The future of hybrid international education – FE News | Team Cansler

Long before Covid-19 forced institutions to teach from computer screens, recorded lectures and online assessment methods were already an integral part of many courses.

International students today are seeking more choice and flexibility in where and when they study – they expect to be able to access higher-quality education abroad from anywhere, anytime, and in any way they choose.

What is HyFlex learning?

The Hybrid Flexible (HyFlex) model is an instructional program that combines face-to-face and online instruction. The courses are determined by the lecturer; However, students have the choice to study in different modalities at the time of learning (online or remote). Generally, students can choose how to engage with the material in a way that best suits their learning style, but regardless of how they choose to participate, they must all have equal access to course materials, faculty and their peers .

An example of HyFlex would be as follows: a student may want to complete a Pathway program at a study center near them – with a mix of online and face-to-face classes – and then possibly choose to study at a UK university. HyFlex would allow them to complete the first semester of their degree online in their home country before traveling to the UK to complete it.

The Hyflex model therefore allows students to prepare for their degree at home without having to spend money on living expenses abroad.

The further development of HyFlex

The HyFlex teaching model resembles a blended classroom environment—namely, a classroom with added technology to facilitate distance learning. The key difference is that HyFlex also offers full asynchronous access to course content. This allows students true autonomy over where, when and how they engage with their course, making study more accessible and inclusive.

Any institution wishing to adopt the Hyflex approach to learning will inevitably follow the same path. Usually, the newcomers arrive at point A: often basic equipment that allows video connection between classroom and student, but no integration and lectures are not automatically uploaded to a platform. Because course content cannot be accessed asynchronously, this early phase is not considered a “true” HyFlex model.

If point A is the starting point of the HyFlex journey, point B is the desired destination. An institution that has arrived at point B has all the necessary digital infrastructure to offer a course with a variety of learning modes, without privileging one mode over another. Classrooms are equipped with live recording capabilities, instructor tracking software and studio quality microphones.

This is coupled to a fully integrated learning management platform where lectures can be automatically uploaded and retrieved asynchronously. Additionally, live chat rooms and video links allow students to connect directly with their teachers and peers from anywhere.

Currently, most institutions with HyFlex components fall somewhere between A and B. Many already have classroom and meeting software and processes that help integrate face-to-face and online learning services, but they limit student access and engagement.

Those wishing to adopt the Hyflex approach need to ensure that instructional standards are built into the course design of each hybrid program, meaning that they need to have sufficient face-to-face instruction – either online or in-person – and that the quality of learning and assessment is right up front and in the Center.

The question then is simple – how do they provide a full HyFlex experience?

To reach this stage, institutions must establish a clear strategy for continued technology adoption that takes into account the current facility, future goals, and the institution’s financial constraints. The best way to start this process is for decision makers to ask a simple question: What do you want classrooms to look like in five years’ time?

For example, AI technologies will play an important role in both online and physical learning. Machine learning lends itself particularly well to HyFlex by enhancing the polymodal approach. Institutions can profile each student to better understand how they can provide courses for them. While this is not an exact science – student preferences may change over time – it will ensure a more inclusive environment. This means that “classrooms” in the traditional sense are becoming a mix of shared student experience and individual learning, requiring a careful balance to maintain the student experience while tailoring learning to each student’s needs.

The use of AI can also facilitate approval. Students could be screened to determine what type of course offering suits them best before they enroll and evaluate how much time the student should spend studying remotely versus on-campus, using data points from progressing graduates will. Trying to identify a student’s needs from the lecture hall or virtual classroom can be challenging – algorithms could provide university staff with a student profile that includes everything they need from day one.

successful models

HyFlex works well for early adopters. In China, for example, ongoing Covid measures have resulted in travel bans and center closures, delaying English exams, causing significant disruption for those who had applied for UK visas – a perfect example of HyFlex, um Intervene – Students benefit from studying abroad and can do so remotely (either at home or at a local study center) until they are allowed to travel – on arrival they simply pick up where they left off.

Innovations in online learning are empowering student choices more than ever. HyFlex can enable a larger and more diverse number of students to receive a quality education anywhere. The benefits for institutions are great, but they must address the steep investment and learning curve by planning an effective implementation strategy and combining a solid curriculum with a robust technological infrastructure to be successful.

Likewise, students must be comfortable trading flexibility for added responsibility in order to thrive in a remote learning environment. However, the future of HyFlex will likely see institutions adopt a more “global campus” approach, with study centers around the world to address many of the mental and logistical challenges that this future study arrangement may pose.

By Steve Pinches, Chief Product Officer, Study Group

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