You’re a change agent: Leverage the characteristics of HyFlex for specific contexts

Originally posted on November 30, 2010 by Brian Beatty

Disclaimer Note: I am NOT advocating the HyFlex delivery approach for all faculty, all students, or in all courses or disciplines. This discussion is targeted at situations where HyFlex delivery does make sense, solving important problems or enabling some significant new opportunity.

Faculty in the majority segments of an adoption population are generally willing to accept less risk in a “change” situation than are the early adopters in the same social system. Many faculty are pragmatists when it comes to curriculum design and delivery modes. Generally, pragmatists make decisions to change only when they see evidence of clear and accessible advantage in an innovative practice and when the change isn’t “too” difficult. Pragmatists often change in groups, preferring to stick with the practices of their influential peers rather strike out on their own. (Faculty first adopters are often willing to be the first ones to change because they like being ahead in some meaningful way – they want the benefit of the change more than they want the stability of maintaining the status quo.)

Specific strategies that may help pragmatic faculty decide to adopt HyFlex delivery include:

  1. Highlight advantages.Clarify the specific advantage that the HyFlex approach will provide. Tie the results of HyFlex with issues that the faculty care about and recognize as issues worth solving or opportunities worth pursuing.
  2. Take small steps.Develop a HyFlex model that begins with current successful delivery methods and expands only as much as needed to serve the “new” students. Do not ask faculty to give up what they do well now to teach in a new way. (Keep the strength, enhance with the new.) You might have faculty teaching online who are now able to accommodate classroom students as well. If this is your case, what will you need to add to your existing online course to make it work for classroom students as well? More likely, you’ll have faculty who are teaching courses in classrooms who will now have to teach online students as well. What do they have to add, at a minimum, to serve those students adequately? Beginning with new practices that are close to the existing delivery will make it easier for faculty to change. “Adequate” practices can be enhanced over time … but if a “gold standard” of HyFlex delivery is required to even begin teaching a new way, the barrier to adoption will be very high for most pragmatic faculty.
  3. Make success visible and valuable.Publicize initial successful efforts in ways that faculty value. When faculty hear about colleagues who have found success and are recognized for that, adoption from pragmatists may be more likely. Sometimes the advantages may not be readily noticed
  4. Provide a trial period.Allow for “tryouts” of the new delivery approach. Select few courses and faculty for an initial pilot of HyFlex, and make sure they are free to return to their previous (single mode) delivery method if it doesn’t work out for them or their students.

To review, when working with faculty considering adoption, leverage the characteristics of the HyFlex approach itself. What are its clear advantages? How compatible it is with current practice? How complex is it compared to what is being done now? How much commitment is needed to begin teaching with HyFlex? How visible are the advantages? As a change agent, you can make a difference and speed adoption where it makes sense.

If you are interested in the Diffusion of Innovations, play the “Diffusion Simulation Game” developed at Indiana University to experience the work of an educational change agent in a simulated context:

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