Humanizing the Online Course Space: Getting Learners Engaged and Keeping Them There

Workshop (F2F) ID: 59622
  1. aaa
    Laura Gray
    College of Western Idaho

Abstract: This session is intended to teach online course facilitators how to better humanize, personalize, design, and interact within the online course space. In this highly interactive workshop, learners will discuss their current methods of online course humanization and will learn research-driven, innovative methods for engaging students in the online forum. Many students erroneously believe that taking an online course will be “easy”; however, this is not true. In addition to extended time management responsibilities, students studying online often become disengaged due to the impersonal nature of the course. Learners will explore strategies that better engage their students and revitalize their own online communities. Using the four components of instructor responsibility as the backbone of his or her course management, each facilitator will learn, share, and try out innovative methods for structuring an engaging course and for humanizing their online interaction with their students.


1. Learners will compare and contrast the attributes of both fully-humanized course spaces and less-humanized online course spaces. 2. Learners will write online course space text in a way that reflects a professional, yet conversational, tone. 3. Learners will re-structure their schedules for interacting with students in an online course. 4. Learners will structure assignments that foster the maximum online interaction among students. 5. Learners will utilize multimedia in the online course space. 6. Learners will analyze the four components of responsibility when facilitating an online course. 7. Learners will understand the connection between poor online interaction and student attrition. 8. Learners will examine best practices for humanizing the online course space.

Topical Outline

1. Defining “humanization” 2. Some statistics on online learning in the last two decades 3. Looking at more-humanized versus less-humanized course spaces; group discussion 4. (Short Break) 5. Student attrition in online courses; brief discussion 6. The four components of responsibility; self-questionnaire 7. Understanding the importance of time management—for students and facilitators 8. (Short Break) 9. Exploring the use of multimedia within the online space; discussion and sharing 10. Best practices 11. Overhauling the online course space


All facilitators of online courses are invited to attend. This includes K-12 teachers as well as college- and university-level instructors. Attendees should have previously taught at least one online course or should be preparing to teach their first online course.

Experience Level



This facilitator received her Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University. Before pursuing her doctorate, she taught high school English and drama and worked as a K-5 school counselor in the public school system for 14 years. She has worked and taught in the tertiary-level online arena for the past 9 years. She has given numerous staff trainings on the personalization and humanization of online courses, and this past year, she was part of a panel who presented at another conference on this same topic. She is in the process of putting together an edited volume on best practices for online teaching and learning. She teaches instructional design at two universities, all at the graduate level.


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