Lost no more...Instruction and Holidays
Academic calendars on the surface are pretty straight forward. Fall classes start late August/early September, end in December; spring classes start in January, end in May; summer classes start in May, end in August. However, even the most intentional academic calendar has occasional shortened weeks due to planned and unplanned campus closures. If your institution offers 7 or 8 week accelerated courses, the impact of a campus closure is even greater. HyFlex course design levels that playing field.
Losing valuable instructional days can be discouraging, despite the reason. American holidays are a value woven into our culture and interestingly, nearly all impact Mondays. Observations for Martin Luther King, Jr Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day all occur on Mondays; Independence Day can fall anywhere in the week but in 2021, we will observe on Monday, July 5th. Late in the year, while not a Monday, Thanksgiving week sends students home for long holiday weekends. Is your college a religious-affiliated institution and observe additional holidays? How does weather impact instruction? Environmental cancellations due to snow, ice, or extreme temperatures? Hurricanes? Wildfire smoke? How about other events? The list goes on, and when faculty and students cannot make it to campus due to planned and unplanned campus closures, face-to-face instruction is lost on those days.
Lost days no more…. that is, when courses are designed using HyFlex. Under normal circumstances, it is the student who chooses how to participate on a weekly basis; fully online or face-to-face. But when the instructional day falls on a holiday, weather closure, or other campus closure reason, the HyFlex course continues in the fully online format for the instructional week; no lost instruction!
How does HyFlex make this possible? Course design is built on four principles: learner choice, equivalency, reusability, and accessibility (Beatty, 2019). Two principles in particular are advantageous during holiday or class cancellation weeks. We know learner choice allows the student to choose the modality for the week, but using Memorial Day as an example, the institution makes the choice for the week. All face-to-face classes scheduled for Monday are cancelled and instruction will occur fully online for the week. Additionally, the HyFlex course design principle of equivalency allows for seamless flexibility during holiday weeks or class cancellation. The design ensures all learning activities lead to equivalent learning outcomes, therefor shifting from face-to-face to fully online does not jeopardize, or short-change learning. HyFlex courses are designed with learning activities and assessments that can be completed asynchronously so the only requirement needed is communication to the students. It is important students know which weeks will be fully online, or in the case of weather cancellations, the message is communicated per institutional policy.
The use of HyFlex course design allows instruction to continue, even while we pause to honor, remember, and thank the military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Wishing everyone a safe Memorial Day.
Beatty, B. J. (2019). Hybrid-Flexible Course Design: Implementing Student-Directed Hybrid Classes. EdTech Books. Available online: https://edtechbooks.org/hyflex/