This week one of my graduate students is talking about her experience as a HyFlex stduent in several courses. A big thanks to Catherine Mone!
“As an MA/Ed ITEC student who graduates this month, I’m feeling a sense of grateful surprise that the program wasn’t exactly what I’d expected, but was in many ways much more valuable. When I began attending SFSU in August of 2009, I thought I was starting an online program with infrequent face-to-face classes. As an adult learner this suited me; I assumed I’d just power through the coursework. Once in the program, I realized this was not what I’d gotten into. I found myself being offered a full classroom experience, augmented by technology. After grousing for a few weeks about how poorly the technology worked in comparison to the fancy phone-based systems I was accustomed to in the corporate world, then realizing how limited the department’s resources were and how willing everyone was to make it work, I settled into learning. I found great value in class time and meeting with peers, many of whom have extremely interesting backgrounds. Within the first semester, I had to confess that I would have missed a lot in an online-only program.
Hyflex, as it’s implemented at SFSU, lets an instructor store their materials in a learning management system (LMS), then present in a typical classroom, but with an online window for students who can’t come to class. Our LMS, which we call iLearn, is a custom online application created in Moodle. Think of it as a repository for files, an outliner that assembles those files to align with the course syllabus, and a suite of communication tools—forums and notifications for example—that let you receive assignments, delivery your work, and engage in discussions with your instructor and peers. An important part of the SFSU educational philosophy is personal reflection, and forums allow a natural way to reflect on what you’ve learned each week. Our classroom collaboration tool is the commercial product Elluminate (www.elluminate.com), a shared whiteboard with recording capabilities. Elluminate lets you attend class from home or another location, which we call synchronous use, or watch the video-taped class later, asynchronously. It’s great if you have to travel for work, or drive a long distance to school and don’t want to attend in person each week, or simply if you miss a class.
I took the entire ITEC 801 course online, in part just to see what it was like, and I found I could track well with the class and complete all my assignments without attending a single classroom day. Now, did I make the best use of the 801 offering? Perhaps not. But working online suited my independent needs, and I was grateful to have an opportunity to choose.
In retrospect, I have to say that I’m very happy to have chosen a ‘hybrid’ program rather than a purely distance course. Learners need flexibility, and to me, the Hyflex process provides this, and should be standard for any classroom work that can accommodate this approach. But you never want to underestimate what you can learn by being in a classroom with a good professor and others who share your interests. There’s an alchemy there that may surprise you.” Catherine Mone – ITEC 2010
A few other SF State Instructional Technologies graduate students share a few insights in short video interviews: