Applying HyFlex to your context
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When we find HyFlex being used in disciplines that aren’t normally taught online, there are often questions as to whether or not HyFlex is a good fit. This often happens in STEM courses or arts courses, where there is a significant performance requirement requiring the co-location of students for learning and assessment. When we have situations like that, we often find that there’s a modified HyFlex approach that faculty or institutions create.
Oftentimes, the majority of a course may be a good fit for HyFlex, where you have multiple participation options that gives students a lot of flexibility. But there may be some requirements that require students to be on campus in person at a certain time so they can use complicated equipment, perhaps a laboratory environment, or to be involved in a performance of some sort that requires them to be together, for example, in a music situation or a dance situation, something in the arts.
So there are many reasons why you might have a modified HyFlex approach. If you’re wondering whether or not the HyFlex approach could work in your class or not, one thing to ask yourself is whether or not anyone has taught this fully asynchronously online effectively. And if so, you might be able to learn from them how they did it to see if those resources would also be available to you and their approach might actually work with your students to help you meet the similar or the same set of learning outcomes.
Another reason why we might find some modification to HyFlex is when you have younger students or students who may have not already had a record of success, especially in the asynchronous online course world. When that’s the situation, you may find some restrictions placed on students’ ability to choose between classroom and online participation depending upon their progress in the course, their proven ability to learn well with online activities and things like that. And so there may be some adaptation to HyFlex that you would do to help students make good choices, maybe by limiting the choices in some ways, especially at the beginning of the term of study.
Another reason that sometimes the HyFlex approach is modified is often around space. In some cases, we have classes that may seat a certain number of students that are assigned to a smaller classroom if the expectation is that not all the students will participate in class because many of them will probably participate online. In those situations, if you’re unsure as to whether or not your classroom capacity will meet the need and the demand for in-class participation some institutions will create a reservation system, where students reserve seats in the classroom and the other students will be participating online. And even when the reservation is not a hard reservation, it might just be an indication of whether students intend to be in class or not. We do find that in those situations, most of the students who indicate that they intend to come to class do come to class, and those who intend that they will participate online, do participate online. And so you can have essentially a sort of a soft reservation system, which still provides flexibility, but once again, it’s a slight limitation on flexibility.
Courses and programs in disciplines that require a significant amount of in-person experience – for example, science labs, performance art, music and theater, clinical lab sciences, nursing, technical education programs such as mechanics and welding – and others where physical performance is required are often very challenging to convert to a HyFlex course design. However, we commonly see that a HyFlex approach can be used for part of the course, with the in-person experience requirements still maintained on campus.
If faced with this situation, look online, and see if anyone has delivered your subject successfully online for ideas. If your discipline can be taught well in an online environment, then you can be assured that you can teach it well in a HyFlex environment, given appropriate time and other resources to design an effective solution and multiple modes.
For institutions that serve younger students, the large degree of flexibility characteristic of most HyFlex implementations may be more limited because students are often not legally able to make decisions about their participation without the consent of a parent or guardian or other adult figure. For example, in high schools that use the HyFlex approach for some or many of their courses, the decision about whether a student attends in person or online for a given class is often a family decision and is coordinated with the school. Nevertheless, many of the benefits of HyFlex can still be present even if the individual control over their participation mode is constrained for good reason.
Are there courses or programs in your department or at your institution, that would NOT be appropriate for a HyFlex approach? What would be the reasons that HyFlex course design might not work for a particular course or program at your institution?
Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.