Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

Bonnie J. Ripley, Biology Professor, Grossmont 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.

When the Humanizing STEM Academy started, I was fairly comfortable with an equitable teaching style in face-to-face classes (F2F). Although I used Canvas as a supplement prior to the pandemic, I had never taught 100% online courses, or ever taken one! I realized that I was not doing a good job of being a presence and creating community in in my online courses as in F2F. Besides requiring Discussions and having synchronous sessions, I did not know what to do. After teaching 100% online for the first time though, I wanted to continue to use much of what I learned to create "best of both worlds" hybrid courses going forward. In order to do that better, I signed up for the Humanizing STEM Academy.

Where I am.

Many parts of the course I was already familiar with and using, such as being a Warm Demander. It was nice to have all the ideas I have been exposed to haphazardly over the years put into a coherent order and system. The technical tools we learned were almost all new to me, however. Most if not all of the strategies we are learning will work just as well and enhance the student experience in an in-person course, such as my new Course Card and Liquid Syllabus. I was introduced to many resources, such as for finding photos showing diverse participants that I can incorporate into a variety of assignments. The most exciting aspect of the course for me is the new tools I have learned, including Canva, Google Sites, Adobe Express and Flip. I definitely feel like I am prepared now to be personally present in my online content and to develop a community feel for students.

Where I am going.

It will take me some time to process all that I have learned and work the tools into my courses. I plan to slowly update and improve my courses over time. I also look forward to sharing what we learned in this class with other faculty at my college. We learned so many things that are relatively quick and easy to do. I want to introduce those to my colleagues who may not have the time or motivation to devote to the whole Academy. I am already planning to deliver a Professional Development workshop with the other Grossmont faculty who were in my cohort.

Liquid Syllabus

The Liquid Syllabus is going to be a game-changer for students. Being able to see a friendly welcome video from the professor and find out what to expect in the course before the first day of class? That will reduce so much stress! I used to say most of these things on the first day in person, but did not know how to do the same thing online. Even for an in-person course, the Liquid Syllabus is probably the single most valuable take-away from this Academy.

Course card for a statsitics class showing a table covered with colorful graphs and diverse hands pointing at different graphs

Course Card

I previously had a colorful word cloud about statistics that was the image for my coures card. I liked that it was an infographic about statistcs--kind of a joke. However, in the Humanizing STEM course I learned that showing people with diverse skin tones in the course card can really create a welcoming environments for students. It was hard to find an image that I liked. I wanted to show a colorful range of graphics as well as diverse people. This image feels right to me because it expresses an important part of doing science--collaboration. The expressive hand gestures indicate that the people are deep in a discussion about what the graphs are showing. Hopefully it conveys to students that everyone will be included in active analysis of data in my class and makes that look fun.


My Canvas Homepage is still a work in progress. It meets the requirements of the assignment, but I am still trying to figure out the relationship between this page and the Liquid Syllabus. I want them to compliment each other but not repeat the same information. I am now frustrated with the limited editing features compared to Canva and even Google Sites pages. This page looks drab and boring so I still want to make it more inviting. It is better organized and more useful than my previous kitchen sink style home page.

Getting to Know You Survey

I am excited to use this survey next semester, although I knew they are a good idea, I have never bothered to create one. I will use it week 1, so that I can use the answers to get them off to a smooth start in the class. Two questions I ask are: 1) How do you prefer to get feedback on your work, and 2) How do you learn best? These questions establish that I respect their preferences and see them as individuals. I can use their answers to think of new ways to make course materials inclusive. I was thrilled to learn you can put notes into the Gradebook so I don't forget what they shared with me as the weeks pass.

Ice Breaker

My Icebreaker Assignment asks students to reflect on their educational journey. The assignment has three parts: the past, present and future. The "past" is about an influential event that shaped their educational pathway choice. The "present" is an affirmation about them making progress on their journey this semester, and the "future" is to share what excites them about a chosen educational goal. Then they need to listen to at least two other students and indentify something they share. This activity should help students stay positive as well as develop class community by highlighting similarities between us, rather than differences.

Wisdom Wall

The Wisdom Wall Assignment I wrote is intended to help future students stay motivated to continue in the course at the half-way point. The first half of the class is pretty abstract and students may feel discouraged by how they did on the mid-term exam. The second half of the class is very straightforward and uses and repeats the basic skills we learned in the first half. I ask the students to recall how they felt at the mid-point, then reflect on how they were able to successfully do the rest of the class even if they didn't feel confident then. This should help reinforce their ability to engage in productive struggle going forward and encourage current students to stay in the class.

Bumper Video

My Bumber Video is about the difference between Inductive and Deductive Reasoning. This is important to understanding of how we combine logic and inference to design and interpret the results of experiments. Although I cover a couple of examples in lecture (and don't have time to do more) students aren't able to answer test questions about it very well. That tells me they need more examples and a structured approach to thinking about the logic types. Adding this new video to their topic resources will hopefully help.


My Microlecture covers how to calculate mean and standard deviation, a sub-part of an SLO. The lecture includes detailed breakdowns of the equations as well as two ways to write out the calculations by hand, a follow-along example, an additional solved problem, and a quick demo in Excel. This may seem like a trivial topic to spend so much time on, but if students really understand these equations, they are set up for success as we continue through the semester. It also builds trust that I am there to help them learn and willingness to engage in productive struggle.

As I continue my Humanizing work, I will continue to post some of my content on the Roly Poly Research Project YouTube channel, where my most famous video so far is of an earthworm crawling.