Unit 2: Identifying Humanizing Principles

Welcome to Unit Two: Identifying Humanizing Principles!

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To humanize your course means creating a space for and fostering connections between student and student, student and instructor and student and the course (Kelly, 2013). Michelle Pacansky-Brock (n.d.) believes that in this digital age, we now have the tools that can help us to “bridge physical distances, connect people, foster relationships, and build community”. The end goal is to create a human-centered experience for students who are learning and engaging online (Pacansky-Brock, n.d.).

Pacansky-Brock (n.d.) posits that there are two necessary pieces to create a humanized learning environment. The first, instructor presence, requires that instructors are not only visible but also actively engaged and are empathetic towards student concerns and needs. The second, social presence, is the ability of instructors “to project themselves socially and emotionally, as ‘real’ people through the medium of communication being used” (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 1999).

You may be wondering, where do I begin? Kelly (2013) writes that online instructors can begin when they are in the design phase of their course by weaving their personality into the course. This might include participating in the icebreaker activity in the course. This lets students learn more about the instructor but it also models the activity for students. Pacansky-Brock (n.d.) encourages the infusion of storytelling into course design, using visual aspects when possible and being aware of the power of the human voice. Also, embrace opportunities for frequent feedback. This might include sending a weekly email or posting a weekly announcement in your online course, posting check-in videos in the course, and holding virtual office hours (BYU CTL, n.d.).

While working your way through Unit 2, think about the strategies you will use to humanize your online course. Consider the following questions:

  • How can I create a welcoming space?
  • How can I infuse “me” into my course?
  • How can I create opportunities to connect with my students?
  • How will I create opportunities for students to connect with one another?


BYU Center for Teaching and Learning. Social Presence and Interaction in the Online Classroom. https://ctl.byu.edu/tip/social-presence-and-interaction-online-classroom

Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-7516(00)00016-6

Kelly, R. (2013, October 17). Tips for Humanizing Your Online Course. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/tips-for-humanizing-your-online-course/

Michelle Pacansky-Brock's Humanizing website https://brocansky.com/humanizing

Please watch the following video:

Now that you have read a mini-lecture about the topic of humanizing online learning, please take some time to watch the following video which expands on the importance of, and the impact that humanizing your course has on your learners. The video is a Keynote address that Michelle Pacansky-Brock delivered at Oregon State University in 2019.

The “Student Info Form” is a helpful strategy that Michelle mentions in her keynote at 26:45-29:04. You can download your own copy of the “Student Info Form” on her website.

Please read the following articles/web pages:

I hope the video about humanizing online learning, and the examples provided in the video piqued your interest. The following two articles, and two websites will give you more tools and examples to follow as you consider how you will humanize your online course.

Using Your Instructor Bio to Humanize Course, Reduce Student Anxiety

Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning: The Quest for Authenticity

How to Humanize Your Online Class Piktochart

Humanizing Tool Buffet

Please listen to the following podcast:

This podcast will give you the opportunity to hear about one university's quest to humanize online teaching and the strategies they are taking to do so. As you listen, consider how you might adapt the strategies that are shared to use in your course.

Ed Surge podcast How One University is Working to ‘Humanize’ Online Teaching

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Please do the following:

Consider all the resources you read, watched and listened to in Unit Two. What did you takeaway from this unit?

Please add your thoughts to our AnswerGarden. In 3-4 words describe what humanizing a course means to you.

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