The Brain Science Behind Humanized Online Teaching

Humanizing is a teaching approach that prioritizes instructor-student relationships and applies culturally responsive pedagogy to online courses. Humanizing has been a popular topic in recent years — but since the pandemic has brought about levels of isolation never before experienced, the subject has risen to the forefront.  While we learn the HOW of humanizing, it is also important to address the underlying question of WHY it works.  

I believe that understanding this WHY will help educators to make more informed choices about course design, content delivery, assessments, class activities, and much more.  This video explains the role of the limbic system in processing new information and experiences, as well as some steps educators can take to reduce fear and anxiety in their students in order to foster a welcoming, safe space for student learning and growth.

Posted in equity, humanizing, Online Teaching.

Valerie Pennington (online “The Penguin Prof”) is a Professor of Biology at Southwestern College (25 years) and is currently serving as the Teaching With Technology Coordinator at SWC. You can find more educational technology videos in her ED TECH playlist here:


  1. This was awesome! Thank you for the video. I have added this link to our DE training course for faculty at Butte 🙂

  2. YESSSSS! Another incredibly-helpful video from the Penguin Prof. I loved the clear connection you made at the end to course design. Brilliant! Like Suzanne, I am going to add this to the DE training course at Cabrillo!

    • Thanks so much Aloha! Cabrillo SAVED me many moons ago, so I always have a special place in my heart for that campus. I’ll have to tell you about it sometime!

      • Ooooh, now you have me intrigued, Valerie! Hopefully I will get to work with you again soon, and you can tell me the story about Cabrillo.

        Also, I just added this video to an announcement in the @ONE course I’m teaching right now (Online Teaching & Design), so thanks again!

  3. What a wonderful illustration of the connection between the environment of learning and our brain’s receptivity to learning. Like Suzanne and Aloha, I will forward this for inclusion in our online education course. I can’t wait for my other colleagues to see this!
    Cheers, Valerie!

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