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HyFlex - Annotated Bibliography (Part 1)

2015 APSA Teaching and Learning Conference and Track Summaries. (2015). PS: Political Science & Politics, 48(3), 503-505. doi:10.1017/S1049096515000323.

2015 Apsa Teaching And Learning Conference And Track Summaries

• HyFlex research (Michael Ault) suggests that students are able to self-select the type of learning environment that works best for them.

• Issues that exist in the face to face classroom will continue to exist in the online classroom.

• Focused, short, chunked lessons were more helpful to students than hour long lessons. Especially when these short lessons were followed by an application of concepts, activity, and assessment.

• An effective online course must merge traditional teaching practices with technology

Park, Y.J., Bonk, C. J. (2007, September). Online Life a Breeze? A Case Study for Promoting Synchronous Learning in a Blended Graduate Course. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3(3). Retrieved from https://jolt.merlot.org/vol3no3/park.pdf.

A Case Study For Promoting Synchronous Learning In A Blended Graduate Course

Research Methods

Research examined instructor practices in synchronous context (the critiques), examined the how technology tools were used to support both faculty and students, and asked for the instructors’ perceived benefits and disadvantages of the synchronous mode and tools.

• Course being used for research included 22 distance students, 11 residential students, 1 full time faculty, and 5 graduate teaching assistants who helped with facilitation.

• Students were required to complete three main projects individually

• Students were required to participate in four synchronous critique sessions of 3-4 students and the individual instructor (there were 49 total sessions conducted)

• Data collected through online course evaluation at the end of the semester, follow-up interviews


• 85% of total students agreed that online critiques were helpful for project completion

• Follow up interviews (4 online, 4 residential)

• indicate that students were satisfied with the following synchronous activities

• prompt feedback

• Meaningful interactions

• Instructor’s appropriate supports

• Indicate that students were not satisfied with the following synchronous activities

• Time constraints

• Lack of reflection time

• Tool-related problems

• Peers’ insufficient preparation with equipment and technology

• Follow up with instructors indicated

• Real time communication helped to promote more interacting and meaningful engagement during discussions

• Student complaint about isolation became non existent after participating in the synchronous meetings

• Fast feedback, social supports, rich verbal elements, and instructional strategies could also help eliminate feelings of isolation

• Synchronous conversations allowed for instant feedback to student questions

• Verbal (audio) feedback was more beneficial that text based feedback

• Instructional supports

• ground rules made clear what students should/should not do during critique sessions as both provider and receiver

• Practice sessions were offered to familiarize students with format - these sessions addressed key elements of the critiquing activity

• Materials to be used in critiquing sessions were made available ahead of time

• Focus for synchronous sessions was student centered - instructors acted as facilitators

• For this particular course, student teams of three were ideal for one hour synchronous sessions

• Implications

• Prepare students for synchronous learning

• Clarify technology requirements

• Explain task/purpose

• Schedule practice sessions

• Be flexible

• Promote active meaningful interactions

• Scaffold students’ discussions

• Create a social climate

• Provide materials to be discussed

• Facilitate a small group based discussion

• Provide faculty with planned supports

• Provide technology options

Wright, D. (2016). The HyFlex course design: A case study on adult and career education courses. National Social Science Journal, 48(2), 88-93.

Nss Journal 48 2

Purpose of this study was to examine the following questions:

  1. Why did the instructor choose to implement the HyFlex model?
  2. Did students perceive that they learned as much or more in the course as expected?
  3. Were students satisfied with their interactions and learning in the HyFlex course?
  4. How connected did the students feel to the learning community?

Four factors were considered as HyFlex was implemented:

learner choice - develop meaningful alternative participation modes for the course and allow participants to choose how to participate.

equivalency - ensure that the course has equivalent learning opportunities in all participation modes.

reusability - utilize artifacts from learning activities in each participation mode as learning objects for all students.

Accessibility - ensure that students have had the opportunity

Research Methods

  • Instructor originally taught both on online and face to face section of a specific course
  • 186 students enrolled as undergraduates and graduates in nine courses taught from Fall 2013 to Spring 2015
  • Goal of HyFlex design was to give students options for attendance
  • Live options for students were:
    • Face to face
    • Synchronous online
  • No requirements for how often students attended online or face to face
  • Course design
    • HyFlex was introduced on the first day of lecture
    • Student assignments included: readings, learning activities, discussions, and projects
    • Small group collaborative work and team meetings (could occur in person or virtually)
  • End of semester surveys were given to students to ask about:
    • Participation preferences
    • Satisfaction with learning in the HyFlex course design
    • How connected they felt to the learning community
    • How students wanted courses delivered


  • 186 students were surveyed
    • 18% preferred HyFlex
    • 26% blended
    • 44% fully online
    • 10% face to face
    • 2% undecided
  • 95% of students indicated they strongly agreed or agreed that they learned as much as expected in HyFlex
  • 94% of students indicated they felt connected to their peers and 96% felt connected to their instructor


  • There will need to be adjustments to teaching strategies
  • Takes time to develop and requires thinking differently about curriculum development
  • Schools need to have strong IT support and infrastructures
  • Instructors will need to coordinate with other faculty and be willing to implement new technology
  • Students will need to take on greater responsibility for their own learning process and educational outcomes

Bell, J., Sawaya, S., & Cain, W. (2014). Synchromodal classes: Designing for shared learning experiences between face-to-face and online students. International Journal of Designs for learning, 5(1).

Synchromodal Classes Designing For Shared Learning Experiences

Synchromodal - classes where online and face to face students interact during a shared synchronous. This paper reviews the iterations of a synchromodal course at MSU from 2010-2013. There were four different course models: linked classrooms, shared portals, personal portals, and small groups (each group met face to face and were connected virtually to the instructor).

Concluding Remarks

Technology is constantly changing, and what worked one semester may not work the following semester. Organizing the synchromodal classes required additional planning when compared to face to face only or online only. Use technology the fits the problem being solved and is best for the situation it is being used in. Pedagogy was driven by the TPACK model, which emphasizes the interconnectedness between content, pedagogy, and technology. It was important to assign a "tech navigator" who oversaw the technology and associated pedagogy to free up the instructor to focus on student learning. Their final assumption - "we must never be done learning."

Zydney, J. M., Warner, Z., & Angelone, L. (2020). Learning through experience: Using design based research to redesign protocols for blended synchronous learning environments. Computers & Education, 143, 103678.

Learning Through Experience Using Design Based Research

Purpose of study

This study is trying to understand how protocol pedagogy could be integrated into a blended synchronous learning environment using DBR, there were three iterations of the model for this study.

Research question: How can protocols be redesigned to enhance learner experiences within blended synchronous environments?


Protocol Pedagogy - student focused lesson designed to create an environment for students to have meaningful interactions. There must be a well defined goal for the discussion. Four design principles are followed:

  • Enabling active participation through varied roles
  • Creating equity through structure
  • Fostering trust through establishing norms
  • Prompting connections with texts

Design Based Research (DBR) - similar to action research, where instructors focus on improving teaching practice. DBR includes on iterative element, so that instructors design, develop, and implement a specific teaching practice. Then, through collaboration with peers and reflection, iterate the design and repeat the process.


This study used design based research (DBR) to allow for iteration and improvement at the course developed over time. A graduate course was developed for a blended synchronous format that incorporated the learning protocols. There were four session dates and times listed, the course was broken into eight modules and alternated two weeks for discussion and two weeks for projects. The first week and a half of each discussion was through asynchronous participation, and the last piece was through a blended synchronous session. Synchronous sessions were organized in similar fashion:

  1. Intro lecture / whole class activity
  2. Small breakout groups utilizing the protocols
  3. Debrief of the small group discussions

Research team was the course instructor, a research assistant, and a qualitative research expert. Participants were 17 students, with 11 females and four males agreeing to participate in the study. Data was collected through survey, classroom observations, notes from debriefs between the instructor and the research assistant after each session, and interviews with both instructor and students. The primary purpose of the data collections methods that were chosen were focused on trying to understand the learner experience.


With each iteration of the course design, changes were made to the course, with four specific items changing over time:

  • The protocol
    • Timing and structure of the rounds - time ranges instead of time limits
    • Organization of the rounds changed over time as well - moving from being focused on a topic, to applying what was discussed in the first round in future rounds to each round focused on a particular person - with that person sharing and the other students reacting.
  • The facilitator role
    • Student facilitators originally worked very closely with the instructor, over time, the student facilitators were given more control over the discussions, this increased the ability of the facilitator to meet the needs of the group without requiring extended communication with the instructor.
  • The use of web-conferencing tool
    • Updated so that students could see each other.
  • The audio setup
    • On campus students originally were required to use headphones, in iteration two and following, on campus students were no longer required to use headphones.
  • Students who were facilitating enjoyed this role when they perceived that leading the group discussion was successful, the opposite was also true, students who perceived that the discussion was not successful did not view being the facilitator as a good thing.
  • Due to the protocols being used to control time and ensure that all students had equity in discussion, students were hyperaware of the time - technology issues exacerbated this problem.
  • Difficult to develop trust because of technology issues and the instability of when students would be in person or online.
  • Due to the multitasking nature of a synchronous blended course, it is difficult to develop deep connections.


  • Roles and responsibilities need to be distributed across all students so that no student feels overwhelmed.
  • Special training for student facilitators is critical
  • Maintaining specific protocols was important, but the circumstances of the course (blended synchronous) also required some flexibility
  • Classroom norms in blended classrooms are different than students expect, re-norming is important and can be accomplished through training, low-stakes experiences, and communicating clear expectations
  • Reduce task complexity will benefit students, there are so many things that occur during blended synchronous courses that students can be overwhelmed and distracted

Lieberman, M. (2018, January). Blendflex lets students toggle between online or face-to-face courses. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2018/01/24/blendflex-lets-students-toggle-between-online-or-face-face.

Blendflex Lets Students Toggle Between Online Or Face To Face Courses


Blendflex: a course that has face-to-face, synchronous online, and asynchronous online experiences all being used at the same time.

Students participate in class in a way that works for them, including how many face-to-face classes they choose to attend. If a student chooses not to participate in the face-to-face piece, there is an equivalent online portion.

Key Points

  • Central Georgia Technical received a grant to develop their first "blendflex" course (in the healthcare department), which has become so popular with students that other departments (math and English) have requested to use it. Overall there are over 20 courses using this classroom model on campus.
  • Enrollment was capped at 30, but due to popularity, courses were capped at 60. As a result, faculty were allowed to count a full blendflex course at two courses on their teaching requirements.
  • St. Thomas (Minnesota) launched a flexible course model in the summer for undergraduates, by the following Spring semester they needed to increase the enrollment cap.
  • Georgia Technical uses videoconferencing tools and recorded lectures are used. Each lesson is grounded in Universal Design.
  • Instructors at Georgia Technical who are going to teach blendflex are required to take a nine hour professional development course - that is delivered in blendflex mode: three face to face sessions and an online option.
  • Challenges:
    • Students being unfamiliar with blendflex/hyflex
    • Students need to be accountable for their learning- Georgia Technical offers one two week grace period, then the student is removed from the course
    • At St. Thomas, it took considerable effort and time to successfully get the course up and running


  • Georgia Technical blendflex students had a higher acceptance rate to a competitive health program: 40% of blendflex students were accepted compared to 28% on non-blendflex students. Final grades were similar with 83% of the blendflex students earning at least a C compared to 81% for non-blendflex students.
  • Idea for success: scale up. Add an online option for a couple of weeks, then gradually increase this. Georgia Technical saw that most students were in attendance for the first few class periods.

Yamagata-Lynch, L. C. (2014). Blending online asynchronous and synchronous learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(2), 189-212.

Blending Online Asynchronous And Synchronous Learning

Research Question

The research question guiding this study:

How can the designer/instructor optimize learning experiences for students who are studying about online learning environments in a blended online course relying on both synchronous and asynchronous technologies?

Research Methods

  • Self study the instructor/designer. Researcher was a participant observer.
  • Data was triangulated by utilizing primary and secondary sources:
    • Primary sources:
      • Student reflection papers (three papers submitted at specific times during the course)
      • 8 out of 13 students gave permission to use the papers
    • Secondary sources
      • Student assignments
      • Synchronous participation recordings
      • Asynchronous discussion board postings
      • Anonymous student initial course survey (instructor created)
      • Anonymous student post course survey (university administered)
      • Observations and comments from a faculty member who observed one weeks worth of synchronous and asynchronous activities.
  • Data was analyzed by utilizing thematic analysis


  • 1 male, 7 female participants
  • All participants were involved with adult learning in some fashion
  • Several students has experience with online courses
  • No students had any experience with a blended synchronous and asynchronous format
  • Students need to be familiar with synchronous meeting tools
  • Ground rules need to be enforced
  • Students need to know where the course is heading
  • Benefits of synchronous online learning:
    • Students were able to participate at a higher level than a more passive environment
    • Variety of communication styles
    • Students could work in their own space


  • Participants come to online courses with varied participatory learning experiences, and need time to find a new identity as an online learning
  • Synchronous delivery modes can provide a stronger sense of connection among participants, and a blended online synchronous and asynchronous course can strengthen social presence.
  • Participant experiences are greatly affected by the design/instructor's ability to bring a sense of cohesion and structure in the synchronous learning environments.
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