The new ‘Hyflex Model’ is changing teaching
Whilst the Hyflex model—teachers teaching to both in-class students and others calling in via the internet—the global pandemic sweeping the planet has certainly accelerated the need for classroom transformation and innovation.
Blended Learning, Hybrid Teaching, Hyflex, whatever you want to call it, this style of teaching is being adopted at varying paces all around the world as technology improves and geographical landscapes become less of a barrier and more of an opportunity.
Whilst there are a variety of educational and teaching channels—such as the Open University—that are ‘digital first’ and have their own pros and cons, hybrid teaching needs further investigation to be fully understood. We’ll be writing a series on this topic.
Today, we will look at some basics of this style of teaching.
Let’s start with some challenges.
- Instructor’s mindset, for many teachers and students, this could seem like a large departure from the status quo, and subsequently, they might resist it. Design a fully online class and think of the interactions between in-class and remote students.
- Noice level in the classroom, ensure that both in-class and virtual attendees can hear the teacher, and each other, can be difficult and requires an investment in good microphones and a ‘mute-culture‘.
- Access to educational technology, whilst there are several excellent applications out there for video conferencing, being able to access them is another question. Not every school and every student has a laptop, tablet, or computer, and whilst these have come down in price, they could still be considered expensive.
- Access to the internet, even if students have adequate technology, internet speeds vary and fast connections will be vital for seamless teaching experience. This is especially challenging for students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Now we will look at some positives.
- Closer to equal opportunities than traditional teaching, in this environment, everyone can interact whether virtually or physically.
- Access to education for those who might not otherwise have it, students with health issues, geographical issues or other obstacles will not have to miss out if they are able to use — besides the app and website — the ‘dial-in’ feature to connect via phone to any of the videoconferencing systems.
- Empathy and understanding, students will have the opportunity to learn more about their classmate’s situations.
- Coursework can be delivered digitally, the need for cumbersome print outs, pens, paper, and more can be eliminated by using a learning management system (LMS).
- Sharing becomes easier, rather than making manual copies of notes electronic ones can be created and sent, e.g. collaboration via note-taking such as Etherpad or equivalents.
- Time management, recording can mean that those students with time issues can still receive the class later and not miss out.
- Proven deeper understanding, a study by the US Department of Education finds that those taking place in hybrid classrooms pay more attention and are more like to engage.
We will take a deeper dive into the advantages and disadvantages of this model of teaching in a future post, but we hope that this short primer gives you a better understanding of the Hyflex model.
Finally, for teachers reading, we will answer an important question about this style of teaching.
Do you need two versions of the same lesson?
Jenae Cohn, an academic research specialist at the University of Standford, suggests that thankfully, the answer is no.
Rather than designing two versions of the same course for your online and offline students, it is best, Cohn says, to ensure you’re planning for a digital-first but not digital-only experience, as it is easier to adapt your offline experience on the fly.
Cohn continues, appreciating that it is difficult to fully embrace what can be seen as a radical departure from the norm.
“It involves a fundamental rethinking of the instructor’s role in designing a learning experience. It’s not a bad thing to ask them to do that, but it’s a huge cognitive load right now.”
In conclusion, the advantages of this method need to be fully embraced.
Before we continue with this series, what are your thoughts on Hybrid Teaching?