Stretched. Hyflex in a pandemic

We’re taking hyflex (hybrid flexible) here as teaching online and campus students at the same seminar at the same time, equivalently.

Against a purple neon and black background with a Cocktail/Tron/Xanadu clubnight vibe, the text: HyFlex is Hybrid / Flexible. No more weird jokes.

For decades we’ve been able to teach campus and online students in live seminars at the same time. Early writing about this sets out a vision of inclusion. Students who would otherwise be unable to join a timetabled seminar – because of caring commitments, being unwell, geographical distance, finances or competing demands – could cut the commute and participate online. So this kind of teaching has had a place since the web was young – but it was Covid19 that really kicked hyflex into play.

Universities which decided to offer each student a quota of taught hours on campus began to explore hyflex as a way of overcoming the reduced capacity of teaching rooms. However, teaching that way wasn’t conceived for a pandemic – it demands an immense amount from educators. You need to be proficient teaching physically-distanced, face-covered students on campus. You also need to be proficient teaching online students – a distinct repertoire of strategies along with mastery of your technology (and if your platform falls short on social presence or checking learning, you need to come up with creative work-arounds). And then with hyflex you need to do both at once with your own nose and mouth covered – attentively, equitably, interactively, effectively and in such a way that students recognise its educational benefits distinct from on campus or online alone. Three modes is quite a stretch for most educators under pressures of a global mega-crisis.

This month’s texts

If you haven’t seen hyflex in action, here’s a video introduction from Chris Sharp, learning technologist at the University of Florida – but note that example is oriented to large groups and there are other ways of configuring a room and the technologies.

If you only read one thing:

Predating Covid19, this illustrated systematic review summarises pre-existing benefits and challenges from organisational, student and educator perspectives.

Further reading

Converting an existing course:

And at the microlevel, scaffolding student interactions:

Some questions to think about:

  • If you had a good budget to fit out a flagship hyflex room, what kind of hardware, software and furniture would you buy, how would you set them up, and why? Prioritise pedagogical considerations, from student and educator perspectives.
  • What promotes or disrupts equivalence of learning and for online and campus students in a hyflex setting?
  • What are the main things educators need to be aware of and master?
  • What implications does Covid19 have for hyflex?

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