This article has been divided in two parts. Part 1 explains what HyFlex is and which are the key points to consider before using it. Part 2 presents a wide range of teaching activities that can be used in a HyFlex classroom.
What is HyFlex and when should it be used?
HyFlex is a concept and a model of educational delivery, supported by digital technology, which allows the combination of face-to-face and online learning. HyFlex allows students to flexibly attend a teaching session (delivered on-campus) from their home, which is convenient if they are temporarily unable to come on-campus (e.g., they tested positive for COVID-19, therefore they must stay at home, but they are asymptomatic and willing to attend the session); and to accommodate those who might find it difficult to come on-campus on a certain day (due to health or personal circumstances). Using HyFlex is encouraged to ensure that students unable to attend in person receive the equivalent experience of those who are on-campus. Moreover, HyFlex helps to integrate online and digital teaching in the classroom, enriching the learning experience.
From a lecturer perspective, any teaching activity can be delivered with HyFlex. However, this does not mean that all teaching sessions should be delivered with HyFlex. As we will highlight in this blog post, it is important to plan teaching activities ahead and adapt these to the HyFlex environment. Considering that the main aim of the HyFlex model is making students feel connected with each other and able to participate in a discussion equally, regardless of whether they are attending in person or online, we anticipate that HyFlex works very well when used for interactive sessions, such as Q&As, journal clubs or seminars, and less effectively for didactic lectures and unidirectional presentations (which can be easily carried out on Microsoft Teams ).
What should lecturers consider before using HyFlex?
- Using HyFlex smoothly and with confidence will take time and practice. Using HyFlex implies dividing attention between what is happening in the class and online, and the technology requires some basic IT and Teams skills.
- Preparation and planning are key. It is important to have any teaching materials (software, video, slides, etc) ready ahead of the session start time, and to plan how it will be shared with students (internet browser tab, embedded in PowerPoint, directly through Teams, etc). We suggest practicing in the room where teaching will take place, since different rooms at the IoPPN (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience) have different setups. It is important to think about where to stand when presenting and make sure the image and voice is well captured by the camera, but also make sure to be in a good position to interact with the students in the room.
- Ask for support. When planning a session, Teaching Fellows, CTEL (Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning) , or colleagues who have already used HyFlex will be able to provide tips and guidance. Audio-Visual (AV) technicians can support in setting up the equipment before the session (please, allow at least 30 minutes for this). Moreover, a colleague, teaching assistant/fellow or student might be helpful in supporting you during the session, so that you can navigate the room more efficiently.
- Remind students (and yourself) that HyFlex teaching sessions are different from ‘traditional’ sessions. If students in class have their own laptops, consider whether they should sign into Teams or not (if yes, they need to keep their mics muted). It is recommended that students pin the main classroom camera on Teams. As a rule of thumb, we suggest scheduling 2/3 different activities per each 50-min session (don’t forget to schedule a break!).
Written by Dr Alessio Bellato & Dr Zoë Gallant
Alessio is a Teaching Fellow at King’s College London and a post-doctoral researcher interested in ADHD, attention and autonomic arousal. He has previously worked as a clinical psychologist in private and public health services, and in educational settings with toddlers, children and young adults.
Zoë is a lecturer in Psychology at UCL, while being affiliated with the School of Neuroscience at King’s College London. Her research is in the cognitive neuroscience of ageing, particularly focusing on the role of the cerebellum in cognition. Previously, she has worked for the NHS, at various higher education institutions and for an educational charity.