Feedback works both ways – instructor to students and students to instructor. Feedback and formative assessment are powerful tools for learner engagement regardless of the delivery format. Technology provides a myriad of opportunities to connect learners with the content, the instructor, and their classmates.
I recently took an online statistical analysis course. Most people when I tell them that, respond with “why?”. In hindsight I must ask myself the same thing, but that’s beside the point.
One thing I really liked about the course was the instructor offered students a weekly live web-conferencing session to review the assignments. “Attendance” (logging in to the live session) was optional, which was a good thing since it was scheduled at a time that was not convenient for me to attend. However, the sessions were recorded and posted for review for those who were unable to attend. These recorded sessions were a life saver.
Although it wasn’t a true example of a Hyflex course, it did include a common feature of the Hyflex format – the option to attend class either synchronously or asynchronously depending on the student’s personal preference or schedule.
The impetus for increasing enrollments in distance education, whether online or blended, mostly has to do with maximum flexibility and convenience in regards to time and place. The Hyflex course is no exception. In fact, Hyflex may be one of the most flexible delivery models to emerge in higher education.
So, what exactly is Hyflex?
Hyflex learning permits students to choose their preference in where and when they participate or access course instructional time.
“HyFlex is a course design model that presents the components of hybrid learning in a flexible course structure that gives students the option of attending sessions in the classroom, participating online, or doing both. Students can change their mode of attendance weekly or by topic, according to need or preference…” – Educause: Seven things you should know about the Hyflex course model.
Some students come to class physically or virtually, synchronously or asynchronously. A common design (e.g. OSU’s Hyflex Model) is to offer students the option of deciding which of these modalities they intend to participate it on a weekly basis. Students, regardless of the modality they select, need to be engaged in substantive student-to-instructor, student-to-student, and student-to-content course interactivity.
“…the HyFlex instructor is newly challenged to make sure all of her students are engaged in interactive, generative learning activities no matter which participation mode they choose.” –Dr. Brian Beatty, Associate VPAA at San Francisco State University
Certainly design and delivery are fundamental to a quality educational experience for students, but campuses considering the Hyflex option will also need to assess the logistics of course sections, teaching load, technical support for faculty and students before embarking in this highly flexible emerging learning format.
Blended Learning is a different animal when it comes to instructional design. In a traditional face-to-face course, interactions take place primarily in the classroom. In the fully online course, we design for asynchronous activities. However in the case of blended delivery we must make choices – which activities will we deliver online and how will we make the best use of our face to face time.
Decisions regarding modality and media are made primarily based on efficient use of resources. The model offers a relatively short learning curve for both faculty and students in regards to technology. Deliver the content in a media format most appropriate to the outcomes – this may mean simply recording the lectures as in “The Flipped Classroom” model, or it may podcasting – simply posting audio recordings.
They have developed decision trees for each of the three stages: 1) Basic Instructional Mode Selection, 2) Primary Delivery System, Instructional Setting, and Instructional Strategies selection, and 3) Media and Communications Tools.
Although the system was developed for Army training it offers important considerations for higher education as well. The process challenges designers to consider some important questions: do students need to participate in field exercises (this could be “lab” experiences)? Is there a need to distance synchronous communication (Skype, Elluminate, Adobe Connect)? Will students be creating/delivering presentations (individual or group) in the classroom?
Their system certainly isn’t the only model and may not be the best or most appropriate for your course or program. However, it does provide a framework from which to begin and offers considerations important to the selection of media, asking essential questions important to the design and delivery of both online and face-to-face learning interactions.