Tuesday, March 7
3:00 PM-4:00 PM
Creekside I

Humanizing the Online Course Space: Engaging Learners through Multimedia and the Written Word

Roundtable ID: 50548
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    Laura E. Gray
    University of the West IndiesSt. Leo University

Abstract: This workshop 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


Participants should either have previously taught an online course or will be teaching one in the upcoming year.

Experience Level



Laura Gray 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 5 years. Laura has given a number of staff trainings on the personalization and humanization of online courses, and this past year, she was part of a panel who presented at AECT for the Division of Distance Learning. She currently serves as a Course Coordinator and online facilitator at the University of the West Indies and as an adjunct professor (online) at St. Leo University.

Presider: Sheila Baker, University of Houston-Clear Lake


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