From Hyflex to Balanced Pedagogy: A Case Study and Lessons in Quality, Flexibility, and Collaboration

Leadership

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Brief Abstract

How did quality, flexibility, and collaboration co-exist in institutions that sought to focus on student learning during 2020? The presenter will describe a case study of one institution’s journey through 2020. Participants will share their own journeys resulting in a SlideShare consisting of institutions of multiple sizes and missions.

Presenters

I am the Associate Dean of Digital Learning and Innovation at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, in Belton, TX. I also serve as the University Assessment Coordinator for SACSCOC assessment. Prior to this, I was a Professor and Chair of the Teacher Education Division and SACSCOC Liaison at the Baptist College of FL (2013-2018) and an Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida (2005-2012). While at UCF, I served as the Director of Program and Research for the Morgridge International Reading Center. My research agenda is the study of online interactions - various modalities and ways to measure them. I am investigating the Connected Stance or one in which students are engaged and show a high level of participation and a variety of moves during online classes.

Extended Abstract

Spring 2020 tested the mettle of institutes of higher education like no other term in history. COVID-19 changed the educational landscape during the nationwide shutdown. Emergency Remote Teaching after Spring Break 2020 was the norm, and faculty and students had to adjust quickly to new software, new hardware, and new teaching methods, in some cases reducing academic achievement (Motz, Quick, Miles, 2021). Leadership styles were forced to change and flex also, considering the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) environments of the past year in what some termed “Shock Leadership” (Shufutinsky, DePorres, Long, & Sibel, 2020). Leaders, faculty, and students in most programs were sent through an “emergency school of necessity” training;  in effect building a plane while flying it.

In the Fall 2020 term, with the virus still an unknown quantity and no vaccines available, one small, private university dealt with the issue by adopting a hyflex model (Beatty, 2019), engaging the three modalities of face-to-face, online only, and online synchronously. For this institution, the summer of 2020 was filled with learning opportunities for faculty enhancement and over 6,500 emails, messages, phone calls, and informal meetings took place to prepare for Fall 2020. The IT and Physical Plant departments researched and installed webcams and microphones in 97% of the teaching classrooms. And a hearty collaboration was developed between the physical plant personnel, IT technology experts, and the Instructional Designers from the Center for Digital Learning.

Early results showed that student learning may have paid the toll for this flexibility and new way of teaching (Means & Neisler, 2021). So, before the Spring 2021 term, the institution created an ad hoc committee that reviewed models of pedagogy focusing on student learning rather than a strict hyflex format. They suggested revisions for the Spring 2021 term based on effective practice and faculty and student surveys during Fall 2020. For example, the Review Committee suggested that hyflex courses supported only two of the three modalities (f2f and online synchronous) thereby limiting students’ option of asynchronous learning to those who were battling health issues.

With all the changes in f2f teaching during 2020, a national threat developed that centered on definitions of quality and intentional design of fully online coursework. Often, faculty did not have the capacity to create quality online courses, given the time constraints and lack of preparation. In the case study institution, some faculty members had never taught online prior to Spring 2020 and they had never designed an effective online course or module. This trend caused some confusion to conflate hyflex or hybrid models with quality online courses that were intentionally designed.  

What lessons have emerged from 2020? How did the case study institution offer faculty training, development, and support while meeting the needs of students from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021?

In this session, participants will explore the hyflex model in three themes: quality, flexibility, and collaboration. The presenter will provide stories and lessons learned in each category reflecting on the journey of the case study institution during the past year. Through these lessons, participants will learn aspects of managing an institution-wide change that was based on quality, flexibility, and collaboration. Participants will also be invited to submit their own stories on these themes on a shared Google doc, which will be converted and disseminated using a Slideshare presentation. The presenter will also provide resources (handouts, curriculum ideas, web URLs, etc.) for the hyflex model and online and hyflex Active Learning Strategies.

Session objectives:

1.     Participants will learn about one institution’s course implementation journey from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021.

2.     Participants will learn and suggest additional aspects of managing an institution-wide change.

3.     Participants will share narratives of their own pedagogical journeys by contributing to a shared Google doc that will be published on Slideshare after OLC 2021.

Beatty, B. J. (2019). Hybrid-Flexible Course Design (1st ed.). EdTech Books. https://edtechbooks.org/hyflex

Means, B., & Neisler, J. (2021). Teaching and Learning in the Time of COVID: The Student Perspective. Online Learning, 25(1). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v25i1.2496

Motz, B., Quick, J., Wernert, J., & Miles, T. (2021). A Pandemic of Busywork: Increased Online Coursework Following the Transition to Remote Instruction is Associated with Reduced Academic Achievement. Online Learning, 25(1). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v25i1.2475

Shufutinsky, A., DePorres, D., Long, B., & Sibel, J. R. (2020). Shock Leadership Development for the Modern Era of Pandemic Management and Preparedness. International Journal of Organizational Innovation, 13(1), 20–42.