For instructors who have been reluctant to try Hyflex teaching, sometimes taking “baby steps” and simply seeing a real-life example from an actual class can be the key to trying something new in one’s teaching. Perhaps, after taking a peek at how a standard discussion-based in-person class meeting can be converted into an asynchronous assignment, Hyflex teaching can be demystified just a little bit. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just need to create an option for students unable to attend in person.
Below is an assignment I have selected from a random week in my lower-division course American Democracy. Let me be clear, there is nothing ground-breaking or particularly innovative about the assignment you’re about to see. And that my friends, is precisely the point. Remember, a Hyflex assignment is any assignment that provides options for your students – that’s all.
The assignment below allows students to either attend the regular in person class meeting on campus OR to complete asynchronous work that would require additional research, sharing ideas with peers in an online discussion forum, and responses to peers who have shared. This is designed with a goal of having students engage in a similar discussion they might have had in person but asynchronous students have the benefit of more time to contemplate their peers’ questions and to do some additional research on their topic of interest prior to responding to each other.
The two assignments will never be exactly the same and they don’t have to be because an in-person discussion is not the same as an online one. But what is lost in experiential equivalency, can be gained in unique benefits that emerge in the alternate format. While in person discussions require thinking quickly on your feet as the discussion unfolds in real-time jumping from person to person as the thoughts transpire, the online asynchronous discussion provides students with opportunities for slower, but potentially more thoughtful exchanges since it gives them more time to process questions and responses prior to posting a reply to a peer.
Take a look at the example below:
[START OF SAMPLE]
Assignment 10.0 – Class #10 – Live Session/Online Option [IN]
WHAT – Through a set of video lectures, students learned about the judicial branch and the court system in the U.S. After listening to Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement speech at the White House from Jan. 27, 2022 and reading the TIME magazine article about different proposals to expand the Supreme Court beyond 9 justices, students will discuss some of the pros/cons of each proposal with their peers.
WHY – Students should weigh whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court should also be treated as a “great experiment” that should evolve over time as the needs of the nation change.
This activity allows you choose to attend the live session – Location of Classroom
on Specified Day and Time
where we will discuss student generated questions posted to Canvas
Complete the following online assignment (in lieu of in-person class attendance):
- Revisit the Prologue and Chapter 5 in “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know” and your responses to the previous set of assigned video lectures, speeches and articles.
- Conduct independent research online learning more about the question you originally posed to your peers (the issue regarding this week’s topic in American democracy that you are rethinking or would like others to rethink). Write out your question in the discussion board below for your peers to read. Then, respond in at least 25 sentences and include all appropriate citations/links to all sources at the end (sources do not count as a sentence) addressing your question. Post your response by Specified Time on Specified Day of Week.
- Return to the discussion before Specified Time on Specified Day of Week and post a reply to at least one other student in the class (whose post has not already been addressed). Provide thoughtful commentary/critique, pose new questions, and/or articulate a relevant connection that you see with American government, politics, and democracy. Respond to your peer’s question in at least 5 sentences or in a 1-2 minute video. In the rare event that no other student posted a response by Specified Time on Specified Day of Week you do not have to submit a reply.
To participate in the discussion in written form (initial response and peer responses), click ‘Reply’ below, and once you have typed your response, click ‘Post Reply’ to submit, and do the same for replies to your peers.
[END OF SAMPLE]
Notice that this assignment does not provide a zoom option for students who cannot attend. Not all Hyflex courses require you to teach live students and Zoom students at the same time and you can also have some class meetings where a simultaneous live Zoom option would meet your needs as the instructor for a particular lesson.
The key to remember is that a highly flexible course design includes us as instructors too. We as instructors can create what works best for our specific content while still providing practical options (which won’t always include a live Zoom option) for students who cannot attend in person.
With this example in mind, I encourage you to try converting one of your existing in-class assignments into an asynchronous one. Once you have an asynchronous assignment in place, you can offer your first Hyflex assignment in your course. And with that first “baby step” you might just discover that Hyflex isn’t as difficult as you thought and before you know it, your course will be on its way to becoming highly flexible, one assignment at a time. Remember, it’s not a one size fits all kind of design. Just keep it simple and make it your own.