Humanizing Online STEM Showcase

 Sudha Kolathu Parambil, Professor, 

Mathematics Department, Sierra College, Rocklin CA

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 started my online teaching just before the pandemic started. Transiting from on ground to online was easy for me. I always felt that something was still missing in my online class. I have been attending a lot of workshops to improve my teaching. I started including growth mind set topics as discussions topics and started giving constructive feedback after the exam. Still, I can see that my online course lacks something. I can feel a barrier between instructor and student and between the students compared to my on-ground class. When I started using Humanizing Academy, I am looking forward to filling this gap in my online course. I have attended plenty of workshops. In most of the work we learn content, but we might forget to implement it. Sometimes we implement it, but we won’t get feedback. The best thing about the Humanizing Academy is we will learn new things and we will get a chance to implement them right away. Moreover, we will get friendly and constructive feedback to improve our project. In addition, I was eager to learn new technologies and be creative.

Where I am.

I am so proud that I attended this academy. This course was structured/organized well with clear instructions. This course is an example of how an online course should be. Each week is motivating and I enjoyed this course. I can see how the instructor’s feedback on timely manner can help a student to stay motivated. I learned a lot from this. It was focused on the key elements; those were exactly the things which were missing in my online course. Serving as a curriculum committee member, we are currently working on implementing DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) in our curriculum. Through the Humanizing STEM Academy I learned how to implement DEI in my online courses too!

Where I am going.

I can’t wait to modify my existing online courses with the eight elements which I have learned in through this academy to make it more humanizing.

Liquid Syllabus

I am confident that this liquid syllabus will prepare my students for the course before it starts and will reduce anxiety. This liquid syllabus has a brief overview of the course with expectations and responsibilities in this class. I am planning to share this liquid syllabus a week before semester starts. Also, they will know who their facilitator is (not a robot) which in turn alleviate stress knowing that there will be a “real” person on the other end to help and guide them throughout the semester.

Course Card

In this Trigonometry class students learn how to find trigonometric functions using a unit circle. This picture resembles a unit circle and we can see how the entire circle is divided into equal parts. Moreover, it shows equal angles and sectors.  Also, in this class students do application problems related to Ferris Wheels and examine similar motion while graphing trigonometric functions. Traveling from ground to the peak and again repeats in the same pattern. With all these reasons this is the best picture which describe my Trigonometry class and each time when students access the course through canvas dashboard this picture will remind them of the unit circle. This picture is more welcoming because going on a ferris wheel is fun and it represents joyful moments with friends and family! 


This is a Hybrid Trigonometry class. All the lectures will be delivered online and students come to campus to take the exams in-person. So, it is more like an online class. I thought the homepage should reflect the overall design of the class with minimum information. I included the links to the syllabus, weekly modules, FAQ and checklist on the homepage itself. FAQ answers questions such as how much time one needs to dedicate for this class, where to find the homework. The check list will help them to see whether they have all the tools to start and be successful in this class. Next, they might be wondering who their instructor is, so I included my photo with a smiling face and my contact information to welcome my students. 

Getting to Know You Survey

I am conducting this survey in the first week of the semester to understand my students and help them better. I am providing them with extra credit so that they will be motivated to take this survey.

Throughout the survey I am talking about my feelings/experiences/concerns as a real person and asking them to share their feelings/experiences/concerns. 

I am sharing three questions from this survey.

1.       I am excited to meet you all and teach this course. How are you feeling about taking this online class? 

2.       I am taking some online class this semester. I am worried that I may not get enough sleep because of this.  What do you think the possible obstacles would be that may prevent you from achieving the grade you want in this class?

3.       I ordered chairs through amazon, and I learned how to assemble a chair following the instructions on the paper. Also, during the summer I learned how to cook Lasagna by following the recipe and the exact measurements. Have you learned anything new recently?

Wisdom Wall

I am asking my current students to share their experiences with future students to plan well to achieve their goal. My current students will record their contributions to the Wisdom Wall at the end of the semester and the future students will listen to the Wisdom Wall at the beginning of the semester.

I am asking them to take a moment and think back to the first week of the semester to see how they have improved during the semester and to think about the changes they have made in their learning style and time management. Also, think how their attitude has changed while facing challenging math problems!

Bumper Video

This short video with interesting pictures will provide an introduction to a new topic which students are going to learn in depth. Pictorial represenation and using simple examples will help students to visualize the shapes and differentiate between the shapes. This video provides an overview of applications of conic sections so that students will know the importance of the topic and why they have to learn this. Through this video I am trying to motivate students to learn a new topic. 


Students have already learned about ellipse, hyperbola and parabola in three different sections. This microlecture will help to put the concepts from these three sections together. 

This microlecture covers topics on how to identify whether the given equation represents an ellipse, hyperbola, or parabola. Also,  it gives a quick review of basic shapes of the graphs and how the equations correspond to the orientation of each type of the graph. At the end of the lecture students can easily identify the type of graph from the equation.