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What is Humanizing?

Online students often feel isolated, which may decrease motivation and increase attrition. When learning occurs entirely through computer-mediated instruction, an important part of the instructor's role is ensuring the learning environment is "people focused" or humanized (Ducharme-Hansen & Dupin-Bryant, 2005).

When students relate to an online instructor as something more than a subject matter expert and begin to conceive of themselves as part of a larger community, they are more likely to be motivated, be satisfied with their learning, and succeed in achieving the course objectives (Picciano, 2002; Rovai & Barnum, 2003; Richardson & Swan, 2003). The end goals of humanized online learning are fostered through integrating learners voices, engaging students in the active construction of knowledge, fostering emotional connections, and providing students with choices. Ultimately, humanized learning increases the relevance of content to learners and improves one's motivation to log-in week-after-week.

Course Description

This course, taught in Canvas, examines why and how to humanize online learning. You will be introduced to the topics of teaching presence and social presence, as you learn in community with your peers and Michelle Pacansky-Brock, your learning facilitator. Designed to be a supportive, experimental learning environment, you will be encouraged to step outside your comfort zone to create content with tools that will infuse your students' learning with your warm presence and unlock authentic assessment options.

Note: This class will be facilitated in the Canvas Learning Management system and will include participants from outside of CI.

Course Outcomes

By the completion of this class, you will be able to:

  1. Evaluate the difference between text and voice/video communications in establishing a sense of feeling connected to your instructor and peers in an online class.
  2. Create content with emerging technologies that have a high humanizing impact.
  3. Evaluate online teaching research to consider links between online social presence and improved engagement, satisfaction, and learning.
  4. Critically analyze your teaching philosophy as it relates to online teaching and learning.
  5. Demonstrate mastery of digital literacy skills.
  6. Apply principles of Universal Design for Learning to your online course.


Quality Online Learning & Teaching (QOLT) is a framework used at CSU Channel Islands to support our faculty Online and Blended Peer Review Process. QOLT is comprised of nine principles, derived from national benchmarks in online teaching and learning. CSUCI's Online Teaching Preparation Program (OTPP) is designed to support faculty with the design of an online course that effectively fulfills the QOLT principles.

CSUCI QOLT Resources

  • Completion of this course addresses the following QOLT objectives 1.2, 3.5, 4.4, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.6, 5.7, 5.8.

You can reach me the following ways:

I will reply to inquiries sent Monday-Friday within 24 hours. I do my best to be as responsive on the weekends.

About Your Facilitator, Michelle Pacansky-Brock, Ed.D.

Hi everyone! Here is a little bit about me.

I am a Teaching and Learning Innovation Specialist at CI. I have a diverse background in California higher education that includes teaching as a full-time, tenured faculty and a part-time faculty (face-to-face, blended, and online classes) in the California Community College system and as a Lecturer at CI. I have also held multiple faculty support roles with the @ONE Program, working from a distance to create inspiring experiences for new and seasoned online instructors. I am a columnist at EdSurge, an advisory board member for ELI 7 Things to Read About sereis, I served as Conference Chair for the International Sloan-C/OLC Emerging Tech Symposium for Online Learning, and I'm on the advisory board for the NMC Higher Ed Horizon Report. I'm currently working on the 2nd edition of my book, Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies.I spend my free time with my husband and two teenage boys; my adorable mini-dauchshund, Zeus; and my friends. I'm crazy about '80s music, Pokemon Go, chocolate, and red wine.

I work remotely for CI, but I am accessible to you Monday-Friday during regular work hours. Feel free to email me or if you need to talk live, we can arrange a time to connect via Zoom. Follow me on Twitter @brocansky!

Read my welcome letter or visit my site to learn more about me.

How This Class Works

  • This is a fully online learning experience, comprised of two 1-week learning modules.
  • The class is facilitated in the Canvas Learning Management System.
  • All course work is completed asynchronously (on your own time) between the module's start and end dates.
  • An optional synchronous Zoom session may be included.

How to Get Started:

The day prior to the start of the class, you will receive an important "Welcome" email that will include instructions for logging into our class..

If you need assistance, please email Michelle directly at

Learner Expectations

To successfully complete this class you will be expected to:

  • Expect to spend about 10 hours on each learning unit, not including tool experimentation.
  • Log-in on the first day of each learning module, review due dates for the module and schedule one's study time to ensure due dates are met.
  • Interact with peers and course instructor in asynchronous conversations that will involve written exchanges, as well as voice and video communications.
  • Have regular access to a reliable, high speed internet connection through the duration of this class.

Web-Based Technologies Used in This Class

You will be provided with opportunities to experiment with many additional tools in this class, as well. The tools shown below will be used by everyone for required activities.

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  • VoiceThread enables asynchronous conversations in voice and video. CI has a site license for VoiceThread.
    You will participate in VoiceThread conversations in this class using a webcam or microphone on your computer. The VoiceThreads will only be viewable by individuals registered in this class.
    Signing In to VoiceThread
  • Faculty who are from CI will be prompted to log into MyCI before accessing our VoiceThreads.
  • Faculty from outside of CI will sign in using the email address they used to sign up for this course and the password humanizeOL (which you will change upon signing in).
  • View the CI VoiceThread Faculty Toolkit.
  • Read VoiceThread's Privacy and Security FAQs
  • Read the VoiceThread Terms of Use.

Adobe Spark Post.jpg
Adobe Spark Video.jpg

Adobe Spark
(Post, Page & Video)

Adobe Spark is a free suite of tools that includes: Post, Page, and Video. These are free, web-based tools that anyone may use. In this class, you will create and share content using these tools. You will decide who has access to the content you create.

Spark may be used from a computer by logging into your Adobe Spark account or an an iPad by downloading the three individual apps (Post, Page, and Video).


To put you on track for ensuring your online class is humanized and "people focused," this class will introduce you to key topics, effective strategies, and give you hands-on experience with emerging technologies. Click the buttons below to preview the module overviews (by the way, these were created using Tackk, a free tool that creates websites you may embed in your LMS).

Module 1: Instructor Presence

Module 2: Social Presence

Course Resources


Ducharme-Hansen, B. A. & Dupin-Bryant, P. A. (2005). Course planning for online adult learners. TechTrends, 49(2), 31-39. doi: 10.1007/BF02773969

Picciano, A. (2002). Beyond student perceptions: Issues of interaction, presence, and performance in an online course. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 6(1), July 2002, 21-40.

Rovai, A. P., & Barnum, K. T. (2003). On-Line course effectiveness: An analysis of student interactions and perceptions of learning. Journal of Distance Learning, 18(1), 57-73. Retrieved from:

Richardson, J. C., & Swan, K. (2003). Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students' perceived learning and satisfaction. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7(1), February 2003, 68-88.

Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The social psychology of telecommunications. London: John Wiley & Sons.

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Syllabus, How to Humanize Your Online Class by CSU Channel Islands is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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