During the pandemic teaching remotely became the norm. Post-pandemic, however, many universities are employing huge resources to come up with models that integrate online and in-person teaching and learning in different ways.
The idea behind this plan is to deliver the lectures as well as the experience of being in a classroom to the students without jeopardizing their safety. Simultaneously, making provisions for those who can’t make it to the campus. The intention is also to provide the students the option of distancing themselves from crowded classrooms while learning, hence protecting them as well as faculty members. Consequently, many universities are adopting Hybrid, Blended, or Hyflex (hybrid-flexible) instructional models in the upcoming academic session.
Post-pandemic as the spread of the virus abated, universities started paying special attention to the specific needs of students and teachers. Acknowledging that the task of imparting education should not stop, yet the risk of virus spread should be minimised, the universities have introduced different formats of teaching and learning. Integrating methods has also become essential to ensure that the government safety guidelines are followed. Renowned universities attract students from all across the world, however, given the fact that during this academic session each country has different travel and quarantine requirements, offering different methods for teaching and learning has become a necessity.
It is also anticipated that since the trajectory of the pandemic is unpredictable, there might be a need for students to isolate or quarantine during the term. At the time different instructional models would come in handy and ensure uninterrupted learning. Invariably, in-person teaching is expected to have hybrid components during this academic session. Though all universities are expected to adapt new methods of teaching according to their suitability and electronic infrastructure abilities.
The hybrid model of teaching entails teaching a portion of the course in person while managing the remainder through online activities by means of applications like Zoom. For example, the teachers could schedule an in-person session for students once a week and cover the other parts through online sessions. Blended learning on the other hand combines in-person classes and online activities in a way that the remote component of the course becomes the additional part of the course. Hence, the online material and activities are not expected to replace face-to-face teaching in class, like in the case of hybrid courses, but are a follow upbuilding on the class lectures.
Meanwhile, Hyflex is an instructional model that has become the flavour of the season. Made of two words—Hybrid and Flexible, Hyflexintegrates face-to-face classes with a remote learning experience. The purpose of this teaching and learning method is to ensure that the students studying remotely, as well as those present on campus, can learn together. Hyflexcreated by Brian Beatty, a Professor of instructional technologies at the San Francisco State University, is the most accommodating instructional method of the three.
Through Hyflex, students are offered courses in-class as well as online and they can choose between the two, depending on their situation—location or state of health. The students get to choose for every class if they want to attend it in-person or online, thus offering them enormous flexibility. Students can control how and when to participate in their in-person or online classes, thus ensuring that the students’ sensitivities are understood and they feel secure and safe through the health crisis caused by COVID-19.
HyFlex courses are different from hybrid and blended courses as they entail a choice to attend classes in person or through online instructional software. Students can also shift between online and in-person classes throughout the semester.
While Hyflex model of instructions is the most flexible, and theoretically offers equal opportunities to both online and on-campus students, there are pros and cons of each of them. Moreover, the goals of Hybrid, Blended, and Hyflex are also different.
To increase enrolment in courses, Hybrid and Hyflex courses are best suited. Hybrid courses start with in-person classes, hence are capable of arousing interest among the students, while the latter makes it convenient for the students to attend at all times. However, to guarantee inclusivity in the course, the blended model is ideal, as it makes sure that lessons are imparted in person and only supplementary activities are followed remotely. Thus the instructional needs of different students are met. To monitor student progress, Hyflex may not be appropriate. Some students might choose to attend the entire course remotely through Hyflex. While in Hybrid and Blended models there is an in-person interaction, which can provide a way of checking student progress as well as receive feedback.
In sum it can be said that depending on the goals and requirements, each university can choose an appropriate instructional method. However, it should be remembered that in the post-pandemic world, there is a need for each institution to learn, adapt and adopt means to continue offering their services in the best way possible. In case of not being able to understand the students’ needs and sensitivities in this unpredictable time, the risk of closing down would always loom.