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HyFlex: It’s About Student Choice

November 2, 2012

I wondered when it was going to happen. There is a new model of course design called Hyflex. It’s basically a combination of hybrid, face-to-face, and online courses.When I first heard of it, I thought it was a new word for an existing idea. But after reading this post from our colleagues at  Lakeland Learning Technologies, I see the difference.

In a traditional course, students attend face-to-face. In a hybrid course, students attend some courses online and some face-to-face, as determined by the instructor. This model is often useful for institutions experiencing rapid growth. If one class meets from 9-10 Monday face to face and the rest of the time online, then the classroom can be used for another class that meets Wednesday from 9-10 and the rest of the time online. It’s twice the bang for the buck from limited classroom resources, which administrators love. Doubling enrollment in courses without having to expend money on physical facilities is a godsend for the administration, because they can accommodate more students, which results in more tuition AND in more favorable funding from the state as much funding is determined by the number of students served. Only one element is missing: Student choice.

A Hyflex course has all the elements of an online course together with all the elements of a face-to-face course. It is up to the students to determine in which format they complete the course requirements. They can complete all elements online, all face-to-face, or any combination of these that they choose. Students these days, and perhaps all students always, are savvy. They know what works for them, and they know how to learn, at least by the time they get to the college level.

That point was driven home to me yesterday when a student visited me in my office.  He was enrolled in an online course, and he hates it. He does not see online interaction as real interaction. For him, real interaction must be face-t0-face. But he really had no choice, as this particular course is no longer offered in person.

Hyflex would be perfect for him. He could attend class in person, while his classmates could attend completely online (as many live outside practical commuting range), face-to-face with him, or a combination of the two.

If we, as community college administrators and professors, truly want to break down barriers to education, why in the world would we NOT do this? Next week I’ll consider that question.

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