warm welcome banner, a friendly photo, clear instructions on how to start the course. Providing clear instructions on what is due for week one and how to begin the course sets the tone that you want students to succeed. I have learned to be a "warm demander," by providing crucial feedback, and support for student success. I want students to know this is not a robot or AI course but has a caring and dedicated instructor working with them to achieve their goals.

Getting to Know You Survey

Even in person I have always offered my students a questionnaire so I can get to know them. With the ease of setting this survey up on Canvas, I would never go back to the paper version. I love being able to reference specific needs of my students by looking at this during the semester. When a student struggles you can refer back to some of the questions about if they work or have other life circumstances that influenced their decision to take a hybrid or online course. Two example questions I use in this survey are:

  1. Thinking about a previous class (online or in person) what helped you succeed in that class? What motivated you to keep coming back and putting in time to the course?

  2. Do you know about the resources on campus like the Tutoring Center, EAC/DSPS, EOPS, Health Center, Transfer Center, Basic Needs Office and more? Would you like more information on any of these services?

I want students to know that I care about their educational goals and am receptive to learning what works for them. It is important to alleviate the anxiety students have about fitting in and overcoming any stereotype threat.

Ice Breaker

Using Flip, students will post a short introduction to foster community in the class by sharing their plans for Spring Break. I try to offer ideas on how to use the time for self care, to recharge, be productive, and connect with family. It is important that we model the imperfect presence in this class and I hope this starting assignment in Flip encourages students to see each other and feel welcome. It is a fun way to find out which students are planners and which students travel. This activity provides a safe space for us to hear each other and use empathy to connect with one another. Sometimes students will talk about being the primary caregiver for their siblings and families, and how that is the focal point of their life.

This type of activity used to be done as a discussion in Canvas. I like using Flip so the personal voice and video connection can cultivate that start of the semester classroom bonding. I hope this encourages students to stay enrolled, feel welcomed, learn more about their peers. Some online classrooms can fail if students do not see their peers. We forget the importance of bringing that safe space for students to meet each other on their own terms. I really want students to know how to leverage their peers for support in this class and to make study buddies. It is also great to use their plans to motivate them as we hit that point in the course where we feel less engaged. You can remind them of their plans and ideas to recharge over Spring Break.

Wisdom Wall

Students are terrified to begin projects and presentations without having a good model, and advice to get them started. I hope the reflections from previous students will help students to start the project sooner, and not feel so overwhelmed. If students can use this to identify their strengths and weaknesses to prepare for submitting their final project, this assignment will have a positive outcome. Most students do remarkably well on this presentation. It creates a positive community building skill in the class. I used to use a traditional lab final, and that created fear and anxiety. I love using student projects and group activities, so we can walk away from this class all learning something new. I have learned more about my students and their passions over the years using this project. I wish I had built a wisdom wall sooner, to help future students learn how to grow and succeed in making their first presentation. A few students have taken a speech class and have that skill, but most of my students say this is the first class presentation they have done at the college level.

Bumper Video

In lecture and in lab, students need to grow and learn how to develop the skill of drawing structures. In the recommended prerequisite course some students will have learned how to draw Lewis Structures. The ability to draw every carbon and hydrogen atom is a great start but ultimately will take them too long and slow them down to look for patterns in structures. It is much easier for students to name, draw and develop relational skills by seeing line angle notation. We will start with alkanes and then progress to drawing three other classes of compounds using this style of drawing. I hope providing this bumper video in lecture and lab students can have guided practice to help them start with the dots and lines drawings. Then the students should learn to progress to the style of drawing lines connected to represent the carbon and hydrogen atoms. I can make a series of these videos as structures get more complex or new atoms like oxygen and chlorine are introduced in chapter three and four.


This microlecture on determining the relationship of alkane structures is meant to allow students to build on the previous skills in chapter one and pause to follow along with several example problems. By watching me solve some and setting them up to solve problems they will analyze the structures and determine if it meets the criteria needed to classify the structures as a pair of isomers. Students tend to get this skill at different rates, so providing a tool for them to view and revisit this learning objective will provide students access to grow and learn. We will have a worksheet, homework and a lab on this topic so it is very important for them to develop the ability to analyze structures.