I first started teaching online in 2016. I was referred to the job by a colleague from my on-campus teaching position. It seemed like a great side-hustle – I could make a similar rate by teaching from the comfort of my own home! Little did I know this choice would re-shape the way I viewed my role as an educator. I participated in online teaching training and discovered a pedagogical practice called, “Humanizing.” I have been fascinated ever since with the connection between an instructor’s online persona, sense of caring and impact on student success. I taught mostly (if not only) minoritized, first-generation, and non-traditional students and had the privilege to see the impact of humanized learning first-hand. Fast-forward to always (but especially during the pandemic), and we now have concerns about diversity, equity, inclusion, and access due to increased use of technology and increased distance between instructors and students. For me, I had learned that online learning could be a powerful tool that connected student to instructor, peers, and content, experiences, and so much learning, but not everyone had been given the opportunity or the tools to experience that. We were all forced into that.

That is when another colleague shared the article: “Humanizing Online Teaching to Equitize Higher Education.” It articulates how to create the online environment in a way that promotes equity in such a user-friendly way. First it informs the readers about the pillars of theoretical frameworks that inform Humanized online instruction, so instructors can understand the rationale behind the practice. These frameworks include well-known theoretical frameworks, such as: 

  • Validation Theory
  • Culturally responsive teaching
  • Social presence
  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Once the theoretical foundation is discussed, the article provides six key strategies that instructors can emulate to support humanized online instruction. Each strategy is also accompanied by teaching examples from real instructors and courses. The strategies are:

  1. A liquid syllabus
  2. Adaptive Teaching
  3. Visually Appealing and Dynamic Homepage
  4. Asynchronous Video Communications
  5. Asynchronous Video Discussion
  6. Wisdom Wall

The article concludes with encouraging systemic change through professional development to support faculty in learning these humanizing techniques and creating equitable online learning experiences. I believe that this is in line with our strategic mission to prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UCI, and I hope to work with many of you, along with my wonderful colleagues as we strive to achieve it.

You can access the full article at Humanizing Online Teaching to Equitize Higher Education


About the Author:

Kailey Baez, B.A.
Instructional Designer, Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI)

Kailey is an instructional designer at the Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation at UCI. She has a B.A. in Linguistics and internationally accredited TESOL certificate from Brigham Young University. She brings with her in-class (face-to-face) and online teaching experience with mostly non-traditional students. After discovering a love for teaching and course design for equity in technology-enhanced learning, Kailey went back to school to pursue her M.S. Ed in Learning Design and Technology at Purdue University. She has since returned to California with her specialty in designing learning experiences for diverse populations in hopes to better serve her community, first at Mt. San Jacinto College District and now at UCI since 2020.