Nineteen classrooms across the University were transformed with hardware and software upgrades to provide hy-flex course delivery this fall semester. The hy-flex class mode offers an engaging method for teaching and learning for both students and faculty, while under pandemic restriction protocols.
The endeavour brought multiple departments together to implement this innovative technology and pedagogy. “Our team worked tirelessly to add key features including tracking cameras, software and hardware to capture and stream classes in these hy-flex environments. Their commitment to the project has been incredible,” says Ryan Kenney executive director, Information Technology Services (ITS). “The execution of this project was possible due to the collaboration of the Office of Open Learning (OOL) and the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL).”
“The summer term usually provides the opportunity to improve and update three classrooms, completing the 19 is monumental, along with two additional rooms that will be upgraded by the Winter term. It’s remarkable how much was accomplished during five months leading up to September,” says assistant director - ITS Marcin Pulcer
Before the start of classes, the Office of Opening Learning, in collaboration with CTL and ITS, facilitated over 30 sessions supporting the campus in preparation for teaching and learning in the hy-flex classrooms. This effort included delivery of training sessions in hy-flex mode to over 80 instructors interested in offering hy-flex classes, and more than 60 specialized hy-flex teaching assistants.
“The hy-flex approach offers faculty and students the flexibility to safely engage in learning in ways that we couldn’t before, but it also takes a lot of commitment to learn to teach effectively in this way, especially when many faculty had already spent considerable time learning how to teach online over the last year and were finally starting to feel comfortable in that mode,” says Nick Baker, director of the Office of Open Learning.
“While it’s early days yet with this model, and there are always going to be challenges with new technology, we are hearing many positive things from the hy-flex classes as these pioneering professors creatively explore the possibilities of these spaces,” Baker says.
Hy-flex courses have been intentionally developed to provide flexibility and choice for learners in how they attend the course. Students have the option to meet in class for face-to-face instruction, within COVID limits, or attend online synchronously, with both groups being able to interact with each other in real-time. The remote and in-person learners can typically also review the course content asynchronously if they cannot take part at the scheduled time.
The implementation of this hy-flex project positions the University well to connect with learners during the pandemic but will also provide considerable flexibility for instructors in the future to continue enhancing the experience and choice for students.
Watch a video walkthrough of the hy-flex classrooms experience.