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Instructional Methods: HyFlex Teaching


While higher education institutions offered hybrid-flexible (HyFlex) course formats prior to the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing shift to remote teaching and learning sped up the adoption of this modality that combines face-to-face and online learning. Largely in response to student demand and administrative initiatives, colleges and universities across the country have either adopted or are investigating formal HyFlex course options.

Definitions of HyFlex (variously known also as “Hyflex,” “Hybrid-Flexible,” or simply “Flex”) courses vary across institutions and contexts, however,  a recent open-access book that addresses implementations around the world generally defines HyFlex as “multi-modal courses which combine online and onground (classroom-based) students” (Beatty, 2020, p. 8). In HyFlex courses, enrolled students have the option to attend class in-person, online synchronously, or online asynchronously. While not used universally, the term “polysynchronous” has also been used to describe “the integration of learner-learner, learner-content and learner-teacher interaction through a blending of multiple channels of face to face, asynchronous online and synchronous online communication” (Dalgarno, 2014).


Beatty, B. (2019). Hybrid-Flexible Course Design (1st ed.). EdTech Books.

Dalgarno, B. (2014). Polysynchronous learning: A model for student interaction and engagement. In B. Hegarty, J. McDonald, & S. K. Loke (Eds.), Rhetoric and Reality: Critical Perspectives on Educational Technology (pp. 673–677).


Successful hybrid-flexible teaching requires careful planning and implementation to meet the diverse needs of students. Here are five key strategies for achieving success:

Clear Learning Objectives and Outcomes

  • Begin by defining clear learning objectives for your course. What do you want students to learn, and what skills should they develop? Align assessments and activities with these objectives.
  • Clearly communicate these objectives to students so they understand what is expected of them in both the in-person and online components of the course.

Flexible Course Design

  • Develop a flexible course structure that allows students to choose between in-person and online participation, depending on their preferences and circumstances.
  • Utilize the variety of engagement options, such as discussion forums, live video sessions, and asynchronous content delivery that are available in Blackboard.

Engagement and Interaction

  • Foster engagement in both the in-person and online environments. Use active learning techniques, group discussions, and peer interactions to keep students engaged.
  • Incorporate technology tools like virtual breakout rooms, collaborative documents, and polling software to facilitate interaction in both settings.

Equity and Accessibility

  • Ensure that all students have equal access to course materials and activities, regardless of their chosen mode of participation.
  • Provide alternative formats for content, captions for videos, and accessible online resources. Be responsive to students' accessibility needs and offer support when necessary.

Assessment and Feedback

  • Rethink your assessment strategies to accommodate both in-person and online students. Consider a mix of formative and summative assessments that cater to different learning environments.
  • Provide timely and constructive feedback to help students improve their performance, regardless of whether they attend in person or online.

Additionally, it's crucial to remain adaptable and open to feedback from students. The hybrid-flexible teaching model may require adjustments throughout the semester to address emerging challenges and ensure the best possible learning experience for all students. Regularly seeking student input and making necessary modifications will contribute to the overall success of your hybrid-flexible course.


HyFlex Teaching Guide - Barnard Center for Engaged Teaching
General guidelines and suggestions


Barclay, A., Clarke, K., Domonchuk, N., Hayman, J., Shapiro, S., Singh, J., & Young, M. (2022). HyFlex Course Design and Teaching Strategies.

Beatty, B. (2019). Hybrid-Flexible Course Design (1st ed.). EdTech Books.

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