In the video above, you’ll hear from Sharley Kurtz and Daniel Erichsen about HyFlex and how it will operate at NDSU this fall semester. This blog post is going to highlight some of the main discussion points brought up in the video. More information can be found by checking out Part 2 and Part 3 of the HyFlex training offered through the Learning and Applied Innovation Center.
What Is HyFlex?
The big question is, what is high flex? A HyFlex course is built to give students and instructors their choice to attend either in person or remotely; it’s really about that flexibility. Each course will still have a physical presence and also an online synchronous one, depending on how you’re going to set up your course.
You could be in the classroom, along with your in-class students or your remote students, or you yourself could be teaching remotely and your students will be in the classroom and/or remote.
A big thing to consider and to keep in mind is that learning objectives for the course stay the same, regardless of who is teaching/learning in the classroom and who is teaching/learning online.
Just to be clear, HyFlex really is not a magical software that everybody’s going to get; it’s really just a new way of thinking about teaching. And again, it’s really about just being flexible
In preparing to teach this fall it is important to consider your syllabi in this HyFlex model. The good news is, you don’t need to completely redo your syllabus. You could still use the syllabus that you’ve always used, you might just need to tweak it a little bit.
You might have to update your syllabus to reflect the HyFlex or COVID-19 changes. Some things to ask yourself include:
- How am I going to teach? In the classroom? Remotely?
- What equipment will students need? A camera? A headset?
Remember, the flexible nature of the HyFlex model means a student may come to class one week, and learn remotely the next. Keeping these considerations in mind is important when thinking about what needs to go in to updating your syllabus.
Take time to consider how you will be conducting office hours, and be sure this is clearly communicated to your students, both in the syllabus and in class.
What Will Teaching Look Like?
There’s going to be three ways that you may teach this semester. The first one is where you’re face-to-face in the classroom. You’ve decided to come in and teach, and maybe your classroom is big enough to support all of your students.
Even if all of your students are there, regularly recording lectures for asynchronous (or viewing at a time outside of a scheduled class periods) use is something to consider. It doesn’t mean that you need to make those lectures available to students, but would be wise to be prepared in the event your teaching switches to the second method of teaching.
The second way of teaching this semester would be going into the classroom as above, but adding a synchronous video attendance component. This means you’re still teaching in the class, but you have students that are in the classroom with you and students joining class online. To do this you’ll be using a video conferencing software, which could either be Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams.
You’ll need to think ahead to the kind of software you’re going to use and also consider who’s going to start the equipment in the classroom…
The last kind of mode of teaching is where you’re not physically in the classroom, and your students are either in the physical classroom and/or online. This one takes a little more planning because there are several variables at play, and you won’t have access to the technology in the classroom if there are any difficulties.
You’ll need to think ahead to the kind of software you’re going to use and also consider who’s going to start the equipment in the classroom; somebody will need to walk up the podium, login to whatever video conferencing tool you’re using, and launch the class for you.
If you’re doing group work, you’ll need that person to mute the mics and turn them back on during class, and you’ll also need help making sure everything is shut down in the classroom at the end of the class. Here you can view brief videos further discussing teaching remotely using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom. Learn more about the HyFlex classroom technology that is installed in most classes on campus.
There is another presentation that goes into more depth about classroom hardware here, but here is some basic information about hardware in the classrooms.
The three pieces that you’ll see that will hopefully allow you to do all these different types of instruction are additional microphones, cameras, and a smart podium.
So, in addition to the lapel microphone that’s already in the classroom, which allows you to project your voice in the room and record your audio, you’re also going to see ceiling microphones, to capture the students’ audio. Should you teach remotely, you should be able to hear everything that’s going on if they ask questions or discuss content, and any remote students will be able to hear, as well.
In addition to the microphones, there will be two cameras in most classrooms. There might be some slight changes depending on which classroom you’re in, but most of them will have a front camera and a back facing camera. One camera is intended to capture the front of the room where the instructor is and the other is intended to capture the students in the classroom. This will be most useful in the cases where you’re teaching remotely, so you will be able to see everything that’s going on in the classroom.
The Smart Podium is going to replace the current computer monitor with a smart display. This smart display will give you additional ability to annotate over content, use a digital whiteboard to draw a graph, as well as use a stylus to control the computer on the screen. These three additional pieces will hopefully allow you to do all these things that have been discussed with regards to teaching to remote students or teaching remotely to your students in the room.
Another point of note regarding hardware, is that there have been audio tests conducted with lecturers wearing masks. Here is a video going over the basics of the smart display.
Other Teaching Considerations
Another thing to consider is how you will conduct group work in your course. A small class where you have smaller groups may look different than a big class of four or five hundred students. Take some time to think about what group work will look like in your course.
Another point of consideration is assessments. In the HyFlex model, you’re going to have students electing to come in and out of your class, either in class or remotely, so your assessments, need to account for that. One option is to move all assessments online to Blackboard. Part 3 will explore this more.
Tracking attendance is another thing to consider. Part 2 of this series goes into further details on attendance tracking.
About the Authors:
Daniel Erichsen is an interactive technology consultation with North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) Learning and Applied Innovation Center. Erichsen manages the interactive technology services at NDSU and advises faculty, staff, and students in the use of interactive technologies. He has 10 years of experience working in Information Technology and 15 years of experience working in Higher Education. Erichsen holds an M.S. degree in international business economics from Aalborg University in Aalborg, Denmark and a B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
Sharley Kurtz is the assistant manager of NDSU’s Learning and Applied Innovation Center. Kurtz holds a Master of Science degree in instructional design and technology and a Bachelor of Science degree in athletic training from the University of North Dakota. Kurtz has 12 years of experience in instructional design and higher education. Currently, she supervises the LAI Center staff and operations, facilitates processes and solutions and provides technical support. Prior to her arrival at NDSU in 2018, Kurtz worked as an instructional designer at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and the University of North Dakota. Her passion is assisting instructors in designing instruction and integrating technology into their courses to enhance student learning.
Amy Tichy is pursuing her M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at NDSU. She graduated with a Master of Arts in Theatre with a concentration in Drama Therapy from Kansas State University (2014), where she was a Graduate Teaching Assistant, lecturing 6 credits of Public Speaking per semester, and with a Bachelor of Science in History Education and Theatre Education from Dickinson State University (2010). Amy is a licensed teacher and a Registered Drama Therapist. She works in the Office of Teaching and Learning as a Graduate Assistant.