About HyFlex Learning
What Is HyFlex Learning?
HyFlex courses provide the greatest flexibility for students, by giving students the choice to attend face-to-face, in a live virtual meeting, or asynchronously through recordings on the Web. Students choose how to attend day-to-day, while instructors teach in a face-to-face classroom with technology to host the course virtually and record it for later.
The best HyFlex courses are designed as online asynchronous classes where all course materials are available from the start to all students online. Then, instructors design live meeting alternatives to the online activities and formative assessments, so that those students who prefer and are able to engage in live, socially interactive learning may do so. HyFlex courses use the Flexible Face-to-Face or Online (FLEX) instructional mode designation in Self-Service Carolina.
What A HyFlex Course Looks Like
For example, in a HyFlex accounting course,
- I might post online the textbook reading, a video recording of a minilecture highlighting key terms, and a formative learning quiz where online students work through problems and submit their solutions for instant, automated feedback on their learning.
- In class, I might offer the same set of problems to the live class to work on in live breakout groups online and face-to-face. I would build in several engagement moments (emoji checks in the chat, write on whiteboard in Blackboard Collaborate, etc.) to ensure that both face-to-face and remote students have opportunities to interact throughout the course. We might talk about the problem-solving process, and I might administer a quick poll about the answers at the end to see how everyone is doing.
- That night, I would ensure that the online asynchronous students have access to the recording, though they should not need it to complete their work.
- I would also enter a completion grade into the quiz for that day for all the live students who took the poll, so no students need to do double the work; they do equivalent work. The online students would need their quiz answers to be accurate to earn a completion grade, but the live students who worked through the questions together may only need to have participated in the poll.
Why Design a HyFlex Course?
HyFlex courses have been used in rural communities in places like Australia for decades in order to fulfill the mission of universities, like USC Upstate, that aim to provide "education for all that inspires a thriving and just society" (Chancellor Bennie Harris). In such institutions, there may not be sufficient numbers of students who are able to attend in any one format in any one location to fill a course in a single instructional mode, but there may well be plenty of students across all three instructional modes who are committed to the program and interested in the course.
Programs in transition who are adding a new delivery mode (such as moving online) or new programs that are building up their enrollments may find HyFlex courses an effective way to bridge enrollment gaps as they move forward with their program innovation plans.
In the US, HyFlex has often been used in graduate programs targeted at working professionals who may be interested in building social networks through class meetings, but who may not be able to commit to consistently attending class on a schedule. These HyFlex programs are often called "executive format." These graduate-level HyFlex learners may be highly motivated, wonderfully engaged students who also have significant responsibilities beyond the classroom. Working learners who travel to conferences, make presentations or need the flexibility to meet professional deadlines appreciate the HyFlex option to drive to class when possible, log in from a distance when necessary, or complete their learning fully online at the end of a long day in order to maintain work-life-learning balance.
Course Design Considerations
In HyFlex courses, students choose to meet together with the instructor and classmates during regularly scheduled course meeting times or to follow along with the recordings and other materials at the time of their choice. Instructors use a scheduled classroom to gather face-to-face students while using a webcam and microphones to reach remote students through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, but the meetings serve only as an alternative path to accomplishing learning activities and formative assessments; the students who are "present" cannot be privileged over the students who are learning asynchronously online.
In developing HyFlex courses, faculty members need to organize and prepare technology strategies to ensure that students in both live cohorts can effectively participate in the synchronous course meeting, and they need to ensure that recordings, resources, activites, and assessments are available for asynchronous students. More pre-planning is needed to ensure that students have equitable experiences no matter which way they choose to attend, and more materials will need to be shared online prior to class sessions to support remote students and provide a backup for technology issues.
A good HyFlex course is designed as an online asynchronous course where the optional in-class meetings rely on the flipped learning model to maintain equitable learning experiences and to keep everyone on track, no matter how they choose to learn. Pre-recorded minilectures available to all ensure that instructional materials meet the needs of the Americans with Disabilities Act for captioning and alt text. Minimizing the delivery of lectures in live sessions and maximizing active learning and social engagement helps to ensure that synchronous face-to-face and online students are getting the most out of their time gathering together in a group.
Tool and Resources
- Blackboard Tips: Flexible Face-to-Face or Online Courses
- UofSC HyFlex Course Delivery: A Practical Guide
- Quality Matters (QM) Building a HyFlex Class to Support Student Success
- Teaching Engaging Online Synchronous Courses (for live class meetings)