Things You Should Know About the HyFlex Course Model

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HyFlex combines the terms “hybrid” and ‘flexible’. Hybrid learning is defined as learning that combines complimentary face-to-face (synchronous) and online (asynchronous) experiences to achieve specific learning goals. In a hybrid course, all students are expected to participate in the same mix of online and in-person activities.

The “flexible” feature of HyFlex, on the other hand, is that students have a choice in how they participate in the course and engage with information throughout the course and from session to session.

In HyFlex courses, students can select participation paths:

  • Participate in face-to-face synchronous class sessions in-person (in a classroom)
  • Participate in face-to-face class sessions via video conference (e.g., Zoom)
  • Participate fully asynchronously via LMS.
A HyFlex class makes meetings and materials available so that students can access them online or in-person, during or after class sessions. All students, regardless of the path taken, will achieve the same learning objectives.

Initiate with HyFlex Course Design

According to Brian Beatty, editor of Hybrid-Flexible Course Design (Beatty, ed., 2019) presents four core values informing HyFlex courses: 


Learner Choice

The course offers a variety of meaningful participation options, allowing students to select the method of involvement that best suits them. The main benefit of a HyFlex course design is that it allows students to choose how they finish course activities during any given week (or topic).

There is no flexibility without meaningful choice… and hence no HyFlex. All you have is a conventional hybrid course if you don’t have any flexibility. (Perhaps not a bad thing, but certainly not HyFlex.) To choose to adopt this principle, an instructor must value offering students with participation options over requiring everyone to study a set of content in the “best” way possible.

 

Equivalence

While the modes are not identical, they produce similar learning outcomes.In the learning process, all students are asked to reflect, share evolving ideas, and interact with their peers.

All participation modes should result in the same level of learning. Providing students with a different technique that results in inferior learning “by design” is poor instructional practice and potentially unethical. However, equivalency does not imply equality. In comparison to a classroom-based discussion activity, an online learning experience (i.e., asynchronous discussion) may turn out to be far less socially interactive. Students should be challenged in each example to reflect on the learning subject, contribute their evolving ideas to the conversation, and interact with their classmates’ ideas. Providing equal learning experiences in diverse modalities that lead to equivalent learning outcomes may be one of the most difficult aspects of the HyFlex approach.

Reusability

Artifacts from each mode’s learning activities are saved and utilized in subsequent modes. All students have access to online representations of in-class activities (recordings, discussion notes, etc. ); online students’ activities (asynchronous discussions, posted files, etc.) connect to and assist all students.

Many classroom events can be captured and displayed for online students in an online-delivered format. Podcasts, video recordings, discussion transcripts or notes, presentation files and handouts, and other representations of in-class activities can be very valuable —for both online students and classroom students who want to study after the class session is over. Similarly, online students’ activities, such as chats, asynchronous discussions, file uploading, peer review, and so on, can serve as effective learning tools for in-class students as well as review resources for online students. Indeed, some learning activities’ artifacts, such as glossary entries, bibliographic resource collections, and topical research articles, may become permanent learning tools for all students.

Accessibility

Students are equipped with the technological resources and skills to equally access all participation modes.

Alternative participation modes are clearly not viable options if students are unable to participate successfully in class activities in one or more forms. In-class participation is not an option for a student who is not physically capable of attending class. Online participation may not be a practical choice for a student who does not have convenient and dependable Internet access. Students require technology (hardware, software, and networks) as well as technology skills in order to make informed decisions on participation modes. It may be the responsibility of an instructor or academic program to offer students (and teachers) with resources and additional training so that flexible participation is a viable choice.

HyFlex at Acacia University

At Acacia, we facilitate:
  • Guidance for both instructors and students in advance on how to create and maintain community.
  • Flexibility in case technology fails or students have access issues.
  • To reduce the instructor’s cognitive load, designate a dedicated TA or student associate to assist with technology and chat monitoring during the class session. D
  • In addition to observing the teacher or slides, consider setting up camera views to offer remote participants a sensation of participating in the session.
  Reference Sources: Beatty, B. J. (2002). Social interaction in online learning: A situationalities framework for choosing instructional methods. (Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University, 2002).Dissertation Abstracts International DAI-A 63/05, p. 1795.