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Welcome to the course

Welcome to this course on Designing HyFlex courses which has been developed with Dr Brian Beatty, San Francisco State University, USA. 

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Hello, my name is Brian Beatty and I’m an Associate Professor at San Francisco State University in the United States. And I am a researcher involved in online and hybrid education, and especially with the HyFlex course design.

HyFlex (hybrid-flexible) course designs are multi-modal courses that combine online and classroom-based learning. The approach is typically used when there is a need to serve both online and classroom students with a limited set of resources (time, faculty, space). The model has been used successfully for more than a decade at many higher education institutions around the world with a wide variety of courses.

The primary feature of HyFlex course design is student choice. When students are given the freedom and ability to choose which mode in which to participate, from session to session, they are able to create their own unique hybrid experience, essentially a ‘student-directed hybrid’ learning experience.

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HyFlex courses provide at least three areas of advantage for teachers, for students, and for institutions. First, one of the things that HyFlex courses provide is the ability to better serve students in various modes when the students are better fit to a particular mode over another mode.

One of the things that we know is that when we offer single-mode courses, we’re not providing full access to all the students that we’d like to serve. For example, a single mode traditional classroom-based mode doesn’t allow students who have location difficulties or conflicts or time conflicts to attend those courses in person. When we offer just a synchronous only online mode, we don’t provide good access to students where the technology is a challenge, where they don’t have good bandwidth or perhaps where their environment doesn’t support a synchronous participation. And of course, when there’s a schedule conflict.

When we look at the asynchronous only mode, we find that that access actually is not as good for students who have a high need for interaction when they’re learning. So some students are a good fit for asynchronous online courses, but many of them are not. So single mode solutions typically are cutting out some of the students that we’d like to serve. So if we can find ways to create effective multi-mode courses that provide high quality participation among each of those varieties, we tend to have more access, more high quality access, for students.

Another reason that HyFlex courses provide value for institutions and faculty and students is to support enrollment in programs that may be having some trouble attracting as many students as they’d like. For example, oftentimes graduate or professional studies programs have limited enrollment and we’d like to have a few more students in their classes. HyFlex courses provide additional access points for students. And so you might attract more students to a class section when they can provide both online and in the classroom options. This can provide additional enrollment to support a program where resources are limited and enrollment is a high priority to support.

Third, a lot of institutions are challenged with maintaining operations in crisis situations, as many of us have experienced. We may have local challenges associated with weather or… transit or anything involved with the environment that we happen to be in. Or we might be in a situation with a global pandemic.

Offering well-designed multiple, flexible modes of participation allows an institution or educator to serve more students with high quality and equitable learning opportunities. HyFlex also provides contingency for situations when any single mode path become unavailable, such as during a physical campus shutdown as we experienced during the pandemic. 

"HyFlex courses allow an institution to provide greater access to high quality and equitable learning opportunities for students, no matter their situation, as far as their ability to attend traditional single-mode courses."
“HyFlex courses allow an institution to provide greater access to high quality and equitable learning opportunities for students, no matter their situation, as far as their ability to attend traditional single-mode courses.”

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