A Return to Humanity in Online and Blended Teaching

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

“Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher” (Palmer, 1998, p. 10). Yet, we often create courses in ways that protect and distance us from our students. This session will explore ways to create inclusive and responsive online learning environments.


Stephanie M. Foote, Ph.D. is the Associate Vice President for Teaching, Learning, and Evidence-Based Practices at the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and an Instructor at Stony Brook University. Prior to beginning this position, Dr. Foote served as the founding Director of the Master of Science in First-Year Studies, Professor of Education in the Department of First-Year and Transition Studies at Kennesaw State University. A recipient of the McGraw-Hill Excellence in Teaching First-Year Seminars and NODA Outstanding Research award. Dr. Foote's scholarship and consultative work span a variety of aspects of student development and transition, including: the role of first-year seminars and experiential pedagogy on student engagement in the early college experience; the community college transfer student transition; self-authorship development; engagement and learning in online environments; and high-impact educational practices.

Extended Abstract

This session will explore ways to return to the humanity in teaching by understanding ourselves and our students and using these collective understandings to create inclusive and responsive online and blended learning environments.

The session will begin with a focus on “understanding ourselves” because in order to create learning environments that are truly engaging, inclusive, and equitable, we must reflect on the influence our own identities and values have on the courses we teach. Following this reflection and conversation, we will explore ways in which we might use this personal understanding to humanize our pedagogy, which Pacansky-Brock, et al., 2020) describe as “a pedagogical strategy that seeks to improve equity gaps by acknowledging the fact that learning environments are not neutral; rather, they often operate to reinforce a worldview that minoritizes some students” (p. 2). 

Then, we will explore strategies and approaches that allow us to develop a deeper understanding of who our students are and how they identify. Examples of multiple beginning of course surveys (Killpack & Melón, 2020; Pacansky-Brock, 2020, n.p.) and short reflective activities will be shared, and following this, we will consider how these course micro data can be collected and used in the design and delivery of our own courses.

Next, we will focus on the ways in which we can apply our learnings to our own courses. The emphasis will be on small changes that are evidence-based and applicable across the disciplines and teaching modes and modalities. Specifically, we will explore two critical aspects of inclusive classrooms, communicating belonging and designing for access and inclusion. Case studies, illustrating examples of syllabi (traditional and “liquid”), community documents, TILTed assignments (using the Transparency in Learning and Teaching or TILT framework) will be shared and discussed. 

Finally, we will reflect on and commit to ways in which we can incorporate the strategies, approaches, and ideas from the session into our own online teaching practice. To this end, participants will leave with a plan to employ small course changes with the goal of communicating belonging and designing for access and inclusion.

This session is designed to be interactive, and as such, a variety of purposeful active learning strategies will be used. First, throughout the session participants will be provided multiple opportunities to reflect on and share, as they feel comfortable. Participants will be provided with a Google Doc that they will use to capture their personal reflections, during and after the session, that will ultimately, become a personal plan. Short case studies will be shared and discussed, potentially in breakout rooms if there is sufficient session attendance. Additionally, the presenter will engage participants in feedback about the various strategies and approaches (and potential application) shared in the session through the use of the online chat, Mentimeter, and Google Jam Board. The presenter will also share a Wakelet of resources from the presentation and invite participants to add to that “living” resource.

  • Learning Outcome 1: At the end of this session, the participant will be able to describe the influence of their personal identities and values on the online and blended courses they teach.
  • Learning Outcome 2: At the end of this session, the participant will be able to analyze strategies from the session that may be used to learn more about who their students are and how they identify.
  • Learning Outcome 3: At the end of this session, the participant will create a plan to employ small course changes with the goal of communicating belonging and designing for access and inclusion.