E-Learning COP co-leads visit one of the new Dawson hyflex classrooms
April 1st, 2021
Chantale Giguère and Mark Mattei (co-coordinators of the E-learning Community of practice), along with Rafael Scapin (Coordinator of Educational Technology), David Bannout (Technician of Multimedia), Cameron Campbell (Ped Counseller IT Solutions) and Mike O’Hara (Helpdesk Manager) have tested one of the 20 new Dawson hyflex classrooms last week (4E11). Here are their first impressions and reflection on hyflex course design.
Although we were learning about hyflex course-design before this year, the actual COVID situation has led to the need to investigate this new course model with greater urgency. Testing one of Dawson’s 20 hyflex-capable classrooms with IST members was insightful. We were able to test the hyflex room and make recommendations regarding its set up in hopes to maximize the pedagogical experience for both students and faculty.
To be clear,‘’HyFlex is a course design model that presents the components of hybrid learning in a flexible course structure that gives students the option of attending sessions in the classroom, participating online, or doing both. Students can change their mode of attendance weekly or by topic, according to need or preference.’’(Northern I U)
The main objective with implementing such an innovative course design is to facilitate the transition back to on campus learning. Because not all students will be able to attend class in person (either secondary to personal reasons or social distancing requirements), the hyflex model may provide a means of having students return to in-person activities. Currently a maximum of 6 to 8 students fit in a regular-sized classroom while respecting distancing requirements. The rest of the class would attend online by videoconferencing. We hope that with the acceleration of vaccination, the on-line/in-person proportions could be reversed so that the majority of students attend in-person.
Based on our readings and contacts with other post-secondary institutions, we expect that teaching using a hyflex model will come with a significant learning curve for most teachers. Benefits including reducing social isolation for students and teachers and promoting inclusivity by allowing students to decide whether they prefer to attend class virtually or in-person. For courses where the use of technology presents as a challenge a hyflex class can be an interesting solution (e.g., more effective to write on a board).
Despite some benefits, we anticipate different types of challenges with hyflex courses.
- Training to learn how to use the technology in the classroom will be required. Microphones and cameras installed in the rooms will need to be tested prior to class. IST is currently updating an instruction guide that will be made available in each of the hyflex classrooms. IST plans to have a technician available at the start of each class to help faculty with the use of technology. If a technical issue arises after the technician has left, the teacher can request support to the Helpdesk.
We were told that IST has ordered another 25 Logitech Meetup cameras (the bar-sized cam, with a very sensitive speaker and microphone and a wide-angle camera). They have also added 2 desktop monitors on the podium, so the teacher will be able to see the Zoom meeting while managing any other document.
- Logistical: Teachers will need a scheduling system to plan which students will attend in person, for each class offered using a hyflex model.
- Pedagogical: Research tells us that developing an efficient hyflex lesson is complex and has to be very well structured. The main pedagogical challenges relate to:
- choosing the proper learning objective for the lesson taking place in this room;
- carefully planning interactions amongst students;
- designing learning activities to engage students so that in-person and on-line students work together.
Keep in mind that not all learning objectives could be achieved on-line. In this case, a hyflex model would not be appropriate.
Here are a few of our insights Following our first visit of a Dawson hyflex classroom:
- Will hyflex courses be a temporary solution for a transition to full-time on campus learning, or will it be a long-term solution to accommodate some students who can not attend a class in person for valid reasons?
- What types of courses, departments or programs would benefit from hyflex courses and which would not? Based on what criteria?
- Given the option, will most students choose to learn in person or remotely?
- Is the time investment for planning a hyflex course worth the result?
The E-Learning Community of practice will continue next year to plan webinars and drop-ins so you can participate in the reflection about different online course models: synchronous, asynchronous, hyflex, and hopefully all types of blended courses. If you have questions/ suggestions for the E-Learning COP, please contact one of the co-leads or Fellows.
Department Chairperson & Program Coordinator
Physiotherapy Technology Program
Co-coordinator, E-Learning Community of Practice
Co-coordinator, E-Learning Community of Practice
Professeure, Département de français