Meta-Analysis of HyFlex Education Strategies Long-term Impact (Part 1)

What is HyFlex?

If you are reading this post on the HyFlex Learning Community (HLC) website, you probably already know that HyFlex education strategies, the combining of online and onsite learning modalities, continue to gain attention. HyFlex is a strategy or framework that is not limited to classroom technology. When I consider HyFlex, I think pedagogical design and delivery plus the necessary technology to implement it in an equitable way across offered student participation modes. Remember that a pillar of HyFlex is that the learners may choose how they participate. The reuse aspect of HyFlex can promote a unified learning environment across the learning modes. Reuse can reduce the instructor workload for development and or for grading.  Accessibility may be the ability for the learner to access the learning content by having access to the required equipment and the possessing the skills to use it. Or, in terms of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), the learners can successfully complete the lessons. In other words, the technology supports HyFlex, not defines it. 

What Research Says

Out of curiosity recently, I asked Google Bard to complete a meta-analysis of HyFlex research using the following keywords: HyFlex, blended learning, hybrid learning, synchronous online learning, and active learning. My interest was to investigate the effectiveness of HyFlex education strategies in any subject area, educational level, regarding its impact on academic performance, student engagement, and satisfaction. Bard searched the following databases: ERIC, Web of Science, JSTOR, Google Scholar, and Directory of Open Access Journals. I requested data from between 2010 and 2023 be included. Studies focusing solely on online learning, asynchronous learning, or non-empirical research were excluded. Bard conducted an initial screening of identified studies through titles and abstracts followed by a full-text review of eligible studies against inclusion/exclusion criteria. Bard presented a final selection of 20 studies meeting all criteria. In general, the research yielded mixed results from the diverse HyFlex implementations. To sum it up, Bard said, “Our analysis reveals promising yet nuanced effects of HyFlex. While its influence on academic performance remains multifaceted”. HyFlex consistently fosters higher student engagement and satisfaction compared to traditional or purely online learning environments. Further investigation uncovered moderating factors influencing HyFlex efficacy, such as subject area, educational level, and specific implementation strategies. 

Delivery Mode Options Chronology

Early HyFlex (2010-2015) relied on basic options like lecture videorecording for online access. Colleges, with smaller class sizes, adopted it readily for individual student needs, while universities often experimented in large lectures. 

Due to interactive technology advances, Pre-Pandemic (2016-2020) HyFlex saw the growth of two-way communication between online and in-person students. Universities scaled up HyFlex for broader offerings, while colleges used it for niche programs or accessibility purposes. 

The COVID-19 pandemic (2021-2023) forced mass HyFlex adoption, leading to sophisticated models like simulcasting, flipped classrooms, and hybrid HyFlex. These are classifications used in specific research and not used universally. 

• Simulcasting is live streaming lectures with real-time online interaction.

• Flipped classroom: Employs pre-recorded online lectures and onsite sessions focused on discussion and activities.

• Hybrid HyFlex combines synchronous and asynchronous elements. 

General findings of HyFlex education strategies according to Bard

Mixed effects on academic performance. HyFlex produced positive effect, negative, and no significant effect when compared to traditional or online learning. HyFlex appears to promote student engagement and satisfaction more consistently than academic performance. Moderating factors of HyFlex effectiveness identified by Bard include subject area, educational level, and implementation. 

• Subject area: HyFlex may be more beneficial in STEM subjects and less effective in humanities.

• Educational level: Early evidence suggests higher effectiveness at the university level compared to K-12.

• Implementation: Effective HyFlex models often involve strong instructional design, clear communication, and active learning activities.

Future posts will include more information for the subject area, education level, implementations, and the role of student engagement and satisfaction. There is the caveat that any findings reported by an AI tool like Bard must be verified and validated with further human analysis, so be cautious in using the results of this preliminary analysis.

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