Using the "HyFlex" Course and Design Process

Award Winner: 
2008 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Dr. Brian Beatty
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
San Francisco State University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

HyFlex (hybrid + flexibility) course design provides a flexible participation policy for students.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

HyFlex (hybrid + flexibility) course design provides a hybrid format for face-to-face and online students and adds a flexible participation policy for students. Students may choose to attend face-to-face synchronous class sessions or complete course learning activities online without attending class in person. In a HyFlex course, the instructor provides instructional structure, content, and activities to meet the needs of students participating both in class and online. These are not necessarily completely separated sets of activities, and are typically not the same activities for both types of student participation, but must be equivalent sets of activities selected so that student learning can be effective in either participation format. No matter which participation format is chosen, teaching and learning activities should: • Be presented effectively (and professionally) • Engage learners with generative learning activities • Use authentic assessment to evaluate student learning The decision to adopt a HyFlex course design should consider the same factors used to decide whether or not to create a fully online course, observing these principles: Learner Choice: Provide meaningful alternative participation modes and enable students to choose between participation modes weekly (or topically). Equivalency: Provide equivalent learning activities in all participation modes. Reusability: Utilize artifacts from learning activities in each participation mode as “learning objects’ for all students. Accessibility: Equip students with technology skills and access to all participation modes. Once the decision to deliver all or part of a course in the HyFlex format has been made, the following steps should help instructors create an effective teaching and learning environment for both types of student participants. 1. Identify learning goals 2. Develop instructional objectives 3. Identify/create content 4. Select instructional activities 5. Create clear instructions 6. Prepare learning supports (documents, course site)

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

The Instructional Technology (ITEC) program is a graduate program in the College of Education at San Francisco State—all students and faculty commute to campus. In Spring 2007, surveys and participation patterns of 44 individual graduate students (48 enrollments) in 4 HyFlex courses evaluated 8 types of instructional resources; sense of connectedness to their peers, the instructor, the ITEC program, and SF State University; how well learning expectations were met; and what type of delivery they preferred. Preliminary data of one semester in three courses (n=34 students) shows students choose to participate online 22% of the time; choose f2f 68% of the time; with a 10% absenteeism rate. Online participation of 20-25% is consistent across all HyFlex courses, thus far.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Student Satisfaction: Primarily this course design allows students to control the pace of their lives just a little more. If they can choose to attend class at work, home, or while away from home on vacation or work assignments, they can adapt their school life to their other responsibilities. Cost effectiveness and institutional commitment: The HyFlex course allows our program to serve (and attract) online students; without spending the time, energy, and resources to build a completely separate and comprehensive online degree program. (A bridge to the future - for some students at least) Also, the California State University system is pushing for more online degree programs, and is conducting a market analysis this year to asses the “need” (read - potential revenue). HyFlex may present an opportunity for the campus and the system to jump into the online world without having to start at zero … using the strength of the existing courses and classroom-based programs to build equivalent distance learning experiences. Access HyFlex reduces commuting times and costs, and it helps learners become familiar with different technologies.

References, supporting documents: 

Brian J. Beatty, Designing the HyFlex World--Hybrid, Flexible Courses for All Students, Paper presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2006 Annual International Convention, October 13, 2006.

Other Comments: 

Proposed research includes these questions: Do students learn more effectively when they have the option to choose participation mode? Do students prefer to create their own blend of learning activities? Does a HyFlex course require more effort from the instructor? (How much more? Where is extra effort expended?) Does a HyFlex course require more effort from students? Which courses, instructors, and students (content, learning goals, values, etc.) are candidates for HyFlex design?

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Dr. Brian Beatty
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