Online education has been an option at most institutions for some time now. But, the COVID pandemic forced schools to really examine their remote learning strategies. Most of us have heard terms such as ‘Hybrid Learning’, ‘Remote Learning’, or ‘Blended Learning’. But, Professor Brian Beatty is widely credited with introducing the term “HyFlex” which he writes about in his book, “Hybrid-Flexible Course Design”.
The higher education landscape is evolving and so is the technology. It’s essential that colleges and universities adapt to the expectations of the next generation. To be competitive in the education field you must have the right hardware and software to support many learning options. Let’s review HyFlex learning and tips for setting your students up for success.
What is HyFlex Learning?
HyFlex is the combination of the words “hybrid” and “flexible”. This concept was born out of the desire to extend the reach of higher education to all types of learners in all kinds of locations. The term can be used to describe the physical space such as a classroom or lecture hall that allows for both in-person and remote participation. A HyFlex classroom requires video, audio, and networking technology that allows students to participate from various locations. But more than just the technology, there is a strategy implemented to provide multiple avenues for learning. The idea is to expand educational opportunities to all types of students.
Implementing HyFlex learning requires the participation of schools, faculty, and students. Students have the opportunity to choose when they attend online and when they need face-to-face support. Plus, they can move between the two options as needed. Of course, this learning model requires advanced technology, software, and hardware for remote participation. Good audiovisual equipment is essential to the success of any hybrid or blended education model.
Why offer different learning options?
It’s not just your imagination, more and more students are attending classes online. In fact, research shows that the majority of students participate in remote learning when given the choice. But, a high percentage take a blended approach – incorporating both face-to-face learning as well as online.
The needs of students often change throughout a course and a good program will adapt to their preferences. The goal of education is to have the best possible experiences for students, and HyFlex options can promote even better outcomes. Benefits include higher student retention rates and increased course completion. Not to mention, students participate more and report an increase in their understanding of the material.
What makes HyFlex Learning successful?
Students have a lot of options and big expectations when it comes to higher education. Implementing multiple learning approaches requires strategic planning plus the right tools.
Each classroom or lecture hall is unique, but an ideal HyFlex setup would include:
- Display hardware such as electronic whiteboards or smartboards
- Personal digital devices such as laptops, tablets, or smartphones
For the best student experience, many universities have their lecture halls set up with at least two cameras and a touch panel. This allows the professor to toggle between multiple presets. Smaller rooms even have cameras set up for student “buddies” to support peer-to-peer learning.
Many schools and organizations have attempted remote participation as a backup for emergencies. This can result in a patchwork of different tools that don’t function as one ecosystem and aren’t a long-term approach. The most successful implementations need proper planning and integration of many technologies. Each piece of software needs to communicate with the others. Some examples include:
- Video Conference Software such as Zoom or Teams
- Learning Management Systems (LMS)
- Student Information Systems
Purchasing hardware and software for your classroom is only one piece of the puzzle. Students expect a seamless experience with minimal issues. Therefore, the equipment needs to be properly installed. At High Country we have a proven framework to ensure all AV projects go as planned. The installation process includes:
- In-house product experts (no third-party contractors)
- A dedicated project manager
- Emphasis on timeline and budget
- Clear communication
Training and Support
The best laid out plans and right technology for HyFlex learning is only as good as the people who use and support it. Instructors and students should have confidence in the learning tools available to them. The setup of a HyFlex learning facility should include:
- Comprehensive documentation on your audiovisual systems
- Always-on-call support for any AV technology issues
- 24/7 remote monitoring to allow you to move from reactive to proactive support
- AV-as-a-Service to minimize the pain of maintenance and provide access to continual updates
In addition to technical support, professors should plan ahead for interactions that are both in-person and online. Important strategies for the courses include:
- Provide materials and clear instructions to both remote and in-person participants
- Test and become familiar with the technology in the classroom
- Include all participants (monitor online chats and build in time for online questions)
- Promote student interaction such as online polls, study buddies, and call and response activities
The bottom line is that the audiovisual equipment in a classroom shouldn’t be the focus – the educational material should. Proper planning, training, and support set you up for success.
Ready to bring your HyFlex Learning facility to life?
With a good understanding of remote learning options, and the right technology you can implement a top of the line HyFlex learning plan.
If you’re ready to choose the right audiovisual company, we’d love to hear from you. High Country has experience and expertise that you can trust. Our certified team communicates proactively and all of our work is done in house.
At High Country, we serve corporate, education, and government clients with commercial AV solutions. Our process has been proven in organizations like Alteryx (a NYSE-listed software company), the City of Denver, the United States Airforce, and leading Denver-area school systems.
If you’re ready to learn more about AV solutions for remote learning, schedule a free consultation with our experts. We’ll discuss your vision, then work with you to take the complexity out of AV, minimize issues, and save time.