Humanizing Online STEM Showcase 

Dr. Christopher LoCascio, Psychology Adjunct Faculty

Cerro Coso Community 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.

It's been some time since I last taught in an online environment, and I was woefully unprepared for the fantastic changes that have come to the trade. Before returning to the online environment, I had become content with the ways I taught my students; preferring the "sameness" of the classroom lecture to the challenge of change. In effect, I had become the type of teacher I tuned out when I was a kid. 

Where I am. 

I am alternately sad and excited as our humanizing course comes to a close. I am sad as this process has challenged me to explore my teaching styles and methods. Moving from the on-ground to the online environments presents a bigger challenge than I realized and this course has given me the tools and language to improve the ways I provide information to my students. This course also challenged me to examine and explore the ways I talk to and encourage my students.

I'm happy in that I am now able to reconstruct my online shells and create a learning environment that is encouraging and supportive for my students. This will allow me to be a better teacher and mentor for my classrooms. 

Where I'm going. 

I'm already in the process of reformatting my online Canvas shells so that they are humanized and more supportive of all of my  students. Thanks to the humanizing coursework, I'm able to look at the process of providing material in a different light, creating space for me to be a better professor. Using liquid syllabus and short videos (bumper videos) I can chunk the material into sections that are easier for my student to process and explore, and the humanizing tools I've learned will help me continue to encourage all of my students. 

Using kindness cues of social inclusion, I plan to ensure all of my students feel included and appreciated throughout the course. One of the most important humanizing features I plan to use involves identifying and assisting both dependent & independent learners, and providing course material that is tailored to the individual learning styles of both groups. 

Given that this is a psychology course, the idea of expressing empathy seems to be assumed. However, this course (and many others like it) can frequently make using empathy a challenge. The humanizing course provided me with ample tools to include the use of empathy in my teaching style, and with this particular course (physiological psychology) I plan on emphasizing empathy as a necessity in learning about the physiology of psychology.

Liquid Syllabus 

Physiological Psychology

I truly enjoy the fact that the first introduction that my students will have to me and my course is the liquid syllabus page. 

In years past, I would dedicate a significant amount of class time to introductions and ice-breaking. However that process tended to vary widely. 

Using the liquid syllabus will normalize the greeting process and provide a consistent place to come for information and direction. 

Course Card

My course card is my student facing invitation to the course. 

The use of an image of a brain "working" provides students the idea that we will be both studying and using our brains throughout the course. 

The second course card I posted is one that I created for my current Psych 220 course and it represents the expanse of space being the limitless ability of the human mind to learn and incorporate information. 


Welcome to the homepage of my course. It's designed to be an inviting space for students to access the course material, syllabus, files, my bio and the like. 

There is a brief introduction space and a button that takes the students directly to the class. 

Getting to know you

Hello from the classroom!

This is my welcome wagon for the students. Getting to know one another is an important phase in the creation of a classroom. The survey contains questions that will help me and others "get to know" each student. This is usually completed in the first couple of classes of an on-ground course, but this tool is a fantastic method for everyone to get to know one another in an online setting. 

A couple questions that I use are: 

Wisdom Wall

Welcome to the Crystal Ball

My wisdom wall is designed to give current students a glimpse into their future by connecting them with students that have completed the course already. 

By offering suggestions, tips and ideas to future students, it connects two groups across time (like time-travel :-) ) and provides current students a chance to develop tools that are specifically oriented to the class. 

By providing information about how the course works and best practice tips to exploring the course, the wisdom wall encourages growth rather than allowing students to stay fixed in their learning styles. The challenge is to explore ideas through the lens of students that have come before them. 

Bumper Video

Welcome to the eye!

The video next door is a brief introduction to the intricacies of the eye. The eye is an incredibly complex structure that takes some time and energy to understand. 

By introducing the eye through a bumper video, I can get students to begin thinking about this structure and prepare them for the level of work that comes with studying the eye. 

This video fits directly into the curriculum related to the eye and the visual system. It should help students open up to the concepts and structures involved with the eye and visual system. 


The Neuron

This video is a microlecture designed to work through the difficult topic of the working neuron. I created the video using slides that I use in my on-ground courses. 

This is a short video highlighting the important features of the neuron and how it works. While this video is designed to be an introduction into the intricacies of the neuron, it is not a complete lecture. Using multiple microlectures and additional class information, I will be able to cover a large amount of information related to the neuron in a way that is interesting and engaging to the student while offering a deep dive into the content.