What does Open AI say about HyFlex course design?

I recently (2/2/23) asked an OpenAI tool (OpenAI GPT-3 Playground https://platform.openai.com/playground ) about HyFlex, looking for its answer to a few of the most common questions we answer. With all the discussion about the use of AI tools to aid the writing process in schools, I think we need to understand this much better (as educators, designers and administrators). These tools are already being used in many ways that most of us do not know about and might not even understand.

So I decided to try this out to see if asking a tool using a powerful AI engine (GPT-3) could provide reasonably accurate answers to a few common questions asked about HyFlex courses. In this post, I provide the AI-generated answers to these questions and my comments about the quality of these answers. Please add your comments below!

Q1: What is a HyFlex course?

Open AI says: 

HyFlex courses are courses that offer flexible learning options to students, allowing them to choose how they participate and engage with learning. Students have the option to attend on-campus, participate online, or a combination of both. The goal is to provide students with the most convenient and beneficial learning experience possible.

Brian’s comments: (****_) 4/5 stars

This is a good basic description of a HyFlex course. When appropriate, I might use this myself!

Q2: What are key principles of HyFlex course design?

Open AI says: 

1.     Flexible access: Give students the ability to access course content and activities through multiple communication channels, such as the web, audio, and video.

2.     Flexible participation: Allow students to participate in the course in a variety of ways and from different locations.

3.     Flexible delivery: Provide students with access to course materials and activities through different formats, such as online, in-person, or a combination of both.

4.     Flexible assessment: Offer students multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning through various assessment methods, such as written exams, projects, presentations, and online activities.

5.     Clear expectations: Make sure that students understand the goals and expectations of the course, and provide them with the resources they need to be successful.

6.     Active learning: Encourage meaningful participation in the course by providing students with opportunities to interact, collaborate, and reflect on their learning.

7.     Technology integration: Utilize technology to enhance student engagement and access to course content and activities.

Brian’s comments: (***_ _) 3/5 stars

The answer here seems to be a mix of what I would call the Four Fundamental Values/Principles of HyFlex design (alternatives/learner choice, equitable learning, reuse, and accessibility) and a few design guidelines I and others have written about: communicating clear expectations, providing flexible ways to show understanding, etc. I think this answer would have to be edited and added to quite a bit to be “acceptable” and useful to a practitioner. For someone just exploring the idea of a HyFlex course, it provides some good starting guidance.

Q3: What are the benefits of HyFlex courses for students and faculty?

Open AI says:

1. Increased flexibility: HyFlex courses offer students the ability to choose the learning environment that works best for them. Students may attend classes in person, participate in virtual classes, or watch recordings of lectures. This allows students to adjust their learning environment to fit their individual needs.

2. Increased engagement: HyFlex courses offer a variety of learning options, which can help to engage students who may be struggling with traditional lecture-style learning. By providing multiple pathways to learning, students can engage more with the material and have a better understanding of the course content.

3. Improved accessibility: HyFlex courses are often available to a wider range of students, including those with disabilities or those who may have difficulty attending traditional classes. In addition, the recordings of lectures and other materials can be accessed anytime, allowing for greater access to the course content.

4. Enhanced instructor feedback: HyFlex courses provide instructors with the opportunity to interact with students in a variety of ways, including virtual office hours, discussion boards, and more. This can help instructors provide more individualized feedback and guidance to their students.

5. Improved student outcomes: By providing more pathways to learning, HyFlex courses can help students achieve better learning outcomes. The increased flexibility and accessibility can help students stay on track and engage more deeply with the course material.

Brian’s comments: (***_ _) 3/5 stars

I think this short list represents some of the main benefits many of us have found to be true when we implemented HyFlex at the course level, especially the 2nd or 3rd time we taught the HyFlex course (learning a lot along the way). The list does not include many of the faculty benefits nor any of the broader benefits at the program or institution level that may be realized when HyFlex is implemented in large portions of a program or institution, such as, increased retention and graduation rates, reduced scheduling conflicts, space savings, and more.  

Q4: How many schools are using HyFlex courses?

Open AI says:

It is difficult to estimate the exact number of schools using HyFlex courses, as the exact figure is not publicly available. However, according to an article by EdSurge, the number of institutions using HyFlex is estimated to be around 100.

Brian’s comments: (*_ _ _ _) 1/5 stars

Here is a recent response I provided to someone asking me this question over email:

Unfortunately, it is impossible for me to say how many schools and universities are using HyFlex. I have worked personally with faculty from hundreds of schools to learn how to teach in the HyFlex format in the past 10-15 years.

Estimates from the higher education reports (based on surveys) completed by organizations such as EDUCAUSE are very high, with the likelihood that over time most institutions will adopt some form of hybrid (and often flexible) learning in some classes. See EDUCAUSE Horizon report, Teaching and Learning edition from 2022 to read more about expectations in higher education institutions: https://library.educause.edu/resources/2022/4/2022-educause-horizon-report-teaching-and-learning-edition   

The sections on Key Technologies and Practices (starting on page 15) and the final section on Implications may be the most useful to you (page 40 and following).

This section includes statements such as these from representative leaders in higher education:

Australia: “Flexible and hybrid models, which were once thought to be too hard to execute, are now commonplace in our education systems.”

Canada: “COVID-19 has forever changed the face of the Canadian postsecondary education system. Offering flexibility in how and when students learn is critical. Canadian universities and colleges must offer multiple learning modalities and different types of credentials to support the varied learners they now have on their campuses.”

Mexico: “The move to mainstream implementation of hybrid and online learning in Mexican universities has the potential to fundamentally change the nature of education in the country.”

US Community Colleges: “It’s time to put the flexibility recommendation in last year’s Horizon Report into action.”

Ebner, M. (2022, Apr 18). 2022 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report | Teaching and Learning Edition. https://library.educause.edu/-/media/files/library/2022/4/2022hrteachinglearning.pdf


  • Brian Beatty

    Dr. Brian Beatty is Professor of Instructional Design and Technology in the Department of Equity, Leadership Studies and Instructional Technologies at San Francisco State University. At SFSU, Dr. Beatty pioneered the development and evaluation of the HyFlex course design model for blended learning environments, implementing a “student-directed-hybrid” approach to better support student learning.

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