Myths and Facts of "Hi-Flex” Course Design

Authors: Angelica Fulchini Scruggs, Ph.D.;

On June 26th, 2024, CIDDL hosted a webinar to discuss the evolution and current state of “hi-flex” teaching, addressing common misconceptions and providing factual information. During the webinar, Martha Burtis, Director of Open CoLab Plymouth State University, and Bryan Mascio, Ed.D. Faculty-in-Residence, Power of Place Learning Communities: Educational Consultant emphasized the importance of pedagogy over modality and technology in the 'Hi-Flex with an AI' approach. 

Technology Integration Their Way!

We learned a lot about hybrid pedagogies during the pandemic. Now that many universities have shifted back to single-modality options (in-person or all online), what does the future of highly flexible pedagogy look like? The webinar explores and dispels common myths about hi-flex pedagogy and encourages us to think about modeling access and equity in what we teach and how we teach. 

Martha Burtis and Bryan Mascio, Ed. D. also discussed the “hi-flex” pedagogy, highlighting its adaptability to different contexts and the need to challenge instinctual resistance to online learning. The speakers emphasized the importance of intentionality in teaching and learning modalities and advocated for a more thoughtful approach to teaching and learning.

Top Three Competencies Needed for “Hi-Flex” Success

Here are the top 3 competencies needed for success in hi-flex pedagogy:

Disentangling goals from means: This competency involves identifying a course’s learning objectives and separating them from the specific activities or methods used to achieve them. This allows instructors to be flexible in delivering instruction and cater to different student needs.

Mindset shift: This competency emphasizes the importance of instructors being open to hi-flex pedagogy and its potential benefits for students. It requires a willingness to move away from traditional teaching methods and embrace a more flexible and student-centered approach.

Methodological skills: While a mindset shift is crucial, instructors must also develop the practical skills and techniques to design and implement a hi-flex course. This includes creating accessible materials, planning for different modalities (in-person, online synchronous, online asynchronous), and effectively managing the learning environment.

Summary from the Live Q&A

Our live Q&A highlighted common misconceptions about hi-flex teaching. Some believe it's simply about offering courses in different formats (online, in-person, etc.). However, the speakers argue that hi-flex goes beyond modality and focuses on the following:

Learner choice: Students can choose how they participate (face-to-face, online synchronously, or online asynchronously).

Equivalency: Students achieve the same learning outcomes regardless of the modality chosen.

Reusability: Learning materials and activities should be adaptable to different formats.

Accessibility: The design should allow all students to participate in any modality.

The core idea is that hi-flex prioritizes pedagogy (teaching methods) that align with these principles and then chooses modalities that support that pedagogy.

Important Take Aways

Also, during the Q&A, the speakers mentioned some of these summarized points: 

Building Asynchronous Aspects: Recording synchronous sessions (lectures) is a great way to create asynchronous content for students who can't attend live sessions.

Moving from Paper to Digital: Making digital materials the default and providing them beforehand benefits in-person and asynchronous students.

Increased accessibility for students with disabilities.

Asynchronous students have the same information as in-person students.

Disentangling Goals from Means: The learning experience will not be identical for synchronous and asynchronous students, but that's okay.

The focus should be on ensuring all students have equal opportunity to achieve the same learning goals.

Additional Notes: Jamboard, a collaborative whiteboard tool, is being discontinued. Potential replacements include Padlet and Big Jamboard.

Continue the Conversation

Join our community to discuss the Myths and Facts of "Hi-Flex” Course Design. Additionally, CIDDL is looking to hold more webinars highlighting YOUR work. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in future webinars, email your (or their) name, institution, and a brief biography highlighting your (or their) innovative research related to technology, innovation, and special education to