By Glori Hinck, EdD and Kathryn Russell, MA, JD Instructional Designers at the University of St. Thomas
“Wow. Painful. Ok, at least we know we just have to press all the buttons, tap our shoes together three times, turn to the left, send up a prayer, and then….maybe…. things will work! Simple right!? We just can’t let this turn into a “How many IDs does it take to . . . .” joke. 😉
The quote above came from one of our colleagues after viewing the recording of our first practice session with the new HyFlex classroom technology. You might ask, why did we think it important enough to push through the initial challenges and problems to try to master this delivery mode? First and foremost, we believe it will help more students succeed as they are able to choose their modality based on learning styles and needs, giving them more control over the learning process. In our role as instructional designers, the better we understand the underlying technology, the better we can guide the HyFlex course design process.
Our principal goal in that first session was to ‘quickly’ learn how to use the technology so that in addition to delivering our own courses, we could be better prepared to support faculty. When we rolled into our usual training classroom, we found it not yet outfitted with the new technology. So, we traipsed across campus to an ‘equivalent’ classroom. Except, it wasn’t. Equivalent that is. Once in the ‘equivalent’ classroom, seven instructional designers with a vast array of experience collaborated in-person and online to problem-solve and troubleshoot how to deliver a HyFlex session. Our focus was to get our live “Room-ers” and online “Zoom-ers” together in one functional, recordable session. Even with this tech-savvy group of testers, we encountered a number of unexpected glitches including a camera that pointed at the ceiling with a remote control that had to be rebooted (twice!), confusion around extending the presentation to a second screen, numerous audio challenges, and the need to do tasks in sequence when we didn’t know the sequence! It wasn’t pretty, but we ultimately did manage to share a PowerPoint presentation with both online and in-person participants and enable a quality audio experience for all. And, recorded it for posterity!
Not an auspicious beginning…However, in our defense, we had worked remotely since the beginning of the pandemic and due to social distancing had not been in a classroom with faculty nor had we used the new equipment. And, while we supported the Canvas side of mixed-mode and HyFlex teaching, none of us had actually taught using HyFlex.
Does this mean that HyFlex is too difficult or challenging to deliver? Absolutely not! For a successful HyFlex experience (from the classroom technology perspective) consider the following:
* Know your equipment and call in the tech experts if needed. We would have saved a lot of time had we started with classroom tech support from the beginning.
* Practice, Practice, Practice! With the technology you will be using and in the classroom you will be teaching in, and, with in-person and remote participants.
* Take copious notes.
* Arrange for support your first time live HyFlex teaching experience. Mostly for moral support, but also as back-up in the event of technology failure.
* Have fun! We did!