A new way to deliver campus courses because of Pandemic mitigation is necessary but that does not mean that we need to abandon the educational experience of keeping the students intellectually challenged and excited about learning from diverse perspectives. As we re imagine our courses there are a number of approaches and models that are taking shape throughout higher education. Models that institutions are examining and moving toward are the Blended, Hybrid, HyFlex, Flexible Immersive Teaching (Markovits & Douglas, 2020), or Fully Online courses. There are similarities among some of these models such as the Blended and Hybrid model splitting work between F2F meetings and online activities. A model that is gaining renewed interest is the HyFlex model as institutions think about how to create social distancing by combining F2F days with online student presence. Contrary to comments we may see on Twitter and other Social Media (McMutrie, 2020), a new flexible course design model can be the best of both online and campus designed courses. Strong opinions against moving to a Hybrid-Flexible model might be premature in our current COVID19 environment if a HyFlex model can meet a critical need.
The HyFlex model (Beatty, 2019) originated out of a need to increase course enrollments and combine distance and F2F enrollments. The flexibility in the HyFlex model is about the student choosing a preference to learn asynchronously or synchronously in-person. The recent interest in this model comes from institutions attempting to create safe social distancing protocols while still providing that strong sense of community in courses. So while the original HyFlex model has some institutional advantages, our individual campus courses can use some of the characteristics without creating two different tracks in a course, i.e. one for online, and one for F2F. Successfully adapting to our changing Pandemic conditions by being flexible is essential so students still feel connected to their learning community. Educause.edu (2020) added an article to their library updating considerations for the HyFlex model in our 2020 environment.
Having technology available provides us more options for different learning contexts such as synchronous activities with students Zooming into the classroom with their instructor and peers in the F2F environment. Creating opportunities for students to collaborate in groups whether synchronously or asynchronously helps build a sense of community regardless of where the student is learning. We need to remember to keep the student and learning outcomes as the central focus. Supporting students as they move toward mastering the outcomes designed for your content area includes using accessible digital tools without negatively impacting the student learning. Whether they are participating online or F2F in your course site, it is important to ensure that all students have an opportunity to participate fully while moving through the course together.
7-things you should know about the hyflex-course model. (2020). Educause.edu Online. https://library.educause.edu/resources/2020/7/7-things-you-should-know-about-the-hyflex-course-model
Beatty, B. J. (2019). Hybrid-Flexible Course Design (1st ed.). EdTech Books. Available online: https://edtechbooks.org/hyflex/
Markovits, E., & Douglas, A. (2020). Pandemic Innovation. New England Journal of Higher Education, N.PAG.
McMurtrie, B. (2020, July 10). Colleges say hybrid courses will make the fall a success. But wil students get the worst of both worlds? Chronicle of Higher Education.