Exploring the HyFlex Modality
Although flexible learning experiences vary by university, the term HyFlex implies a specific approach to the design of learning experiences. As departments work to increase enrollment, completion, and access to their programs, many are looking to flexible course modalities, which offer a viable way to meet more students where they are.
What is it?
What is it?
HyFlex is a responsive approach to course design that is a blending of "hybrid" and "flexible," which gives students the choice of how to attend a course throughout a semester – online (synchronous, asynchronous, or a combination) or face-to-face. How that preference is managed, whether daily, weekly, or topically, depends on the college, department, and course context, as well as classroom and instructional capacity.
Simply put, HyFlex courses have multiple, equitable ways for students to access the same information.
- Online synchronous: students and instructor attend scheduled virtual meetings
- Online asynchronous: no scheduled meetings
- Face-to-face: students and instructor attend in-person meetings at scheduled times and locations
Framing flexible modalities
HyFlex courses are based on four fundamental values:
- Learner choice. Students can choose between meaningful, equitable modalities daily, weekly, or topically.
- Equivalency. All modalities provide activities that lead to equitable student outcomes.
- Reusability. Instructors use and reuse course content and activities between modalities.
- Accessibility. Student materials are designed from the start to provide equitable access for all modalities.
HyFlex is not a technological choice, it is an instructional one. Utilizing HyFlex effectively requires adaptability on the instructor's part. Depending on the type of flexible learning experience that a department and instructor intend to offer, technological requirements will vary, but the need for excellent communication regarding how the option will be managed cannot be understated.
HyFlex should also allow for interactivity between the participants, regardless of modality. Ideally, the course activities are intentionally designed to ensure that a student can feel equally welcome, valued, and supported regardless of modality at any given time.
Why a flexible modality?
Deciding whether a flexible modality is right for your context is about identifying for all stakeholders "why HyFlex" and being clear about "what is expected from using HyFlex". To do that, Beatty (2014) recommends that the university, department, or faculty considering a flexible modality clearly identify their answers to a few key questions.
- What are our goals?
- Opportunity Goals
- Problem-Solution Goals
- Why/how do we think HyFlex will help us to meet these goals?
- What are the potential faculty costs?
- What are the potential costs for or relative to students?
- What are the potential costs relative to technology or instructional support?
- What are the potential administrative challenges?
Great! Many people have been using a version of HyFlex or offering flexible learning experiences since a return to on-campus activities required a mixed approach to instruction. Speak with others who are interested or already running courses in a flexible modality and share your experiences. WMUx offers opportunities to facilitate collaboration if you are interested – our campus community would benefit greatly from shared perspectives. Please reach out to learn more.
One Instructor's Experience
Watch an interview with Dr. Ben Malczyk and WMUx Instructional Designers about his experiences with HyFlex and his 2019 article Introducing Social Work to HyFlex Blended Learning: A Student-centered Approach.
Want to know more?
- Think UDL: HyFlex Course Design Model with Brian Beatty - listen (or read) a conversation on HyFlex, some insights on the modality, and how what we did in the pandemic was different.
- Join Dr. Beatty's online HyFlex Learning Community to connect to people across the globe exploring the modality's use. There are periodic webinars and an active community discussion board to explore.