What We’re Reading: Hybrid-Flexible Course Design

illustration by Clare Reid

As we approach the Fall semester and keep hearing about potentially planning for a HyFlex teaching model, many of us are looking for a crash course on what a HyFlex model means for our course design. HyFlex—in its original conception—was designed for students who live on or close to campus. It was not meant as a solution for distance education, but rather as a means to give residential and commuter students flexibility in how to attend class. The result would be that, on any given day, some students would be physically present in the classroom, while others would be joining virtually. This flexibility is attractive right now, when the effects of the pandemic are forcing schools to make decisions about how many students can fit into a classroom on campus, even if they live on or near campus (Maloney and Kim, 2020).

Brian J. Beatty, Associate Professor of Instructional Technologies in the Department of Equity, Leadership Studies and Instructional Technologies at San Francisco State University, recently edited a book on that very topic, Hybrid-Flexible Course Design: Implementing Student-Directed Hybrid Classes. Published open-access through EdTech Books, the book combines the theory of the HyFlex model with concrete examples of where this model has been implemented in programs all around the world. 

Of most interest, there is a unit about the implementation of the HyFlex model, with a section on Teaching a Hybrid-Flexible Course as well as a section on the student’s perspective, Learning in a Hybrid-Flexible Course. Part III of the collection focuses exclusively on institutions and programs that have adapted a HyFlex model, which includes Using HyFlex in Statistics for Engineers and (Data) Scientists, an example from the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University. The example from the University of St. Thomas highlights the technology used to facilitate a HyFlex classroom environment, while the example from Montana State University Billings recounts the implementation of HyFlex courses on an institutional scale. There are other examples, from across institution types, providing a robust set of examples to consult. 

While not exhaustive in covering all possible programs, disciplines, or scenarios (for example, this book was conceived and written pre-pandemic), this book provides a valuable introduction to the HyFlex model, as well as accessible guidance for getting started. CNDLS has produced our own Guide to Teaching in a HyFlex Environment, but the collection Hybrid-Flexible Course Design: Implementing Student-Directed Hybrid Classes provides a deeper dive and more examples for faculty to draw and find inspiration from.