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.
Aha! I hear you say – this is all very well! I’ve just been though the article outlining the benefits of Hyflex methods – but why on earth are you telling me all this if it is not something we can actually use?
Well – firstly there are a number of valuable things we can take from the Hyflex model, and that are useful and applicable to things like the model Dual Delivery we use at UEL.
But there are some practical considerations and problems inherent in the Hyflex model that we need to take account of.
Like most Universities we currently have an immensely complex, costly – but effective and well-established administrative infrastructure designed to enrol students, track students, give students the right access to things and give them the right support when they need it. One of the cost implications of Hyflex is the need to radically overhaul many of these systems.
New mechanisms would be needed to track attendance and participation.
Most administrative systems are designed for consistency, predictability, and repeatability. How do you design an administrative system that can effectively manage modes of delivery that are dynamic and fundamentally uncertain? And – assuming you cannot afford to increase your administrative staff by 1000% – how can you automate that system?
The balance of cost to benefit and risk to reward calculations are frankly rather nerve-wracking.
But there are more potential problems to take into account.
As discussed in the article introducing Hyflex, the mode of delivery itself has significant implications for modes of assessment and course learning outcomes. In many cases, an overhaul of the curriculum might be necessary to accommodate Hyflex delivery patterns. As Beatty says:
“Course planning should explicitly support facilitating an active and engaging learning community shared by all students regardless of participation mode. This planning takes time”.Beatty, 2019
I can well imagine. The process of designing a curriculum that incorporates two complete but interchangeable learning paths to fully support both online and in-class participation seems an intimidating one.
Training and Supporting Staff
More intimidating still when we factor in the degree of expertise in online learning design necessary to complete it – requiring extensive faculty support in learning how to teach effectively online, and de sign engaging online content and interactive experiences for students in all participation modes.
But the challenges don’t end when the course has been written and validated – because for teaching staff developing course materials for Hyflex delivery will take longer than developing the same for a single mode class. At the same time, workloads associated with single modules will increase through having to maintain out-of-class interactions with students who expect in-person support and engagement (often in faculty office hours) and students who require online personal support.
How can such demands be effectively supported?
In some institutions that have tried Hyflex methods, staff have been financially compensated for the additional time they spend on course development – in amounts ranging from about $1500 to $5000.
In others, they have had to rearrange other work and contracted teaching hours to allow for HyFlex development. A 20% reduction in teaching hours seems common.
The point is, that using a Hyflex approach to teaching has many complex implications. It requires a whole-institution gathering of decision-makers to understand those implications, and to analyse the long-term investment required to make it successful.
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