Analyzing the Feasibility of HyFlex

Originally posted on February 15, 2013 by Brian Beatty

If you are considering using the HyFlex approach in courses or programs, you are probably completing some sort of feasibility analysis before moving forward with detailed design, development or implementation.

A careful analysis of needs, benefits, and costs is important.

What questions should your feasibility analysis answer? (see the assess_need_hyflex (linked PDF) for a worksheet that may help)

First, you should clearly establish or validate the need to use both types of delivery – online and f2f – in the same class sections. If you find that there is no good justification for delivering instruction in both modes at the same time, with the same general set of resources, then perhaps HyFlex isn’t a good choice.

Why might an organization (or person) want to deliver both modes at once? Here are five common reasons for moving forward with HyFlex (ok, a few more are mixed in here):

  1. Extend instruction to online students with existing f2f classes. (Expand market? Access?)
  2. Provide a socially interactive ‘real’ instructional option for online students.
  3. Allow students the flexibility to attend class in person or online, depending on THEIR needs and wants (schedule, personality, work/family requirements, etc.)
  4. Leverage online resources (archived lectures and other activities) to support unlimited student review of content. Enhance access to various learning styles or language levels through recording and multiple modes of presentation and interaction.
  5. Build in capability and capacity for online delivery within an existing traditional instruction environment.
    1. Business continuity and/or disaster recovery plans
    2. Respond to changing needs of students and key stakeholder groups

Of course, considering the value that you can expect from HyFlex is only one side of the analysis. You also need to determine how much implementing HyFlex is going to cost various stakeholders. A few key “costs” to consider:

  1. Design and development time to create HyFlex courses, or adapt existing f2f or online courses. (Faculty, instructional designers)
  2. In the atypical case of wanting to implement a f2f component in an existing online course (or program), providing physical meeting facilities.
  3. Managing faculty issues
    1. Workload (development time/delivery time/possible enrollment cap changes)
    2. Training faculty to teach online (or in class – faculty might benefit from teaching support in both delivery modes).
  4. Determining the administration of enrollment and participation requirements (residency, seat-time, etc.).
    1. Will students be “online”, “regular”, or be labeled in some new way?
    2. How will classes be scheduled into rooms? (typically they won’t need space for full enrollment)
    3. How will students be scheduled into classes? Will students be allowed to schedule two classes at once, if one or both is delivered in HyFlex mode? (you might classify HyFlex classes as “online” in your scheduling system for student enrollment, but as regular classes for room scheduling)
  5. Supporting student success through preparation and support in HyFlex
    1. Time management (scheduling time/place to “attend” class – anytime, anywhere)
    2. Technology mediated instructional environments (LMS, email, etc.) may require additional technical support (24/7?)
    3. Self-regulation (“Am I a good online (or classroom) learner? Should I change modes?”)

Once you’ve looked at both sides of this comparison, you may need to weight various factors to help you decide if and how to proceed with HyFlex. Every situation will have its own set of context factors and weighted variables to consider. In the end, most cases of HyFlex implementation are also cases of organization change and require effective change management strategies. See posts like this summary of messaging to various HyFlex adoption groups for more along this line.

Note: In Fall 2013 I assumed larger administrative responsibilities at San Francisco State University and put my teaching on hold. With that, posts to the HyFlex World blog also slowed considerably (even stopped for a few years). Continuing fruitful academic work while working as a fulltime administrator – even on the Academic Affairs side of higher education – is extremely difficult!

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