April 29, 2021

The hyflex teaching model allows some to work remotely while others can work face-to-face, explained California Lutheran University professor Dr. Sharla Berry. Dr. Berry is an online learning expert who has been published in multiple top-tier research publications. After a year of online teaching and online meetings, the U.S. is changing its COVID-19 protocols allowing students the option of going to a classroom on campus. Hyflex teaching allows students to be flexible with their learning and decide to learn, whether it is their home or the classroom. 

How Can Faculty Adapt Quickly Into the Hyflex Teaching Model?  

Dr. Berry firstly suggested the use of whiteboards and of course wearing masks to protect others. She also suggested having a set agenda of “what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it,” she said. Setting goals for the day and having a schedule allows for breaks which the students can step away, refresh, and maintain on track for the rest of class, she said.  Another important application is using the Zoom chat box for students to interact with each other and the professor. Dr. Berry suggested question and answer periods to help minimize distractions and constant scanning of the chatbox for questions. 

Dr. Chien, the host of the webinar, mentioned that she likes to have a team captain monitor the chat and also be the co-host in case she loses her internet. The use of team captain rotation, and regularly stopping for questions to check in with students are valuable tools. Ultimately, if the chatbox becomes too distracting or difficult to maintain there is the option to disable its use.  

Should Cameras Be Off or On?

At the beginning of class, establish wanting to have the students be visible on the camera, said Dr. Berry. When students have the camera turned on they are more likely to be engaged, share a personal appeal, have accountability of focusing, and most importantly, it creates a positive impact on learning. I think many students would agree that they feel more attentive and focused when the camera is on as they can’t easily slip away or play Mario Kart on their phones. 

“The more engagement opportunities the course has, the less opportunity you have for people to turn off their video or be passive,” said Dr. Berry. For example, make use of polls, have random questions that they need to respond to, and use breakout rooms for engagement.  

What is the Best Way to Teach on Zoom? 

For the past year, Dr. Berry has used the pre-COVID flipped classroom method and instead uses Zoom to work with her students rather than lecture the material.  “Flipped classroom is when students do a lot of the direct learning outside of the classroom and they come to the classroom ready for a discussion,” she explained. This method allows students to learn or review the material asynchronously at home and then come to class ready for discussion and work on the subject where they can easily ask questions and develop their understanding more in-depth. Dr. Berry explained that hyflex teaching opens the opportunity for asynchronous teaching and can offer more discussion being more manageable. 

Dr. Chien said it can be hard for students to read ahead for discussion. As an alternative, she likes to have group presentations to highlight the main topics of the chapter of the class or encourage other activities and reading. Other alternatives include annotated readings or online discussion boards to help facilitate early prep of readings, said Dr. Berry.  “Letting people know how you’re going to be using a reading and how we’re going to be accountable for it, I think can go a long way,” she said. 

Another alternative are stations. In the break-out rooms, the instructor has the opportunity to jump into them to meet with the students whereas the in-person students can have a different assignment separately. Zoom allows groups to be more interactive with one another. “Giving yourself a schedule and also giving your students those manageable activities makes it easier so that you don’t have to be in all those places at once,” she said. 

How Can Students Warm Up and Engage More? 

Linda Clayton, a financial planning professor at California Lutheran University, said she likes her students to know that the classroom is a safe place to talk. Since day one of class she sets an example to participate, calling on students to answer if her question is received in silence. She said now they answer by themselves and even alternate who does it.  

Other options to help students warm up to participate more is by using polls either via Zoom or Kahoot and the results can be shared in class allowing for further discussion. Students can also work in pairs where they can answer together on a google document. Alternatively, questions can be shared beforehand, “if you have your agenda, questions, and discussion points listed people who do get lost can easily jump in and people that might be nervous and need more time to think about it, they will have the opportunity,” Dr. Berry said. 

Final Recommendations 

“There’s no reason for your in-person students to not be engaged in the virtual space as well,” Dr. Berry said. In-person students can participate in the chat on Zoom with the other students. Let the students determine what they need through surveys and natural evolving to adapt the classroom and teaching methods. Lastly, Dr. Berry said, “the students always value the opportunity to talk to you and each other about how they’re feeling.” Discussions allow the students to feel stronger about the courses and more connected with each other. 

1142About Dr. Sharla Berry, Ph.D.:

Dr. Sharla Berry is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership. Her research explores technology in K-12 and higher education. Topics of interest include technology and college access and online learning in postsecondary environments. Dr. Berry teaches a number of research methods classes.

Chia-Li Chien, PhD, CFP®, PMP®About the Host:

Dr. Chia-Li Chien is a succession program director at Value Growth Institute, a succession consulting practice dedicated to helping business owners increase their firms’ equity value. Before her private consulting practice, she held several senior management positions in Fortune 500 companies. Dr. Chien is a director of the financial planning program at the School of Management at California Lutheran University. Dr. Chien is a frequent speaker about succession and retirement planning at national conferences and has published three award-winning books, including her most recent publication, “Enhancing Retirement Success Rates in the United States.” Dr. Chien serves on the boards of various national financial service associations. She holds a doctorate in financial planning and is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) as well as Project Management Professional (PMP®).

Rosie-7 (2)About the Writer:

Rosie Baker graduated Magna Cum Laude from California Lutheran University in May 2021 with honors and departmental distinction. Her bachelor’s degree is in Communication emphasizing in PR and Advertising, minoring in Creative Writing. In July 2020, she published her first book, Mirrors & Windows: Unlocking a New Framework to Envision Your Successwith New Degree Press.