In this episode, Phil Hill, Jeanette Wiseman, and Kevin Kelly discuss some of the practical issues faced by students, instructors, and institutions when implementing HyFlex models.
- Phil Hill
- Jeanette Wiseman
- Kevin Kelly
Phil: Hi, I’m Phil Hill. And welcome to COVID Transitions. This week, we have a special episode that’s focused on the growing interest in hybrid formats for fall 2020. And specifically with the HyFlex model that’s being discussed at many campuses. We wanted to take some time to address some reader questions and in particular, look at the practical implications of preparing students as well as faculty and course designers for these new methods. Jeanette Wiseman and Kevin Kelly had an opportunity to talk about these details. We hope you enjoyed this episode.
Jeanette: Hey, Kevin.
Kevin: Hey, how are you today?
Jeanette: Okay. I feel like we need to have a little theme music playing at this point, since Phil’s not here to do it.
Kevin: Well and his voice is so resonating, so we’ll have to do our best.
Jeanette: How has your week gone?
Kevin: It has been a little bit nutty. He had two online events for over a hundred people, and my niece was supposed to graduate on Tuesday. When I sent her a text saying I was thinking about her, and I know it was supposed to be her big day, and we’ll figure out a way to celebrate your achievement. She said, Thanks, Uncle Kevin. It means a lot. Praying that COVID clears up by my college graduation.
Jeanette: Now, my godson graduated from the Naval Academy last week, and we were really looking forward to helping him celebrate that. So not being able to do that was disappointing for sure. So what were your webinars about this week, Kevin?
Kevin: One was with the group, I’m on the board, the Association of Authentic, Experiential and Evidence Based Learning paired up with e-Portfolios Australia.
Jeanette: Well, sounds like you were busy. Also had some blog posts and some really good comments and questions on this blog post this week.
Kevin: Yeah. And I think one of the most interesting questions stemmed from the blog post about HyFlex course design, and the person said, hey, our campus is considering HyFlex, and you have a very compelling bullet point about preparing students. But what does that look like? What should we be doing to prepare students for success in the HyFlex environment? And that to me said, OK, well, I guess we’ve got to put some more out there.
Jeanette: Yeah, absolutely. We can.
Kevin: Something we can discuss today.
Jeanette: I think so I think there’s a lot of people really curious about not only how did they do the HyFlex or the hybrid classes and planning for fall, but what EdTech students need to know. And what did they need to do to be prepared coming into really different learning environment? So do you have any pointers for instructors and schools looking to try to make sure that their students are ready for something that’s gonna be different?
Kevin: I do. I do. And I also have pointers for students themselves. I know we have an active listening group of students who love this podcast and it’s growing in popularity. For teachers and campuses, I think there are a couple of things they can do. One is to break it down. I don’t think it’s enough to put in a course catalog. That, of course, is going to be fully online or hybrid flexible. I think we need to define what that means and why students would want to choose different formats as their approach to taking that class, because they do have the control coding that Spider-Man comic book. With that power comes responsibility. So I think that’s important for students to know what work each format will entail, such as asynchronous learning will require them to do a little bit more on their own. They’ll be more self directed if they’re in the synchronous learning environment. They may have to participate more than they normally do, especially if they’re introverts. And so it’s important for students to know not only what choices they have, but why they might want to make them.
Jeanette: Absolutely. It seems like there should be more than just some knowledge gained from my course catalog. Now, what else would students really need to know? Well, going into these different formats, let’s take the HyFlex, what should students know and be prepared walking into that course compared to a fully online one?
Kevin: They should know that they have the choice each and every class session to participate how they want either synchronous, online, asynchronous, or if their campus is planning to open, which some are, then they could even show up in the classroom. And those all have different ramifications if they’re planning on showing up in the classroom. Are they going to be living off campus or are they going to find a dorm room? What’s what’s this physical distancing going to look like? How to small group activities work and when you can only be six feet apart. And again, each person has their own needs based on their home situation, their work life and their academic goals. Making those choices and knowing what it means work wise for the academic setting will help them be more successful because they’re not just sitting in the room and absorbing what somebody says, but they’re active participants.
Jeanette: Now, you know, it’s a good point. I was also thinking, before COVID and before I think that there were definitely different types of students or characteristics of students that you would say, OK, this is a person I have good characteristics or good reasons for taking courses online, primarily online. Now, you know, this spring and potentially into the fall. That’s those choices aren’t necessarily there if you want to continue your education. A lot of cases you’re going to be taking courses online. So with that in mind, and it’s not really a learning style, it’s more of like adapting your learning style. Are there things that students should be doing to prepare for that? Are there things that students could do to help them be more successful in those types of classrooms, do you think?
Kevin: Absolutely. And in the blog post I’m writing now, that hopefully will launch early next week. I say that the COVID-19 experience has reminded the entire world that some things like viruses are beyond our control, but some things we can control. And so students should think about what they can control themselves. One is literally themselves their health. A lot of students talk about not exercising as much, drinking more. Those things all impact their ability to learn, their ability to be a little bit more organized. So I recommend for students to use paper, digital calendars to plan out each week and how they’re going to tackle the learning experience, getting focused, getting connected with other students. That can also optimize their attitudes by being more intentional learners, by being more motivated, by being more active, and they can optimize their environments to some extent. And so, you know, some of the surveys that I analyzed showed that students don’t have quiet study spaces. About a quarter to a third don’t have somewhere they can go. And so it might require negotiating a communal quiet time with your family or your roommates or either cheap earplugs or if you can afford it. Noise canceling headphones to block out things that are going to be distractions. There is a science around interruptions and how we lose what we gain while we’re learning if we’re interrupted. And it’s similar to the work experience. If you have someone prairie dog over the cubicle wall. You end up having to restart something that you had begun, maybe even go back further to recapture the thoughts that you were engaged in at that moment. And so whatever students can do to create quiet spaces, organize their space. So it’s not so cluttered and probably most importantly, gaining some new skills, time management skills, self directed learning skills and even study skills like spacing out the study time instead of cramming it all into big three hour blocks.
Jeanette: And then what about course design? Are there ways that instructors can be designing their courses that would benefit students, especially near to this format?
Kevin: Well, definitely. If it’s whether it’s HyFlex online or something in between, the more organized you can be, the more consistent you can be. And the more you communicate with your students about what’s expected each week, that’s all going to help students. And I would say we want to go beyond discussions, of course, design and also talk about course facilitation. A while ago, I did a trio of blog posts around course design rubrics. And I challenged all of those rubric designers to include more about what it’s like once the students actually show up in the class. It’s great to make it structured, to make it accessible for students with disabilities, to make sure there are lots of interaction opportunities. But then you have to facilitate all that. You have to guide students through the process of learning. You can’t just set it and forget it.
Jeanette: I think there’s a lot of people that are forgetting that, to be honest. You know, I there’s so many people, it seems to me, you know, talking to instructors that they’re so focused right now in the design of the course and trying to get everything in there.
I don’t know if you’ve had this experience, but I do think that they’re forgetting the work it’s going to take to facilitate. I thought, you know, I don’t know if you mentioned this on that blog post or if it wasn’t a conversation, if it was a podcast or something else we’re talking about. But you had some really good point. It was just like discussion threads that I thought was really interesting about starting making sure that there were assignments for when you start and when you need to respond to make sure that guided discussions are really strong in most cases, which are gonna be important. A lot of these classes.
Kevin: Having two due dates. I picked that up from a faculty member who’s passed away now. Gail Weinstein at San Francisco State. But it’s really helped my conversations because students submit their original post by, let’s say, Wednesday, and then they submit their replies by the following Monday. So they have time to make it a conversation instead of what I call the Tower of Babble, whereas just a bunch of people lobbing posts and replies into a pot and hoping it sticks.
Jeanette: But the other one, when he said. Yeah, I agree with x, right? Yeah.
Kevin: Or could you ever find good jobs? Smiley face. There’s another one. But the other thing too. To your point is having more instructions and more examples of what replies should look like. We give students a lot of ideas about what their posts should look like, what they should include. We might even have some rubric criteria about what we’re expecting. We want you to support your argument with two sources and blah, blah. But then when it comes to replying to other students, it says replied to other students. And that’s just not enough.
Jeanette: So, Kevin, because we were talking about HyFlex that I know even before COVID at San Francisco State implemented this and some of their courses, and I think it was more due to space constraints. If I’m correct me if I’m wrong with that. And since you were there for that and you’re still an instructor at San Francisco State. Can you give us some insight of how that was accepted by the students, what your actions were to both and students? I think instructors and maybe even the administration, it be interesting to see how this was done pre-COVID, and and do you think it’s going to be different post-COVID?
Kevin: Well, so first you had one particular class adopted, a quasi HyFlex approach because of space constraints. My own department did it for a different reason. The class that addressed space constraints was an introduction to marketing class, lower division undergraduate course with hundreds of students. Our department went HyFlex for the entire graduate program in instructional technologies and that was to address the needs of working professionals that might not be able to get to campus at 4 p.m. or even 7 p.m. based on their work load, and especially in the Bay Area, when the startup culture pushes people to work 24/7.
Jeanette: So the decision, the traffic to make you may be trying to get to San Francisco can be tough, too.
Kevin: Yeah. Luckily, the the main campus is in the southwest corner down by the zoo, which is not in the northeast corner where downtown is. So it’s not as impacted by traffic unless you have to go through downtown to get there soon. But traffic. Yeah, it’s it’s a it’s a pain. Not as bad as L.A., but it’s bad. But in terms of the student reactions, I think students recognize that it was a different learning experience and they were able to appreciate some of the pros along with the cons. For example, my colleague Brian Beatty, he wrote a book about HyFlex Course Design, and he’s got a chapter about student experience, where he quotes students that he surveyed about their experience, I think goes over three. Graduate students and, you know, students would say things like, hey, I had less interaction with my peers because I chose the asynchronous route for whatever reason. But the fact that I was writing reflections about my learning process actually made me a stronger learner. And so it’s incumbent on us to to let students know that there are pros and cons to every approach and HyFlex. And again, not only let them know what the workload might be like for each pathway, and they can choose a different pathway each time, but also what they’re going to get and miss out on so they can make informed choices.
Jeanette: Were the students actually showing up on campus or were most people just taking it a synchronously? Like, what was the majority of students doing and did it matter at the end of how the instructors were interacting with those students? Do you think it.
Kevin: Oh, so I’ll tackle those in a random order because it’s going okay. Stream of consciousness. Fewer students chose to come in person because they have that flexibility. And that’s what students really desire is convenience and flexibility, whether it’s because they are working or in the case of some of the students in that intro to marketing class, their IP addresses for those who are familiar with that term showed that they were on campus. They just didn’t walk from their dorm to the classroom. They they preferred to watch it on Zoom instead of going to the classroom. But to answer some of your other questions about the experience of this, the students. Stuck with largely the pathway they chose at the beginning of the semester, so they didn’t change pathways as much as one might think. They stuck with one and kept with it. Most students had similar experiences. All the literature has shown that students are equally successful in whatever format they choose. However, and this calls back to something. Michel Pacansky-Brock brought up an email this chain this week that it’s really about how we design and facilitate these courses. It’s not about student abilities. And so it’s easy first for faculty who are choosing HyFlex or if the campus chooses it, for them to focus heavily on the synchronous experience and kind of let the async fall off and be that set it and get it type mentality. And so students in an asynchronous environment where they’re not challenged or they don’t get a lot of feedback are going to do less well because they’re not getting that same level of attention from the instructor or their peers.
Jeanette: So just if you were to design a hybrid class and pretty much the only difference that you had, maybe this becomes not HyFlex, but that you just want to have and recorded yourself when you were maybe on campus, if you happened to be on campus or when you were doing a course in and you posted it on there. Does that just naturally become a HyFlex class?
Kevin: It does make creating a HyFlex classes a little easier because again, you if you have to record yourself twice, once in person, and then second as a kind of a Zoom recording or a Camtasia recording or screen Castomatic recording, whatever you choose to use if you have to do it twice. And that’s a lot more work. So if you know that you’re going to go HyFlex, it does make sense to say, OK, well, I’ll capture this in person experience and I will actually plan ahead and make sure that that in-person experience takes into account that some people are going to be watching the recording, the Lily, Maryland conference when virtual this spring. And so I was grateful to have the opportunity to give a presentation, and I actually made comments during my presentation. For those of you who were watching the recording of this, here’s something you can do. And so those instructors who are teaching HyFlex courses will want to make those side comments while they are facilitating a live session just so that the people in the rooms by themselves half an hour later or a day later are given some instruction about what they should be doing. They paused the video. Now, while we do this in class activity and go do X. That’s just really powerful and makes it so that everybody’s considered as you’re going through this kind of multi time line experiment.
Jeanette: So can you know, the one thing that we have to keep in mind is with the San Francisco ended up before it was that, you know, those students were actively choosing to be in a HyFlex classroom where this fall most students are not given that opportunity, regardless if they’re going to die or if they’re going on to University of California or wherever they’ve chosen to attend school. They are going to be in a lot of cases, forced to how they get their education and how the teaching of learning happens. So knowing that, are there any other things that you think students should really be doing this summer to prepare for their courses in the fall, which, you know, we still don’t really know what’s going to happen, even if the school thinks that they’re going to be, you know, on ground. Things could still happen or maybe schools are going to be online, are going to be able to go back into the classroom.
Kevin: Yeah, I think students like teachers need to take the summer to prepare. And that may mean getting some of those skills that I brought up earlier, whether it’s time management skills, playing with calendar or reminder apps that will help them stay more focused in due dates, things like that, but also learning a little bit more about what the different formats their campus might choose so that they can be ready. And again, maybe creating a little network of students that they know already so that they can lean on those students, maybe not for advice about a specific course that they’re in, but for moral support for that sense of connection, which students say they’re missing quite a bit. And for encouragement, we all are a flock of geese flying in a V, and if you’re not familiar, the geese honk from the back to motivate the one in the front because they’re doing the most work. They are creating ability for the other ones to draft. Behind it, and so their way of thinking that lead bird is by honking encouragement. So we need encouragement, right? Yes. This bumps. Six feet apart.
Jeanette: Right, exactly. Now, that’s true. I’m always the slowest runner in a group, so I’m always cheering them on. Well, I hope we have a good weekend, Kevin. It’s nice.
Kevin: I hope you do, too.
Jeanette: And we will be, you know, of course, back talking more about how COVID and how it’s affecting education today. Maybe more pointers from from Dr. Kevin.
Kevin: I think we all have some great things to add. So it’s always good to talk to you and have a good weekend yourself.