The occurrence of COVID-19 has been a driver for many instructors to adopt new teaching methodologies. While emergency online courses undertaken during a global pandemic should not be confused with best practices in online teaching and learning, we should use this time to reflect on what has worked well and what areas were amiss while trying to deliver content and engage students at a distance. Moving forward, the fluctuating New Zealand COVID-19 Alert System Levels give us further cause to prepare to reach learners face-to-face, online, and in some cases, using both modalities simultaneously.
The structure of teaching face-to-face and online simultaneously is referred to as the HyFlex (Hybrid-Flexible) model and was first introduced at San Francisco State University (SFSU) in 2005 (Beatty, 2006). SFSU defines HyFlex courses as class sessions that allow students to choose whether to attend classes face-to-face or online, synchronously or asynchronously.” SF State Academic Senate policy S19-264. The motivation behind the HyFlex model is to support the fundamental values of learner choice, equivalency, reusability, and accessibility (Beatty, 2019). In our case, necessity also drives the adoption of a HyFlex model.
At the University of Canterbury, a HyFlex course modality may be used under Alert Levels 2 and 3, where social distancing is required or attending courses in a face-to-face environment may not be feasible. HyFlex courses meet synchronously in a face-to-face classroom on campus and online via a web-conferencing platform. The structure of the course must be adapted to meet the needs of face-to-face and online learners and support their engagement with the instructor, peers, and the content. The goal of incorporating this model will be to provide students in fundamentally different environments with equivalent experiences and outcomes (Simonson, 1999). While offering students a choice of modalities is desirable, social distancing restrictions will require a plan for determining the modality a student participates in each class period.
HyFlex courses can vary greatly in delivery. However, there are best practices that can help set you up for success.
- Distribute lecture slides and handouts before class using LEARN.
- Create breaks in the course session to engage with all learners and check for questions or comments that are posted online.
- Collaborative partners and groups should be formed homogenously – either face-to-face or online. (Audio feedback becomes an issue in heterogeneous groups.)
- Identify a teaching assistant or student volunteer to help monitor the students in the virtual classroom during course sessions.
- Be sure to repeat questions asked by face-to-face students aloud so that your online students can hear them and read aloud questions posed by online learners for your face-to-face students.
- In-class assessments should take place online using features in platforms such as LEARN or Qwizdom.
- Record class sessions so that they can be viewed or reviewed asynchronously.
For more information or help with the development of a HyFlex course, the e-Learning Support team is here to help. We can support you with:
- Developing courses in LEARN to support a HyFlex course model.
- Organizing course sessions to effectively meet the needs of students in multiple modalities.
- Offering tutorials on our web-streaming and web-conferencing platforms (Echo360 and Zoom).
- Developing knowledge checks and assessments such as polls and quizzes.
- Usability and concept testing in the TELF Lab.
Click here to contact the e-Learning Support team.
To learn more about the HyFlex model, you can access the book Hybrid-Flexible Course Design: Implementing Student-Directed Hybrid Classes online here.
Beatty, B. (2006), Designing the HyFlex World–Hybrid, Flexible Courses for All Students, Paper presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2006 Annual International Convention, October 13, 2006.
Beatty, B. (2019) Hybrid-Flexible Course Design: Implementing Student-Centered Hybrid Classes, ed. Brian J. Beatty
Simonson, M. (1999). Equivalency theory and distance education. Techtrends. 43. 5-8. 10.1007/BF02818157.