Starting a new term is both exciting and nerve-wracking, now with the added challenge of teaching a HyFlex class (or something like it).
Any new beginning brings excitement for the possibilities that lie ahead and anxiety for the unknown. The beginning of a term is no different. It is inspiring to think of a new chance to create engaging content and deliver captivating lessons, but it can also be daunting to meet new people and start from scratch to build rapport.
This term, for me, along comes the challenge of a HyFlex class, in which students (adults) choose to participate either in-person or online synchronously, or even online asynchronously. As an instructor I also get to decide if I want to teach remotely or in the classroom. My personal preference at the moment is to teach remotely, but given that my students are beginner learners (CLB 2-3), I may need to change my preference. I will meet with my students once a week for two hours, and one of the main concerns I have is building a community of learning.
HyFlex is a course design model developed in the early 2000s (2005-2007) by Brian J. Beatty and his colleagues at San Francisco State University and it has been used mainly in colleges and universities (Beatty, 2018). It is a design that supports student-directed learning and gives students agency in making decisions that are best for their learning process. If it is done right, it is a great idea, but if it is poorly applied, it can become an added stress for students and teachers alike. This is my worry, especially as I will design and apply as I go.
In any HyFlex class the challenges an instructor would encounter would be creating engaging materials and activities, students’ motivation and time management skills, technical skills, and technology in general. The added challenge in the context of a language learning class is the language barrier and mixed abilities when it comes to computer skills. Offering effective direct feedback will also be a challenge. Above this, building a inherently human connection will be most difficult. The advantage is that some of the learners already know each other, and I also know some of the students. I foresee that first month will probably be about getting to know each other and establish some routines.
Activities suggested to build a learning community, such as discussion forums, or reflections may be limited in this context, but I will give them a try. A version of Think-Pair-Share for reading tasks while being aware of physical distancing could also work regardless of the delivery mode.
I will keep you posted on my HyFlex teaching adventure, but if you have any ideas or suggestions please drop me a line (while I try to figure out how to implement direct comments on the website). I also included a link to a short survey, asking your opinion if I should teach my first class remotely or in-person.
Beatty, B., Beatty, & Brian J. Beatty (2018) Hybrid-Flexible Course Design. Retrieved August 31, 2020, from https://edtechbooks.org/hyflex