In humanized online courses, instructor-student relationships are the connective tissue between students, engagement, and rigor. Pacansky-Brock, Smedshammer, Vincent-Layton, 2020

In our post-COVID age, where online courses are the backbone of instruction, those who possess the knowledge and digital fluency to develop inclusive, asynchronous online learning experiences that are rich with human connection will be not only game-changers but life-changers. Achieving equity in higher education requires us to examine our processes and systems and remove barriers that prevent all students from having the opportunity to be successful.

Belonging is a basic human need that has both cognitive and affective dimensions. When students experience online courses taught by instructors who establish trust with their students and model presence, empathy, awareness, they are more likely to lean in, engage, and apply themselves at a higher level. Equity-minded educators make relationships a priority but also understand that those relationships provide the foundation to challenge students to achieve their full academic capacity (Rendón, 1994; Wood, 2019; Hammond, 2014).

Hammond, Z. L. (2014). Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic  Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Publishers.

Kleinfeld, J. (1975). Effective teachers of Eskimo and Indian students. School Review, 83, 301–344.

Pacansky-Brock, M., Smedshammer, M., & Vincent-Layton, K. (2020). Humanizing Online Teaching to Equitize Higher Education. Current Issues in Education, 21(2).

Rendón, L. I. (1994). Validating culturally diverse students: Toward a new model of learning and student development, Innovative Higher Education, 19 (1), 33-51.

Wood, J. L. (2019). Black Minds Matter: Realizing the Brilliance, Dignity, and Morality of Black males in Education. San Diego: Montezuma Publishing.