I wholeheartedly believe that HyFlex is the future of higher education, but I also believe that many professors are intimidated by the time required to learn, design and build these types of courses efficiently and effectively.
Faculty can get overwhelmed at the prospect of learning how to use new technologies in the classroom — and trusting that those technologies will work during their classes. The additional time required to design and teach a HyFlex course that meets learning objectives for up to three different sets of students at the same time — live on-campus, live online and asynchronous online — must also be considered.
The professional development approach we take at Vanguard University addresses these concerns through a pedagogy-driven process that walks faculty step-by-step through building their courses in our learning management system. Courses are first built as fully asynchronous online courses. In-person opportunities come second. After the in-person session plans are added to the course and faculty are comfortable with how course facilitation is progressing, they are given the choice to add synchronous online options for their students as they see fit.
This course design training starts with a basic flipped model applied to a fully asynchronous course and adds equivalent in-person learning experiences for all students. While this method of course design is the opposite of how faculty usually approach course builds, the process produces courses that can be offered and taught as fully HyFlex, hybrid, asynchronous online, synchronous online and in-person courses.
Four Considerations When Training HyFlex Instructors in Higher Ed
The evidence-based professional development approach we use at Vanguard is based on a few important factors that include budget, faculty skill set, equity and access, and pedagogy.
For many institutions, the cost of installing the required technology in classrooms to facilitate concurrent in-person and virtual sessions is high. In addition, the cost of providing faculty members with the necessary initial and ongoing training and technical assistance for this approach can also be prohibitively expensive. This training and equipment could be deemed necessary, but not as a first step.
A significant percentage of faculty demonstrate exceptional skills in engaging their students in a conventional face-to-face setting, while a smaller percentage of faculty excel at engaging their students in a live virtual environment. An even smaller group of faculty members possess the ability to effectively engage both sets of students. Although it is feasible to achieve a successful live simultaneous engagement with the aid of top-notch equipment, technical support and training, it remains a challenging task and should not be required of faculty at the beginning of the process.
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Equity and Access
Although internet connectivity and speed may be relatively reliable on campuses, this is not necessarily true for a considerable number of our students who are off campus. Many students lack regular access to essential resources such as computers, tablets, smartphones, consistent high-speed internet connectivity, and a private and quiet space to log in to their classes. While there can and should be supports put in place to provide students with what they need technologically for better access, viable opportunities to participate asynchronously should be created first.
Many professors tend to teach their courses in the same traditional way they were taught, which usually involves in-person lectures with midterm and final exams. This approach has been prevalent throughout higher education's history. However, psychology of learning research indicates that a flipped approach that incorporates more formative, low-stakes activities and assessments and fewer summative, high-stakes activities and assessments is more effective in promoting student learning and overall success. Beginning with an already built, 100 percent asynchronous online course, a professor can increase the choices offered to students by incorporating more technology inside and outside the classroom.
LEARN MORE: Read Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s thoughts on humanizing asynchronous learning.
Great Course Design Is the Foundation for Great Technology Training
With this approach in place, institutions like Vanguard are ready to invest in a more extensive classroom technology infrastructure. Once courses have been built according to the HyFlex approach, and professors gain some experience teaching in the classroom using these courses as their guide, an institution is ready to go beyond the basics in classroom technology training. This includes more simultaneous (in-person and remote) synchronous online opportunities.
Along with building and teaching an engaging HyFlex course, training faculty on how to increase student flexibility and choice in the classroom takes a lot of time and hard work. This goal is achievable if you start simply and work your way toward more technologically heavy options as your skill set and faculty, technology, and student support systems allow.
Check out the Vanguard University Show Us Your Course Series to see this design in action.
MORE ON EDTECH: What is the flipped classroom and how is it being applied to hybrid learning?