Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

 Renata Cioczek-Georges, Math Instructor, Saddleback Colege

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 been teaching online only since Spring 2020. While I always tried to incorporate some online teaching elements, before pandemic I did not think about self-contained substantive online courses. A training, that spring, at Orange Coast College (STLO) showed me how to create more inclusive, accessible, asynchronous online course, fully promoting student success. But despite this certification and three more years of trying synchronous and asynchronous courses, I have not been fully satisfied with my online teaching. In fact, recently I have started feeling worse. I observe lack of connection and interaction among students, progressing disengagement and lowering standards.

Where I am.

Humanizing Online STEM has changed my perspective on online teaching. I understand now where my problems come from and have got tools to improve my teaching. In particular, I can name some of the issues I encounter: mismatches of low context and high context cultures, implicit biases and not seeing the absolute necessity of showing empathy and building trust. I have got so many tools to improve my presence in online class, from recording bumpers and microlectures to making really short phone videos to introduce a section or comment on a student work. Getting more comfortable with recording, using YouTube and Adobe Express, is the biggest take away.  But also small things I have learned: using Notes in Gradebook, praising every work first before giving a constructive criticism (like our facilitators did to us!), creating all pages with thoughtful inclusion of images and icons. Finally, to summarize, I am so happy I know about Warm Demander Pedagogy..

Where I am going.

I need to practice being Warm Demander, work on earning these marbles, so then I can ask students to work harder. I am still uncertain about my videos. I have to work on making them more concise and I need to prepare more interactive assignments using Flip. I know Flip is so much better than my usual discussion (even group discussion), with an initial post and two replies. I plan to create more Flip assignments in my Fall classes, including the face-to-face ones. Thank you Academy for teaching me so much and pushing in the right direction!

Liquid Syllabus

My Liquid Syllabus for Intro to Stats contains several student images varying with respect to ethnicity, gender and environments where they appear. This should send a message that everybody is welcome here and that you can participate in this course from everywhere: a coffee shop, school, work place, etc. My welcoming video portrays me at home, with a hoodie on, telling a story of my life. At the same time, in several places I emphasize togetherness, a community with one clear goal--learning. I hope all these help to establish trust before the class begins.

I provide basic information about the course, communication, or specific requirements to succeed during the Week 1. Finally, I make some suggestion for everyday work and list support links available to everybody.

Course Card for Math10, Intro to Stats; a woman in the background examining statistical graphs projected on clear screen

Course Card

I chose this image because of an Asian woman to signal diversity and inclusiveness. It has several graphs related to statistics (histograms and time series) and super modern clear glass projection screen in front of the woman's body. I thought it would intrigue students because of the technology and appeal to females as well. 


My Homepage is very short. It starts with some welcoming words reminding students that I am their guide and will help them to be challenged, on one hand, and overcome any fears they might have, on the other.

In Finding Your Way Around I tell students to start with Orientation and list two due dates for  the first week. I have included two links to resources and information how to contact me. The photo of myself  has a humanizing element (I think) as I am wearing an old blue t-shirt (matching the theme!). The words and design should make the student feel invited and provide an obvious way to start the course.

Getting to Know You Survey

This low-stake assignment is a very important tool for me during the first few days of the course. In addition to usual questions about student's name and its pronunciation (that I used to get with NameCoach), I am able to learn information pertaining to difficult individual situations and special requests. I have been very happy to utilize the extra gradebook column "Notes" where I record the most important information received from the survey (e.g., preferred name if it is different than the registered; gender if not obvious from the name; not-necessary-documented disabilities or anxieties; family  situation, like a parent with a child/children; traveling for work; very young/high school age or older/close to mine; last math class taken: preferred way to communicate). Out of 10 questions, I value the following two the most:

I plan to give extra support to people who need it . I found that when I write emails to  people who request an extension or whom I identified as getting behind, I  check my notes from this survey. I could also add something personal in an email or be less general in a discussion post.

Ice Breaker

This assignment allows students to reflect on values that are important to them and share an object that somehow represents these values. It uses Flip to generate a short (under 3 minutes) video or audio message and the two short comments to their peers' recordings. I ask students to choose one person who  has something in common with them  and one who has caught their attention or astonished in some other way. 

Students  may be surprised how many people share their values or how they can get closer to somebody with seemingly opposite views, after listening to "their side of the story."

 Bumper Video

This short video will help students to distinguish between two forms of Addition Rule in Probability. It can be tricky for some students to see the difference. They tend to use always the simpler form of the Addition Rule, i.e., the one for mutually exclusive events. I illustrated why it may be wrong in a very visual way, comparing probability to area measuring, and including differently drawn diagrams. I also included words examples. The simplicity and visual appeal should improve students’ understanding and application of this very basic concept.


A microlecture, longer than a bumper video, but still shorter than any traditional lecture in face-to-face classes, treats a particular one topic with an appropriate depth, yet is not overwhelming. The learning objective for a student here is to comprehend the general multiplication rule in probability, for events that are not necessary independent. It aligns with one of the course's SLOs of mastering computational skills necessary to solve problems whose difficulty level is appropriate to complete a transfer-level class. Problems applying Multiplication Rule could be quite difficult. They will appear in a Chapter Quiz, a Midterm and possibly the Final exam. True understanding why the Rule holds allows students to apply the formula properly. I place this video next to assignments practicing problems for Conditional Probability and General Multiplication Rule, easily accessible when watching first time and while reviewing.