It is important to make deliberate plans in order to prepare for teaching in a HyFlex environment. New technologies and techniques may be involved, activities will need to be adapted, and interactions will need to be carefully considered before entering the classroom.
Zoom: First, make sure that you are familiar with Zoom. Be comfortable with the options and buttons in Zoom that allow you to spotlight videos, share screens, enable non-verbal reactions, mute participants, and manage the chat and annotations. If you need training or assistance with Zoom, consider watching one of UFIT's recorded trainings or reaching out to the Center for Instructional Technology and Training (CITT) for assistance.
Plan: As you begin planning activities and classes for the semester, be sure that they are HyFlex compatible. In other words, they should be planned to accommodate remote and in-person learners.
Etiquette: Establish video and classroom etiquette guidelines that will help to ensure smooth delivery of instructional material and classroom interaction. A set of ground rules can lessen miscommunication and confusion as the semester progresses.
Prepare: Arrive early to your classroom to make sure that you have adequate time to log in, prepare your materials, and test the equipment before class begins. Consider holding a test-run in the days before classes begin to ensure that you feel comfortable with the technology and equipment in the classroom.
Office Hours: Finally, make sure to set up your office hours in a way that will accommodate the students who choose to take the course remotely. The simplest approach to this is holding office hours over Zoom. An in-depth explanation can be found on e-Learning's Zoom resource page.
Managing Multi-Modal Environments
In a HyFlex class you will be interacting with students who are in-person and online at the same time. In order to accommodate students accessing your class through these different means, you may need to make adjustments to how you typically teach a purely face-to-face course.
Microphones and masking
A lapel or earpiece microphone is recommended for best audio quality when lecturing with a mask. Microphones mounted to your body or head will ensure consistent audio volume for all your learners when walking or switching between whiteboards and the computer. Remember that, while wearing a mask, students will not be able to read your lips or your facial expressions to gain more understanding of your words or context. For example, sarcasm often relies on students being able to see you smiling, and jokes might be misinterpreted while wearing a mask that covers your mouth. If you use the Office365 version of PowerPoint (available through portal.office.com on classroom computers), consider turning on live subtitles to provide additional context to those who knowingly or unknowingly depend on lip-reading. Be deliberate in your delivery and invite questions often.
Whiteboards and handwriting
When using the whiteboard in your HyFlex Classroom, be sure to check the video monitors frequently to see if you need to adjust the camera view for your remote learners or if there are comments in chat that need to be addressed. It can be helpful to have a student volunteer or TA prompt you if they see any chat messages that need to be addressed.
Your HyFlex classroom may be equipped with a document camera that can be used to project handwritten notes for your in-person students. Once the document camera is projecting, you can then use the screen-sharing function in Zoom to share your writing with your remote students. You will likely need to write larger than you usually do to make the view of the document camera legible for remote students.
The HyFlex classroom has an adjustable touchscreen monitor and stylus. Consider using Zoom's annotation tools or a virtual whiteboard platform like Microsoft Whiteboard or Google Jamboard to write and project your lecture to in-person and remote learners simultaneously. In-person students would see the projection of your screen, and Zoom's screen-sharing function would be used to share the whiteboard with remote learners.
Cloud file sharing and presentations
Consider typing notes and discussion topics in a shared document during class, or combining presentation tools like PowerPoint with typed notes or handwritten annotations. Some activities, such as collecting input from students during group discussions, could simply be typed into a shared document that all students can view through screen sharing or directly shared for viewing or editing using cloud-based collaboration tools.
Recruit help from a TA or student volunteer
Keeping track of and engaging with questions or comments from remote learners can be challenging for one person to do while also working with face-to-face students. Consider asking a TA or student volunteer to monitor the chat and non-verbal communication channels that your remote learners may use to ask questions or provide feedback. That person can then raise their hand in-person or interject on behalf of the remote learners. Make sure remote learners know who will be doing this so they can reach out if their question goes unanswered. Assistants can also help in sharing recorded lectures, assignments, writings, and other files with the class.
Student Interactions in a HyFlex Class
Making remote students feel included and engaged alongside your in-person students would be challenging without preparation and planning. Consider some of the following tips and activities for making remote students feel like they belong as much as the in-person students, and visa-versa.
Best practices for interactions
Engaging both in-person and online audiences: To assure that students both in the classroom and online are being attended to, think about the experience both sets of students are having. Remote students may not be able to hear the conversations held in the room or questions being asked from in-person students, and in-person students may not be monitoring the Zoom chat. Repeating questions and comments from both the remote and in-person audiences will help bridge the distance between the two groups. This can also allow for remote students to better gauge classroom activity.
Polling: Using interactive polling is an effective way to receive real-time student feedback and encourage engagement. Zoom polls can be used to create single and multiple choice questions and can be created prior to or during your meeting. The feedback gathered from the polls can be downloaded as a report after the meeting concludes. Additional classroom response tools, such as Poll Everywhere or Kahoot, can also be utilized to boost interaction. Regardless of which polling tool you use, remind students who show up in person to bring a charged device so they can participate
Group work and discussions
Small group discussions: Group interactions among students are key to classroom engagement and successful integration of material. Navigating this powerful practice in a HyFlex environment may seem daunting but can be done efficiently with the use of technology. One approach to small group discussions involves pairing one in-person student with a group of remote students using Zoom Breakout Rooms, which can be accessed via laptops, smartphones, and tablets. This will help maintain social distancing in the classroom while granting students time to hold meaningful conversations with their peers. To help make this process as efficient as possible, it is recommended that instructors ask students to use headphones so as not to disturb neighboring groups.
Fishbowl discussions: Another technique that can easily be adapted to HyFlex environments are fishbowl discussions. This approach to classroom interaction involves a discussion among a designated group of students, known as the inner circle, being observed by the remainder of the class (the outer circle). In this setting, the students in the classroom can listen in to a discussion held over Zoom by the remote students while maintaining social distancing in the classroom. To ensure that all students are participating, either repeat the activity regularly with a different inner circle or facilitate a short outer-circle response time at the end of the fishbowl.
Student presentations and peer-teaching
Student presentations: The HyFlex model offers a flexible way for students to approach in-class presentations. Students attending remotely can use Zoom to conduct their presentations and displayed on the projector in-class. If a student is presenting in the classroom, then be sure to provide them with a sanitized microphone and presentation space. Think-pair-share: Zoom Breakout rooms can be used to mediate meaningful pair or group discussions which can, in turn, be used for peer-teaching. The think-pair-share approach to group discussions involves a period of time for students to reflect on a prompt or topic, a subsequent pair or small-group discussion, and a final sharing of their discussion to the rest of the class.
In addition to the above activities, the Engaging Zoom Classes website has a variety of further activities that can be adapted to your HyFlex class.
The assessments that you might be using in face-to-face classes might need to be adjusted for a Hybrid-Flexible environment. Here are some suggestions for how you might measure students' progress towards your course's learning objectives:
Frequent low-stakes assessments: Incorporating frequent low-stakes assessments in your class might allow you to track students' understanding better than having fewer high-stakes exams. Frequent checks on understanding are especially important in a HyFlex class because remote students may not feel as if they have as many opportunities to ask questions, and the lack of body language makes it harder to intuitively gauge their understanding of a topic.
Authentic assessments as alternatives to exams: Authentic assessments are assignments that require students to answer essential questions in their subject area and use those concepts as professionals in the field would. Examples include having future teachers develop lesson plans, asking statistics students to analyze real-world datasets and draw conclusions, or STEM student writing research papers or lab reports. The goal of authentic assessments is for students to develop meaningful and applicable skills and to emphasize the knowledge of the “how” as well as the “what.”
Canvas quizzing: In-person paper quizzes may need to be replaced in part or entirely with quizzes administered in Canvas. As an analogue to having multiple versions of a quiz, consider building Canvas quizzes with question banks so that students are not presented with the same questions.
Simultaneous open-book exams: Open-book exams can reduce the pressure that comes with timed exams as well as provide flexibility for technical challenges that often occur in timed and remote settings. Creating open-book or open-resource assessments can be less time-consuming to develop. Because students will have access to all of the materials you have provided, these tests may more rigorous than a traditional exam and allow students to explore ideas in addition to or instead of simply recalling facts.
Remote proctoring services:Online proctoring allows students to take assessments at a remote location while maintaining the academic integrity of the exam. These services require students to confirm their identity before testing, and during the exam the service will monitor students through video to ensure that the testing is secure and the integrity of the assessment is maintained.
The goal of a HyFlex model is to provide successful learning opportunities for all students no matter where they are or which learning mode (face-to-face, asynchronous, synchronous) they have chosen.
Participation: Students may not be able to participate meaningfully in one or more of the HyFlex modes. For example, they may not be physically able to attend class, or they may not have reliable internet access. Students should be provided resources and guidance to chose the best learning mode for them. This will ensure that flexible participation is a real option for all students.
Course materials and activities: All course materials, communications, and activities must be accessible to and usable for all students. For example, audio or video recordings should include text transcripts or be closed-captioned, web pages and learning management systems must be compatible with screen readers, and online learning tools must be navigable with a keypad alone. Think about potential barriers students may face when participating in activities and have plans for how to modify them as needed. It is essential for instructors with an online component to their course become familiar with basic digital accessibility practices. Consider signing up for a self-paced training on accessibility fundamentals.
Accommodations: Some students may require accommodations to tests or other aspects of their learning experience because of a documented disability. If you have any students who require accommodations in your class, you are encouraged to work with the Disability Resource Center and discuss their accommodations with each student to ensure that everyone has equitable access to your course.
A variety of support teams throughout campus are available for consultations, guidance, and more: