A community discussion of implementing HyFlex in the real world

How and when can we best use the HyFlex blended teaching approach?

Last week the Future Trends Forum met with Brian Beatty, the San Francisco State University professor who coined and first theorized the idea.  Given the pandemic and higher education’s response, Brian is obviously much in demand, so we were delighted that he could join the Forum to discuss HyFlex, not just once, but twice: this summer and last week.

Here’s the whole recording:

We had an hour of intense, rich conversation, and still there were questions and comments we didn’t get to.  I wanted to share all of them here.  Hopefully campuses can find some echoes or anticipations of strategic and operational questions.

I’ve Chatham House-ized the text, retaining the contents and words but removing speakers’ identities, except for a few who identified themselves.  I lightly edited comments for clarity and punctuation.  I also separated some into common, general categories; otherwise, the flow of comments is mostly chronological.  You’ll see some overlap among them.

All following text is by participants.  The only bits from me are the headers.

My deepest thanks to professor Beatty and the very fine Forum community for this discussion:


Standards

Are there “standards” like QM and others for HyFLex? I’m not so much into regulation, but to provide best practices.

I’d like to hear about any links between Hy Flex and universal design for learning?

Forum Hyflex 2 Nuffer Question

Equity

What if we all said, if everyone doesn’t have access, nobody gets access?

Speaking of inequities and the spirit of UDL, how can Hyflex continue to support access for all?

I have found that even more challenging than access to devices and wifi — has been a “place to learn” as their homes are small with many people. Reveals another level of inequity.

I would to see the research on asynchronous creating inequity from lower reported engagements.

Supporting faculty

I think many faculty in the U.S. discovered this year that they have fallen way behind in use of technology. It doesn’t get fixed overnight. For those that have been teaching online for years, I think this has been a much easier transition… For the record, I think a lot of workplaces discovered this too! 

What we need as faculty is continuous support from the respective staff. As I have progressed, I have had questions and requests that I am not prepared/trained to address right away. 

How much time did you put into planning your HyFlex courses prior to implementing? How much time in revising?

When asynchronous is an option, how do you keep students engaged and tuned in? Specifically in classes such as nursing and engineering where hands-on experiences are essential.

Forum Hyflex 2 small groups question

I’m interested in how small groups work with choice to participate synchronously or not class to class. Prefer pre-formed small groups that work together, build relationships, over a number of weeks.

In a hyflex HigherEd course, is there a recommendation on how much asynchronous/synchronous/f2f is involved so that is clear? I feel that the pedagogies may be mixed up.

Because of COVID, we have limits to how many students can come into the classroom. Do you have any suggestions for systems or processes for choosing/ inviting students into the classroom when there are capacity constraints?    

quick question – for the courses that are hyflex, will the instruction being delivered does it need to be consistent across all courses, or are you looking at it from a course by course basis so instructors have complete control on their delivery? 

FOLLOWUP question: how about compensation for faculty for teaching in hyflex or multimodal systems…arguably — its MUCH more difficult for faculty to do that.

Observing certificate candidates doesn’t include travel any longer; as face -to-face time reduces diminishes, is anyone else seeing lower pay for faculty?   

I’m seeing many of my colleagues talk about in-person, synchronous learning as something implicitly promised to faculty, that the college owes it to us to provide an environment that is as close to that setup as it can. 

Technologies 

Brian, if you distribute mics do you require a soundboard for each class?

Brian mentioned having students in the class log into the online environment even while in class. I’m curious about the impact of microphone/speaker feedback & how to manage that.

From experience are breakout rooms highly useful in HyFlex design? Or would you recommend trying to rethink design to find other ways to interact (we have AV limitations to using breakouts…)

One of the challenges for me to teach Hy-Flex is the lack of technology to capture classroom conversations so that the students who are online can hear. Much is lost when I repeat the question. Any advice for managing the limited technology? 

One challenge for me to teach Hy-Flex is the lack of technology to capture classroom conversations so that the students who are online can hear. Much is lost when I repeat the question. Advice?

What is the best combination of equipment that is required for students to have a good learning experience? We are exploring technology right now and want to get the “right” technology, spending a reasonable amount of money. Student experience is important. 

I feel like AV in classrooms is never good enough to carry the voice of the face-to-face learners to the virtual participants. Any tips on this? 

adding a ~$300 Voicetracker USB mic to our classrooms has been one way to quickly ‘convert’ a classroom to have strong audio input for Zoom.  

So many faculty computers (or classroom computers) are not powerful enough to really handle hyflex. Too much processing power to run live synchronous, direct to video screen, recording, doc camera, etc. 

We use a blue snowball condenser mic and webcam and that combo has gotten the audio quality well enough to facilitate conversation in class. 

I was thinking yesterday that I might start bringing a third screen to address that issue.  Of course that’s a big extra load for me, but I think it might be much better in terms of student-to-student engagement.

I am definitely going to invite my classroom students to also log into to my synchronous audio/video program.

No mic balls with COVID 

Finances

If an institution charges different cost/credit hour for on campus vs online course, where does hyflex sit in terms of charging students? If no difference, what about technology fees?

What means are various schools using to fund the technology needs?

As a learning community (staff, teachers, students, parents, admin) we can demand reallocation of funds (eg, from investments in private prisons) to tech access.

I think you should charge technology fees but give in-person rebates based on-campus costs (housekeeping, maintenance, AC, etc.) 

Forum Hyflex 2: four people on stage

General

Would you quickly define “hyflex” and “multimodal” the way you are using them?

Can we get a definition of what HyFlex is and, more importantly, what it isn’t?

How much time does it take to develop a hyflex course for the first time with a faculty? Are there any prerequisites?

How do we handle instruction of physical skills, such as nursing procedures or shop skills, in an increasingly online environment?

I love the emphasis on student choice in learning in the hyflex model! How can we help students have that same sense of choice when they have to be remote for situations outside of their control?

If the synchronous sessions are designed to be interactive and the recording is harvested as the kernel of an asynchronous experience – isn’t that asynchronous path the more impoverished?

How long are your workshops and are they a series of workshops that build a course over time or a one and done model?

The words engagement and attendance have been used interchangeably but in hyflex, attendance is not a measure of success.

besides the release time, what other institutional/ pedagogical support was most useful for teachers to do HyFlex most effectively?

(recommended) Ray Schroeder, “Thoughts on Creating an Inclusive Environment in Online Classes.”

What is the title of the open-access book? (Hybrid-Flexible Course Design)  

Thank you for confirming that using different modalities within a course is an effective strategy. I am doing face-to-face, streaming, and asynchronous at the same time. 

You have to play jazz with your teaching tools to reach all of your students.

Love Fort Lewis College!!! 

To Brian’s point, I think we should design classes so students can skip all synchronicity and still get what they need out of the class, even if it means for the faculty to give a phone call to a student once in a while. 

Delivery – every which way available. That includes mobile, audio (w/visual available online), email, etc. 

Some of my students who were home could not hear my students in the classroom in part because we were all wearing masks.

A remote synchronous class taught with good pedagogy can be as or more effective than in person (provided the students have the resources to participate remotely, which they don’t always have)

I would be concerned that other classes may need or want the option to attend sync online or in-person. I find different classes have diff personalities. 

I had a student tell me today that he likes to be in-person, even when he’s the only one (like today), because it helps him focus and pay attention better than remote.   

Our school supposedly put in a major investment in classroom AV. I don’t know. We shut down again before we got to see what they’d done.

Agreed, you must right-size the tech!

I mention the audio, because I think audio is important for the student experience 

I always emphasize “creating a legacy”. Every student needs to leave a trace of what we have learned for the benefit of other students in this class AND for future offerings of the course. 

Yes! If you expect students to participate, you have to show them that you value that work. In our context, grades are the coin of the realm…

What about the learning implicitly promised to the students who pay their salaries.

I call them “class chores”, such as notetaker, recapper, highlight reel, the meta, etc. We also build Google Sites together as shared course content.   

If you need some positives to look forward to, I wrote this after the last FTF where we shared stories: “Finding the Silver Lining in 2020 — 10 Developments in Online and Remote Education That Make Us Hopeful” (Maria Andersen)   

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2 Responses to A community discussion of implementing HyFlex in the real world

  1. Glen McGhee says:

    Maybe at 36:00 the issue of assessment came up (what’s udl?), but “standards” in the sense of accountability never came up. In fact, accountability seems to have been pushed aside in the Covid-pivot.

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