Equity Through Community: How Humanized Instruction Leads to Equity Online

Author(s): (OTC), Online Teaching Conference
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Michael Smedshammer, Distance Education Coordinator, Modesto Junior College with Co-presenters: Tracy Schaelen, Distance Education Faculty Coordinator, Southwestern College and Fabiola Torres, Instructor of Ethnic Studies, Glendale College | 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, nearly half experience food insecurity, and roughly one in three experience the threat of homelessness. Online classes are critical to the mission of community colleges. Today, more than 24% of CCC enrollments are generated through online courses.

Through the OEI and the @ONE Project, the California Community College system offers a robust suite of free and low-cost professional development options 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.