What should be counted as equivalent participation in a HyFlex course?

When designing different types of courses, especially those that are HyFlex, it is extremely important to start with the establishment of clear and measurable course learning objectives (Check out this resource from UNC Charlotte). Once your learning objectives have been established, you can proceed to create participation/engagement activities that best match each of the delivery modalities that you are offering. It is recommended that you begin with the asynchronous activity and then move on to the in-person/virtual activities instead of the other way around. Because the asynchronous assignments are usually the most challenging to create, starting there sets the table for easily adaption into synchronous sessions. In preparing for the synchronous session, the professor can just look at the asynchronous activities, and have that discussion, do those breakouts, and meet the learning objectives in the live environment. Participation can then be easily identified as completion of the asynchronous assignment or engagement in the live sessions. Attendance can be taken, and points can be awarded, according to this participation in any modality.

Calculating student workload across the different delivery modalities can also be a challenge. It is essential that all attendance/delivery modalities meet the same learning objectives, but it is also vitally important that student workload hours are equivalent across these modalities. All institutions have credit hour policies that detail how many hours of student work (in person or online) should equal a credit hour. Generally, in a three-credit course there should between 117.5 and 135 hours of student participation via tasks such as: reading, studying, watching videos, taking tests/quizzes, listening to lectures, presenting, etc… A typical three-credit in person course would have approximately 40 hours of in the seat participation and 80 hours out of class participation. In its optimal form, the HyFlex approach additionally requires faculty to provide equivalent asynchronous activities for those who chose not to attend and participate in the synchronous (in person or virtual) opportunities. The time it takes students to participate in each activity (synchronously or asynchronously) is challenging to calculate, but tools like the Course Workload Estimator 2.0 from Wake Forest University make it much easier. This tool can help faculty calculate both seat/synchronous time and out of the seat/asynchronous time in a way that can ensure equivalency between modalities.   

1 Comment

  1. Brian Beatty

    David, this is a timely topic for many us, given the recent changes to the USG definition of an online course and their interpretation of the credit hour in online and hybrid courses.

    On our campus we are working on policy and practice revisions to provide guidelines to faculty around contact time and out-of-class independent time expectations. We’re considering language that sounds more like “community learning” for direct contact time and “independent learning” for “out-of-class” time. Whether the community learning time (involving teacher-student and student-student interaction) occurs in a classroom or takes place asynchronously apart from scheduled class meetings should be irrelevant. Our goal is to encourage an approapriate and flexible balance between community and independent learning opportunities in every course. For some courses, there may be signiciantly more commnity time (like a lab course) and for others there may be more independent learning time (like a seminar with lots of independent preparation (reading) and application (papers)).

    We hope to have agreements among faculty, adminstration and acceditors some time later this AY so we can take the next step in making the credit hour discussion less about seat-time hours and more about achieving learning outcomes. This is a long road to travel for many of us!

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