HyFlex Teaching at the University of Minnesota

HyFlex courses have a combination of in-person and online students who are able to interact but are physically separated. Brian Beatty, who developed this model with courses at San Francisco State University, noted that this method of course design has “...been used successfully for more than a decade at many higher education institutions around the world with a wide variety of courses” (Hybrid-Flexible Course Design).

HyFlex allows students to attend the same class in different ways:

  • In-person (synchronous)
  • Remote (synchronous), such as in Zoom meetings
  • Online (asynchronous), such as viewing lecture recordings 

Some instructors may plan for HyFlex delivery before the semester starts while others may implement it during the semester based on student health considerations and/or to comply with public health guidance.

In President Gabel’s June 2020 message to students, faculty, and staff, HyFlex was listed as one of the course modalities for Fall 2020 instruction.

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HyFlex Format Designation, Classroom Scheduling, and Room Configurations

For scheduling purposes and student enrollment information, HyFlex (i.e., a course simultaneously offering in-person, online and/or remote options) is listed using the Blended Class format. 

Classroom configurations have also been changed to provide social distancing (e.g., a smaller 30 person class may be spread out in a large lecture room impacting in-class activities).

To learn more about scheduling and classroom configurations, visit the Office of Classroom Management webpage. 

Identify Classroom Technology Requirements

How do I find out what is available in my assigned classroom to communicate and collaborate with remote learners?

UMN classrooms vary in terms of their capacity to support HyFlex. To fully facilitate a HyFlex plan your classroom technology should ideally be able to provide:

  • The ability to hear all those speaking 
    • Microphones that cover all those in the room, such as a ceiling microphone.
  • The ability to see what’s happening 
    • Multiple cameras that can show the instructor, students, documents, and/or shared writing surfaces.

Depending upon what's available from the room technology, instructors should be prepared to:

  • Use the existing room equipment for both instructor and student audio and video + their own computer for Zoom sessions and recording.
  • Use the existing room equipment for instructor only audio and video + their own computer for Zoom sessions and recording.
  • Bring your own computer and/or mobile device for audio and video + Zoom sessions and recording.
  • Ask students to bring their own devices to participate in class discussions and activities.

To determine what classroom support is available to you, check with your department or collegiate unit. Note: available support will vary by campus and unit.

  • Crookston Media Services
  • Duluth ITSS Classroom Technology
  • Morris
  • Rochester
  • Twin Cities
  • Health Sciences Classroom Services - Most of the ~70 classrooms have Zoom connectivity capabilities (USB connectivity to AV feeds, Zoom Room, automatic classroom recording etc. Check the website link above for more information or consultation). 
  • The Office of Classroom Management has a Room Search page that lists features (noted in bold below) to help you understand what equipment is available in your classroom and is being updated as upgrades are completed.
    • Upon receiving approval in June, many Twin Cities campus general purpose classrooms are being upgraded to include:
      • Class Capture: audio/video bar will be installed at the instructor station and will provide auto-cropped video and instructor audio within 10-15 feet of the device.
      • Webinar: camera and ceiling microphones will be installed.

Once these updates are installed, most classrooms will provide a microphone and camera. To compare different capabilities and availability of technology, review the Conferencing Equipment webpage.

Prepare to Teach HyFlex

How do I teach with in-person, remote, and online students simultaneously?

HyFlex requires a parallel design where in-person elements have counterparts that are used with online and remote students. Using the in-person class time in a flipped model creates space to put lecture content online while leaving the in-person class time for interaction, activity, community-building, and discussion. Focusing on the instructional activities (assignments, discussions, assessments) and how you will implement them for both in-person and remote students can help you develop a successful pedagogical plan. A successful HyFlex course will have content, interactions, and activities available online. 

Determine how students in different delivery modes will engage for each learning material/activity:

  • In-person (synchronous)
  • Remote (synchronous via Zoom) 
  • Online (asynchronous via Canvas)

Based on the above determination:

Design for Online to meet student needs

Preparing your Canvas course site fully at the beginning of the semester will help you manage your students’ assignment submissions and grades. Your students will also benefit from knowing that they have one place to find course resources, submit assignments, and connect with their peers.

Communicate to your students before your first class

  • Share the physical classroom social distancing restrictions.
  • If students have not already selected their instructional mode, provide a way to manage who will attend the physical classroom and who will join remotely.
  • Manage expectations, “this is not an ideal situation, but we want to hear from you about how it’s going,” keeping communication open. 
  • Provide explicit instructions as to how questions and answers will be handled from remote and online students.
  • Adjust your syllabus to reflect policies and your current teaching situation to reflect the differences in modes and options for participation.
  • Identify what technology students will need for in-person and remote class sessions. All students will likely need devices in the room and for their remote participation.
  • Incorporate multiple options for participation in your lessons to allow interactions and feedback from all students.

Identify how assessments will be handled for the term

For each assessment, provide detailed instructions for completing and submitting the assessment, keeping in mind students in different instructional modes.

Teach in a HyFlex Classroom

Considerations for teaching in a Hyflex mode

For each class session, plan to engage students wherever they are: in-person, remote via Zoom, or asynchronous via Canvas. It is suggested that you create an outline for each class meeting that indicates how learning will be facilitated for each format option. Refer to examples of HyFlex Class Session Plans. Below are teaching considerations for multiple delivery formats. 

Identify support

  • Connect for a consultation as you plan your course.
  • Find your Academic Technology Contact or contact TeachingSupport for course design and development assistance. 
  • Arrange for a visit to the classroom to test things out, and identify who you can ask for help in the early weeks as you get settled.
  • Find your UMN Classroom Contact (under development).
  • If available, it is recommended instructors have someone to assist with classroom technology for the first few weeks of class (graduate assistant, a student in the class, etc). There may also be some class meetings during the semester when additional technology support would be helpful (e.g., final group presentations, group projects, guest remote presenters, etc.).

Discussion and Communication

  • Provide opportunities for all students (in-person, remote, and asynchronous Canvas) to interact and communicate with others across delivery formats. 
  • Determine question and answer format, either by repeating questions from in-person students to online students (and vice versa), responding to online questions at assigned times, or asking someone to moderate chat. 
  • Ensure that comparable discussion and communication opportunities are available in your Canvas site for asynchronous students.
  • In order to manage the multiple discussion and communications formats, it is highly recommended instructors identify a co-instructor, TA, or student to help moderate your Zoom chat. 
  • Consider using technology tools like polling and Google docs to allow for engagement with both in-person and remote students and/or as a springboard for discussion.

Group Work

  • Determine if groups will be formed with in-person and/or remote Zoom students, and how you will accommodate physical distancing requirements in the classroom. 
  • Ensure that comparable group activities are available in your Canvas site for asynchronous students.

In-Person (Synchronous) 

  • Decide how you will socially distance your students in your physical in-person classroom. You may need to rotate students on certain days. 
  • Consider how you will present any visuals in a mode that is accessible to both in-person and remote students. If presenting slides, make sure to share your screen. If using the white board, make sure it is captured by the video or consider using a digital alternative.
  • Consider how you will present any visuals in a mode that is accessible to both in-person and remote students. If presenting slides, make sure to share your screen. If using the white board, make sure it is captured by the video or consider using a digital alternative.
  • For on-campus safety guidelines, refer to z.umn.edu/covid19.

Remote (Synchronous)

  • Learn how to Teach Online Class Sessions with Zoom.
  • Meeting hosts: enable automatic live transcription to increase accessibility in your Zoom meetings; also consider how to accommodate students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Ensure that any handouts used for synchronous teaching are available to remote and in-person students, including appropriate ability to edit or take notes.

Online (Asynchronous)

To meet the needs of students who may be participating asynchronously online, ensure that all course materials, assignments, and activities are available in your Canvas site. 

About this web page

This content was created in July 2020 by members of the HyFlex working group: Alex Anderson, Jennifer Englund, Kara Hanson, Noah Holm, Annette McNamara, Sara Nystuen, Bob Rubinyi, Ryan Rupprecht, Greg Steinke, Peg Sherven, and Jacob Swogger. Special thanks to Adolfo Carrillo Cabello and CEI’s Senenge Andzenge, Kris Gorman, and Christina Petersen.