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What Does 'Flexible Hybrid' (Hyflex) Teaching Mean at Detroit Mercy?

What is ‘Flexible Hybrid’ (Hyflex) Teaching?

For the fall 2020 term, University of Detroit Mercy will adopt a flexible hybrid learning environment, in addition to courses that are taught 100% online. The "flexible hybrid" (sometimes shortened to "hyflex") label can be applied to a broad range of teaching styles. The defining characteristic is that these courses include a face-to-face component but physical attendance is not required. Students enrolled in hyflex courses have the option to attend face-to-face sessions, or they can choose to participate in instructional activities online. In preparation for the successful adoption of a flexible hybrid model, University of Detroit Mercy will provide substantially expanded pedagogical and technical support to all who teach.

Why hyflex? Why right now?

Although a flexible hybrid model is not “easy,” it offers several key advantages in the face of a public health crisis. Most importantly, it ensures continuity of high-quality, student-centered instruction if individuals cannot be physically present in class due to illness, self-isolation, immigration delays, immunocompromised status, or other factors. A flexible hybrid model also affords instructors the flexibility to maintain social distancing within classroom environments by, for example, dividing a class into smaller groups for face-to-face meetings coupled with on-demand online instruction. Finally, a flexible hybrid model will ensure that high-quality instruction can continue with minimal disruption in the case of a resurgence of the virus and the need to pivot to a 100% online environment.

What does flexible hybrid mean for my teaching?

Teaching a flexible hybrid class entails designing a high-quality online class with an optional face-to-face component for students who choose to attend class in person. It is up to faculty to decide how much (if any) face-to-face interaction they include in their course. Students who cannot or choose not to attend class in person should receive equivalent instruction/activities online. IDS can help if you are unsure about what constitutes equivalent instruction/activities. Courses that include face-to-face interactions and/or synchronous online interactions must have a time slot scheduled with the Registrar’s Office so students can set their availability expectations.

Why should I include face-to-face interaction at all?

Although 100% online courses can provide an excellent educational experience, they are not the same as a class that includes face-to-face interaction among students and between students and the instructor. The flexible attendance model gives students the option to choose the mode of participation that best supports their learning and their comfort level with face-to-face instruction. Many faculty members find deep pedagogical value in face-to-face interactions; a flexible hybrid model gives students and faculty the opportunity to engage in those interactions.

What forms can hyflex take?

A hyflex course may take many forms; below are the most common. Some models may need to be clarified with your dean and/or with the Registrar's Office.

  • Parallel Sessions: Students are given the option to attend face-to-face sessions or complete a set of online activities that parallel the face-to-face activities. Typically, the parallel online activities can be completed at any time over the course of a given week, although instructors can set those parameters. Students who plan to participate 100% online must register for the online section. Students who register for the face-to-face section and decide to participate entirely online instead should contact their instructor asap.
  • Combined Sessions (Livecasting): The instructor delivers live class sessions. Some students attend face-to-face, others are "streamed-in" via a tool like Blackboard Collaborate. Students who plan to participate 100% online must register for the online section. Note: Live casting or simulcasting face-to-face sessions is not an option for fall 2020 due to limited technological resources.
  • Alternate Sessions (Split Attendance Model): Students are split into three groups: One group participates 100% online; these students must register for the online section. The remaining groups are assigned to alternate days of face-to-face instruction and that instruction repeats. For example, students attend on Mondays or Wednesdays; the instructional content of those class sessions is the same. The remaining instruction takes place online (watching lectures, participating in discussion, etc.).
  • Modifications/Combinations: Faculty can combine or adapt the hyflex models for their course outcomes and teaching style. For example, a course could offer a weekly face-to-face check-in that is replicated (parallel session) or streamed (combined session) online and offer the remainder of instruction online for all students. Or a class could be largely online, with a few in-person sessions (that are streamed or have parallel activities) at key points in the term to help keep students on track or further clarify key points.

Are there limits to flexibility?

For all of these options, students who plan to participate 100% online must register for the online section and receive equivalent instruction/activities as students who participate in face-to-face instruction. Students who register for the face-to-face sections may choose to participate in some sessions online if they get sick or some other outside factor prevents them from attending face-to-face, but the expectation is that students will primarily participate face-to-face if that is the mode they registered for. If a student plans to participate face-to-face but needs to switch to 100% online, they should contact their instructor asap.

IDS is here to help.

IDS is here to provide you with guidance about how to adapt your teaching to a flexible attendance model. If you have questions, please register for one of our classes or workshops or get in touch with a designer.

Permalink Last updated 07/21/2020 by R. Davidson

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