Humanizing: The Secret Sauce for Improving Equity Gaps in Online Education
Concurrent Session 9
Online community college courses play an important role in promoting social mobility. They are more likely to include students who are the first in their family to attend college, food insecure, and homeless. How do these factors exacerbate low online success rates and how might an aware, present, and empathetic online instructor support students to reach their academic goals?
Research shows that a caring, engaged instructor is key to supporting underserved students who learn online (Jaggars & Xu, 2016). But faculty who teach online don’t always consider how important their presence is to their students. The majority of California’s 2.1 million community college students are ethnic minorities (67%). Forty percent of students enrolled in California Community Colleges (CCCs) are first generation college students and nearly half (48.9%) experience food insecurity, and roughly ⅓ experience the threat of homelessness. Online classes are critical to the mission of community colleges and today, more than 24% of CCC enrollments are generated through online courses.
The California Community Colleges offer a robust suite of free and low-cost professional development to prepare faculty to teach online including online courses. The online courses place faculty in the role of an online learner with a cohort of peers. One of these courses, Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning, inspires faculty to become present, aware, and empathetic online instructors and dabble in tools that enable them to cultivate their presence in their own course. Within the course, they experience the social and emotional impact of human presence, and apply research-based practices to their own course.
In this session, the presenters will:
Highlight data that shows the importance of a caring, engaged instructor to the satisfaction of online community college students
Provide a tour of the online course, Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning
Identify key takeaways from the reflections of faculty participants
To open the session, participants will be presented data about equity gaps in online community college courses. Then in a think-pair-share activity, the will:
- Identify reasons why underserved students perform lower in online classes than in face-to-face classes