Hyflex Course Delivery: Learner Choice, Equivalency, Reusability, Accessibility

Concurrent Session 10
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Brief Abstract

HyFlex courses support a highly customized learning experience appreciated by students.  In this interactive session we will describe the evolution of a HyFlex undergraduate course, discuss the benefits and challenges of HyFlex delivery, identify institutional support and technology needs, and consider the potential impact of HyFlex delivery on an institution.  

Presenters

Glori Hinck DC, EdD is an instructional designer/technologist for the University of St. Thomas E-Learning and Research Center (STELAR) in Minneapolis, MN. This role involves online and blended course design and development as well as faculty development and support related to academic technologies and online learning. Glori earned an MET and EdD in educational technology and a certificate in online teaching through Boise State University and a certificate in instructional technology from the College of St. Scholastica. For her doctoral dissertation she studied quality assurance in online MBA programs. Glori has over a decade of teaching experience, both online and face-to-face, and has created and taught a wide variety of courses from physiology and chiropractic technique to social media professionalism and online course design. Glori is also professional development faculty for OLC.

Extended Abstract

Introduction

Our university first offered online courses to undergraduate students during the summer of 2017 in an initiative called ‘Take XXX University home for the Summer’.  As part of this initiative, we developed and offered one core finance course in the HyFlex (hybrid + flexibility) model of course delivery as a proof of concept.  The HyFlex model was first developed by Dr. Brian Beatty in 2006 for use in his graduate courses at San Franciso State University as a way to address the challenges faced by commuter students.  Although our students do not typically face the same commuting challenges and may prefer face-to-face participation, during the summer they are often busy working or completing internships that prevent them from taking on-campus courses.

The HyFlex Course Delivery Model

The HyFlex model offers a flexible participation policy for students in a conceptual framework that combines varying degrees of synchronous and/or asynchronous online components and face-to-face components in a single course.  It allows students to choose which delivery model to participate in over the course of the term (Beatty, 2008; Educause, 2010; Miller, Riser, and Griffiths, 2013).  The HyFlex model takes into account adult learning styles and the learning needs of individual adult students and maximizes the effectiveness of instruction for all students (Abdelmalak and Parra, 2016).  It allows a high degree of customization and gives students more control over the learning process.  Students can change their mode of attendance weekly or by topic, according to need or preference.  While instructors provide course content for multiple participation modes and can tailor activities for each format, students frequently take the same final assessment, regardless of the chosen path through the material.

Our HyFlex Model

Students taking the HyFlex summer course choose to participate in one of three tracks for each of the bi-weekly class periods:

  1. Face-to-face in an active learning classroom  
  2. Synchronously online through web-conferencing
  3. Asynchronously online using Canvas

The four principles described by Beatty (2008) guide our HyFlex course design process:

  1. Learner choice- Learners are able to choose from meaningful alternative participation modes.
  2. Equivalency- The learning activities provided to student in each mode may be different, but must provide equivalent learning opportunities so that students can be successful no matter how they participate.
  3. Reusability- The learning artifacts in each participation mode are available to all students
  4. Accessibility- It is important to equip students with the necessary technology skills and tools so that they are able to access all participation modes.

The course relies heavily on cloud-based and other technologies including the Canvas learning management system, a capture computer and camera with Panopto, KappIQ board for whiteboarding, SHARP SVSI video distribution, Zoom Room controlled with an iPad, and the Axis streaming assistant.  Audio was enhanced with a Catch Box throwable microphone and instructor lavalier mic.  One to two students assisted the instructor during each class period with set-up, monitoring the Zoom chat and reminding students to use the Catch Box microphone when speaking.  They also controlled the wall-mounted classroom camera with a joystick to improve the quality of the video.

The on-campus and Zoom students engage with each other and the instructor during class time and their interactions are captured in a Panopto video recording for viewing by the asynchronous students.  These videos along with additional course materials are available to all students on Canvas.  Students in all tracks complete the same readings, assignments and exams, with online students taking exams through Proctorio.  Daily participation points are assigned based on active classroom participation for on-campus and Zoom students and a graded asynchronous assignment submission for those participating online.

Evaluation

It is important to consider the impact of any new educational delivery model on student satisfaction, learning and achievement.  During the last week of the Summer 2017 term we used Qualtrics to survey students regarding their HyFlex experience.  The response rate for the online students was poor due to challenges in obtaining informed consents.  This skewed the data towards the opinions of the face-to-face participants and limited statistical analysis of learning outcomes and participation across tracks.  However, even with this limitation, survey results combined with instructor feedback, anecdotal evidence and IDEA scores support continued use of this model and the data collected was of value in informing and improving the Summer 2018 HyFlex offering. 

Qualtrics Survey

  • Participants
    • 38 enrolled students
    • 19 (50%) informed consents completed
    • 14 (38%) surveys completed
    • Majority of the informed consents and surveys were completed by face-to-face students due to constraints in getting consents signed and returned by online students.
  • Results
    • Students appreciated the flexibility offered by the HyFlex model.
      • One student quote summarized the experience,

I prefer going in face-to-face. In this case I LOVED being able to have options. I am very busy and always traveling and working in different areas. It was nice for me to still have the ability to take this course even though I wasn't there all the time.

  • When asked the mode of participation that they would prefer for most of their courses, 13 students responded:
    • Completely in person  (6), HyFlex (5), Blended (1), Fully online (0)
  • Few students chose to participate synchronously online.     
  • Even though the course was heavily technology dependent, technical glitches were minimal and primarily limited to isolated issues with poor audio quality.   
  • Learning activities rated as having high or very value:
    • Face-to-face classroom sessions 11/11  
    • Live web-conferencing sessions 4/4
    • Recorded web-conferencing sessions 10/10
    • Online asynchronous discussions 8/11
    • Online peer interaction 6/9
    • Face-to-face peer interaction 8/10
    • Weekly assignment 12/12
    • Textbook readings 4/12

Summary of Lessons Learned

  • Our HyFlex model is highly dependent on technology and successful implementation requires a motivated tech-savvy instructor, experienced instructional design and technology support staff, and broad institutional support. 
  • Technology helps to support achievement of Beatty’s (2006) four core HyFlex principles.
    • Students appreciate the flexibility and learner choice offered by this course delivery model as well as the reusability of the learning objects across tracks.
    • Cloud technology, ease of use of technology tools, and readily available support allows students to access the participation mode of their choice. 
    • Equivalency is an area in which we can improve.  The original text-based participation assignments for asynchronous students did not provide a learning experience equivalent to that of the face-to-face and online synchronous experiences.  The Summer 2018 course will use VoiceThread instead of a text-based discussion with asynchronous students video recording a response to an instructor video prompt.  This will better replicate the classroom experience in which students are required to verbally support their views to the instructor. 

While our institution may never broadly adopt the classic HyFlex model, there are select courses and situations where it can be a valuable addition to our portfolio of blended course offerings.  Lessons learned through this experience have also guided and informed other unique and innovative blended learning experiences across the university.

SESSION ENGAGEMENT

Participants will discuss the benefits and challenges of the HyFlex course delivery model from the perspectives of faculty, administrators, ITS staff, and instructional design/technology staff with small groups reporting back to the full group.

SESSION OUTCOMES

Participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the benefits and challenges of the HyFlex course delivery model
  • Identify institutional supports needed to support the HyFlex model
  • Articulate the potential impact of the HyFlex delivery model on their institution

REFERENCES

Abdelmark, M.M.M. and Parra, J.L. (2016). Expanding learning opportunities for graduate students with HyFlex design. International Journal of Online Pedagogy and Course Design, 6(4).

Beatty, B. (2007). Hybrid classes with flexible participation options: If you build it, how will they come?, presented at the Annual Convention of the AECT.  Retrieved from http://www.drbrianbeatty.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/aect_p...

Beatty, B. (2008). Using the "HyFlex" course and design process. Retrieved from http://olc.onlinelearningconsortium.org/effective_practices/using-hyflex...

Beatty, B. (2006). Designing the HyFlex world, presented at the Annual Convention of the AECT.  Retrieved from http://www.drbrianbeatty.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/beatty....

Educause. (2010). 7 things you should know about the HyFlex course model. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7066.pdf

Miller, J.B., Riser, M.D., and Griffiths, R.P. (2013). Student choice, instructor flexibility: Moving beyond the Blended Instructional Model. UAiR Issues and Trends in Educational Technology, 1, 1. Retrieved from https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/itet/article/view/16464/16485