As part of The University of East London’s development week, we were asked to provide some training on Hyflex course design. This text and video formed part of that training.
There are a number of different benefits to a Hyflex approach, and Beatty organises these into benefits for:
- The institution
- For the Students
- and for the Faculty
To begin with, on paper Hyflex seems to be a great way to expand the student market – the increased flexibility of delivery patterns will make participation possible for potential students with fluctuating responsibilities (like kids, work, illness or anything else that makes it difficult to commit long-term to a set pattern of attendance).
These same factors can lead to a reduced time to graduation – as issues that might normally require a student to suspend their studies or seek extenuation, may find the flexibility of a Hyflex course makes continued participation possible.
Further cost benefits can be found in the extent to which the provision of online and in-class participation enables increased enrolment – if you are not limited in your enrolment by the number of students you can fit into a single classroom or lecture hall, then you can have more students on a single course. In fairness though – this cost benefit is no different from blended or multi-modal patterns of delivery. In fact, it may even be more limited: In a multi-modal delivery, students can enrol as either online or in-class – and those numbers will remain largely static. This means you can reliably predict the space requirements for delivering the courses.
In a Hyflex course, since students can change their attendance patterns continually, it becomes much harder to be able to predict space requirements. Meaning that you could book a lecture theatre that seats 100, and have only 5 turn up – or equally you could book a classroom that fits 30, and have 150 turn up.
Perhaps more pertinently, Hyflex approaches are an innovative response to the changing needs of students and key stakeholders – because let’s not forget that the kind of flexibility it represents can appeal to employers just as much as to students. It taps into many of the kind of key drivers a University might be interested in:
- It increases access;
- It responds to student needs;
- it can contribute to greater student success;
- It provides fresh and relevant research opportunities
- And it is a real marketing opportunity.
For students, Hyflex provides increased access. It’s focus on providing multiple modes of access can not only fit in with the individual needs of students, but can make it an attractive choice for employers wishing to support the professional development of their staff. It is a mode of delivery that can fit around your life and work.
Additionally, Hyflex promises more learning resources: Beatty points out that multiple modes of participation often require more robust instructional materials, enabling richer instruction and providing additional opportunities for learning.
Beyond this though, Hyflex provides the kind of benefits that Blended Learning often promises – but fails to deliver. Blended learning is often interpreted, or manifested, as simply the online availability of in-class resources – or a straightforward choice of On Campus or Distance Learning study modes. What neither of these approaches actually provide for students is the opportunity to get the benefits and strengths from both modes.
With a Hyflex approach, online students are provided with socially interactive ‘onground’ instructional options. At the same time, on campus students can benefit from the additional learning opportunities provided by well-designed online content.
Of course many of the benefits experienced by both students and the institution, will be felt as benefits to faculty as well. Increased recruitment, increased student success and student satisfaction are all – after all, ultimately what we are all about.
Beyond this though there are other benefits to be found. Key among these is the extent to which staff will develop skills and experience in teaching online without giving up classroom teaching. Hyflex doesn’t prioritise one over the other, but emphasises the interdependency of both.
Those online teaching skills though, mean that faculty will begin to develop the kinds of online resources that not only have genuine value to students, but that support unlimited student reviews. This means that time can be managed more efficiently: Where activities benefit the most from being re-useable and reviewable, online resources can be developed – freeing face-to-face time and preparation for those activities that benefit most from this live social environment.
And of course, it is worth remembering that all the benefits of flexibility experienced by students can – to a large extent – be carried over to staff as well. Where scheduling conflicts occur, or flexibility is needed, faculty can themselves take advantage of the fluidity of delivery patterns to fit around their timetables.
This article has been based on Brian Beatty’s book:
- Beatty, B. J. (2019) Hybrid-Flexible Course Design, EdTechbooks.org [online]. Available at: https://edtechbooks.org/hyflex