As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, schools around the world are in high-stakes discussions with their departments of education on how to proceed. A number of educational models that blend on-campus and online learning experiences play a significant role in this conversation. Hybrid-flexible (HyFlex
) courses are an option for offering increased flexibility for students while maintaining their studies.
What is HyFlex?
The HyFlex method is a blended model that institutions are examining if they plan to be partially or fully open to students. HyFlex course design is where each course is designed to give students a choice to attend either in person or engage in online learning.
The HyFlex model aims to ensure that students are able to switch back and forth between in-person and online participation in the class, between weeks or even class sessions. Instructors are required to build a fully online course and a face-to-face version, both with the same learning outcomes.
As Brian Beatty notes in Hybrid-Flexible Course Design
, the result is
“a student-directed, multi-modal learning experience.” The HyFlex approach provides students autonomy, flexibility, and seamless engagement, no matter where, how, or when they engage in the course.
How does HyFlex work?
The approach adheres to four core principles:
1. Learner Choice: Provide meaningful alternative participation modes and enable students to choose between participation modes daily, weekly or topically.
2. Equivalency: Provide learning activities in all participation modes which lead to equivalent learning outcomes.
3. Reusability: Utilise aspects from learning activities in each participation mode as "learning objects' for all students.
4. Accessibility: Equip students with technology skills and equitable access to all participation modes.
Why is HyFlex significant?
Normal operations on campuses can be threatened by the effects of climate change, natural disasters (including hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes), health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and other disruptions.
Instructors using HyFlex could maintain continuity during such disturbances. When campuses reopen, they can face a range of uncertainties surrounding health and safety, financial concerns, and travel issues, among others. The flexibility of the HyFlex model could enable institutions to maintain educational
and research activities as the circumstances of a given disruption unfold. Different learning modalities work better or worse for students depending on whether they have a disability, their proximity to campus, work and family commitments and other factors. By providing multiple pathways for students to access and participate in learning, HyFlex can support a diverse student community
What are the implications for teaching and learning?
Even before the pandemic, online education was on the rise – the development of a model like this brings the opportunity to learn the best way forward both off and online.
Read more about the HyFlex model here