The ongoing pandemic combined with global warming-related natural disasters has introduced a measure of uncertainty into how to best build courses to ensure instructional continuity. The HyFlex model of course delivery can reduce this uncertainty by structuring courses for in-person delivery when circumstances allow while also supporting fully online delivery- synchronously, asynchronously or both. The pandemic has also introduced more students to the flexibility offered by online learning and an expectation for this option. While HyFlex teaching is designed to offer students flexibility in how they attend classes on a class-by-class basis, it can also support teaching and learning when attending in person is not safe, either on an individual or community-wide basis.
While a valuable instructional continuity option, large-scale implementation of HyFlex delivery can require significant investment in technology and time. If faculty, programs, colleges, or institutions are not yet ready to commit to wide-scale adoption of the HyFlex model, courses can be structured so that a foundation is in place should HyFlex or online delivery be necessary or desired by students. The lessons learned through the pandemic and the scaffolding that has been put in place to support online learning can be transferred to supporting flexible attendance models moving forward and take some of the burden out of quick pivots to online learning if they are needed.
Kathryn Russell, my colleague and instructional designer at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN has the following recommendations to support a ‘quick pivot’.
- Record lectures or topical lessons in short segments and create a digital library of content that you can use to replace/supplement online lectures. Use playlists to help keep your video chunks short yet organized.
- If lessons are already recorded, you can quickly add interactive elements to support engagement.
- Implement collaborative note taking in all classes, even if in-person.
- Use collaboration and engagement tools such as Padlet, Mural, Mentimeter, or Nearpod for in-person courses so the structure is already in place. Many engagement tools can be used live both with students on their devices in the classroom and those participating remotely, or, can be used as an asynchronous online activity for all.
My strongest recommendation is to start by building a robust course site in the LMS with the scaffolding in place to add online elements. Kathryn’s biggest piece of advice would be to use and practice with technology in your classroom now, so it’s an easier option when you need to pivot.