Community learning is not just for students

COVID, COVID, COVID! I was at Tulane when Hurricane Katrina hit. I remember move-in day. We were sending the students home quickly after move-in. We did not know at that time how long the storm disruption would be.  Out of it, many of our institutions adopted delivery strategies that prepared us for COVID-19. Post-COVID, you hear a lot about self-care. There is a growing recognition of the importance of faculty learning communities in promoting resilience, innovation, and professional growth. In fact, that was a motivation behind starting the HyFlex Learning Community. Faculty-initiated professional development activities tend to be more effective and face less opposition for several reasons. One reason is that faculty have greater ownership and buy-in when they are involved in designing and leading the professional development initiative. In HyFlex learning, faculty learning communities can provide a vital support system. For those in academia who have a summer break, summer presents an ideal opportunity to recharge and lay the groundwork for forming or revitalizing peer communities for the coming academic year.

Benefits of Institution-based Faculty Learning Communities

Professional Support:

These communities provide a supportive space for faculty to share resources, discuss pedagogical approaches, and collaborate on projects. These activities foster a sense of collegiality and mutual understanding. HyFlex faculty can pool their collective knowledge and experiences in HyFlex teaching, providing a fertile ground for the exchange of best practices, tips, and strategies. A learning community can provide opportunities for hands-on technology training, troubleshooting, and shared learning.

Continuous Learning:

By engaging in regular discussions, workshops, and activities, faculty members can continually enhance their teaching practices, explore new technologies, and stay abreast of the latest developments in their respective fields. For example, Sessions dedicated to demonstrating and providing hands-on training for various HyFlex technologies, such as video conferencing tools, learning management systems, and multimedia authoring software.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration:

Learning communities that bring together educators from diverse disciplines can spark cross-pollination of ideas, leading to innovative teaching methods and interdisciplinary curricular initiatives.

Mentorship Opportunities:

Communities offer a platform for experienced faculty to mentor and guide early-career educators, facilitating the transfer of knowledge and best practices.

Peer Support:

Designing and teaching HyFlex courses can be isolating. An institutional learning community offer a supportive community where educators can seek advice, troubleshoot challenges, and applaud successes together. Ensuring that all students, regardless of their attendance mode, feel equally engaged and supported is a common challenge for HyFlex faculty. This is an example of how a learning community can facilitate discussions on strategies for fostering an inclusive learning environment.


High-quality instructional materials for HyFlex environments can be time-consuming to create. Developing resources collaboratively reduces duplication of effort and promotes consistency across courses and programs. Creating a shared repository to house instructional artifacts supports the HyFlex principle of reuse.

Challenges and Solutions

Time Constraints:

Finding dedicated time amidst teaching, research, and service commitments can be difficult. Scheduling regular meetings during common free periods or utilizing online platforms can help mitigate this challenge.

Divergent Interests:

Ensuring that community activities cater to the diverse interests and needs of all members is crucial. Incorporating a range of topics and formats, such as workshops, book discussions, and peer observations, can help address this concern.

Sustaining Engagement:

Maintaining long-term engagement can be challenging. Rotating leadership roles, introducing new activities, and celebrating successes can help reinvigorate interest and participation.

Activity Ideas to Foster Community Building

Resource-Sharing Parties:

Organize events where faculty members can share their favorite teaching resources, such as course materials, assessment tools, or technology tips. These events can be facilitated online or in person.

Collaborative Resource Creation:

Encourage faculty to collaborate on developing instructional resources, such as open educational resources (OERs), multimedia content, or case studies, fostering a culture of shared ownership and peer learning.

Grading Calibration Sessions:

Host sessions where faculty members can discuss grading rubrics, compare graded assignments, and achieve greater consistency in evaluation practices, promoting fairness and alignment with learning outcomes.

Teaching Observations:

Implement a peer observation program where faculty members observe each other’s classes and provide constructive feedback, promoting reflection on teaching practices and continuous improvement.

Book Clubs:

Organize book clubs focused on pedagogical literature, educational technology, or discipline-specific topics, facilitating deep discussions and intellectual growth.

Professional Development Workshops:

Offer workshops on topics such as inclusive teaching practices, assessment strategies, or the integration of digital tools, allowing faculty to enhance their skills and stay current with educational trends.

Faculty learning communities not only benefit the educators involved but also have far-reaching impacts on students, staff, and institutions. By fostering a culture of collaboration, continuous learning, and innovation, these communities contribute to improved student learning outcomes, increased job satisfaction among faculty and staff, and the overall advancement of the institution’s educational mission. As we look ahead to the Fall semester, let us embrace the opportunity to revitalize our faculty learning communities, prioritize self-care, and foster an environment that champions growth, resilience, and pedagogical excellence.

Below is a partial list of HyFlex learning communities. If you know of a HyFlex Learning Community, please comment and we will add it to the list.

Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia
Center for Teaching & Learning
HyFlex Learning Community  

Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
Office for Teaching & Learning
Teaching Circles: HyFlex


  • Jeanne Samuel

    Recently retired from the LCTCS. Served as the Dean of Global Online at Fletcher TCC and Dean of DLIT at Delgado CC. Is a HyFlex Learning Community Advisor and a freelance ID.

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