Hyflex classes “seeks to maximize learner choice,” says Langara

Despite drawbacks, hyflex classes can benefit students and instructors, according to Langara's library and information technology department

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By Daniel Johnston 

This story has been updated to include comments from Fiona Hunt and Diane Thompson

Langara faculty are having trouble accommodating absent students due to Langara’s sick policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are also trying to navigate the challenge of teaching “hyflex” classes that contain both in-person students and students who are online at the same time.

Faculty are faced with a dilemma

Currently, faculty are faced with a dilemma: either accommodate sick students by teaching them online or risk the students falling behind if they can’t attend classes.

Langara’s student attendance policy states, “Instructors should be reasonable and fair when considering requests for accommodations resulting from unavoidable absences.”

Bryan Breguet, chair of the economics department, said that instructors are left on their own to decide how to help students keep up when they miss classes because of COVID concerns.

“There are no general guidelines as to how it works, not at the college level,” Breguet said. “The college has asked us to be maybe more empathetic and more flexible.”

Hyflex incorporates in-person and online students

Instructors are also experimenting with hyflex learning that involves teaching students in-person and online simultaneously.

According to instructors in the department of library and information technology at Langara, hyflex learning works but is also time consuming.

“We did a poll among students and there was a lot of concern about safety in the classroom, and the teachers, we’re concerned as well,” said Fiona Hunt, department chair for the library and information program.

“We started looking into ways that we could make everyone feel more comfortable and we came across the idea of hyflex.”

Hunt is part of a Langara committee on introducing hyflex learning to other programs in the college.

“I think that we’re the only department who has actually piloted it so far, but I know that other departments are interested,” said Hunt.

Diane Thompson, an instructor also in the library and information technology department, says that although hyflex learning is working, it’s creating extra work for faculty.

“There are all kinds of benefits, the instructor doesn’t get exposed to somebody who isn’t feeling well and potentially has COVID, and the student isn’t spreading it rapidly amongst the class,” said Thompson. “The student can still participate in the activities and the learning that’s happening that day without compromising everybody’s health.”

More attention is needed from instructors for hyflex classes

There’s a drawback. “During the class, it needs a lot more resources and attention, and if you don’t have the right technology, it doesn’t work very well, for anybody,” said Thompson.

“You’re aware of the students in front of you, but then you also have to think: how do I include those students over Zoom?” said Thompson. “You can’t do this by yourself, you have to have somebody else there with you.”

To make hyflex learning work, instructors use students to monitor the Zoom call. Hunt said it’s difficult for the instructor to keep track of their in-person teaching and the Zoom station without the student monitors.

“Whether it continues in the future is something that we haven’t decided yet,” said Hunt, referencing hyflex learning in classes. “Students were quite understanding, I think they were so pleased that they could attend in a flexible way.”

“The students benefited,” said Thompson. “It was a win-win for everybody, it was worth the extra time and the extra preparation.”

 

Watch this video to hear interview with Diane Thompson instructor of library and information technology department at Langara talking about benefits of hyflex classes. 

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