Benefits and Challenges
- In traditional online, face-to-face, and even hybrid/blended courses, “students with schedule conflicts, travel difficulties, or other legitimate reasons preventing their in-class participation are often left with no option but to miss those learning opportunities, typically with no alternative” (Beatty, 2019). But in a HyFlex course, students have the option to participate through whichever modality best fits their current needs and learning preferences. This includes online, either synchronously or asynchronously, for any given class-meeting when situations arise that would prevent them from attending class otherwise.
- Students also benefit from access to more learning resources as content is made available in multiple formats, in thanks to the multi-modal course design. “Multiple modes of participation often require more robust instructional materials, enabling richer instruction and providing additional opportunities for learning” (Beatty, 2019).
- Instructors benefit from the opportunity to continue to develop their online instructional skills and experience without completely giving up teaching face-to-face.
- Once developed, HyFlex course materials are reusable in subsequent iterations of the course and as additional learning materials across modalities.
- Arguments against mandating attendance are rendered moot because “meaningful and equivalent in-class participation alternatives are “built-in”, continuously ready to support learning, and are clearly explained to all students (Beatty, 2019).
- “A HyFlex course should also ensure that students are equipped with the technological skills needed to access the participation choices” (Miller et al., 2013). All students need equitable access to all course modalities. Digital equity is a concern and any technology to be implemented must take privacy, accessibility, and supportability into account.
- Students will need access to reliable, broadband internet and digital devices and peripherals with the necessary web conferencing software. Lack of support or time for the development of necessary technology skills can be an additional source of stress for students. The technology should not create barriers to student learning.
- Students may not be familiar with the HyFlex model and will likely need additional instruction on how to take appropriate advantage of the flexibility afforded to them as they will be held responsible for completing course activities and other expectations for participation, in their chosen modality.
- Instructors face similar technology challenges when developing and delivering a HyFlex course, which can take up to a year in advance to plan and require a significant investment of time and resources for course development and technology training. Faculty must be comfortable engaging with face-to-face and synchronous online students simultaneously, as well as the technology that makes that possible.
- Recorded lectures, and any other audio and video based course materials must be captioned for accessibility for all students. Resources and staff may be needed to accomplish this through auto-captioning and/or manual captioning.
The biggest benefit of HyFlex instruction is the ability to open classes and campus activities to students who live far away from campus – creating an ability to increase both enrollment and student engagement (Bower et al., 2015).