Engagement Strategies for Hybrid/HyFlex Courses

Post by Helena Prins, advisor, Learning + Teaching, BCcampus

HyFlex combines the terms hybrid and flexibleHybrid refers to teaching and learning that integrates face-to-face synchronous and online asynchronous learning experiences. HyFlex learning gives students flexibility and choice by allowing them to choose their participation path for each class, including face-to-face synchronous in the classroom, face-to-face via video conference (e.g., Zoom), and fully asynchronous. One significant challenge of developing hybrid and HyFlex courses is identifying activities for synchronous and asynchronous learning. On Friday, December 3, Briana Fraser and Mirabelle Tinio from Langara College took on the challenge of engagement strategies for hybrid and HyFlex courses during another well-attended FLO Friday session.

The two FLO facilitators drew a comparison between hybrid and HyFlex that may help those who are still confused about the differences:

Includes both face-to-face and online learning experiencesCombines hybrid and flexible
Online interactions can be either synchronous or asynchronous. Determined by the instructor and applies to all studentsSeeks to maximize learner choice, allowing students to choose how to participate each class
All students engage in the same online and face-to-face learning activitiesLearning outcomes are equivalent for all modes of participation Activities differ depending on mode.
Students do not have to travel to the face-to-face classroom as oftenArtifacts from learning activities in each mode are captured and can be reused in other modes
Learning activities are integrated to promote deeper learningStudents must be equipped with the technological resources and skills to equally access all participation modes. Universal Design for Learning principles are considered

As the facilitators explored what meaningful experiences have in common through a Zoom chat with the participants, it was clear that interaction and relationship were two common threads. Our FLO facilitators unpacked three types of interaction — student-to-instruction, student-to-student, and student-to-content — and the importance of alignment between learning outcomes, activities, and assessments.

How does alignment promote student learning?

  • Fosters deep learning, in contrast to the surface learning that can occur if students pay sole attention to (and learn) what they think they will be assessed on (Biggs 2003)
  • Helps to ensure balance in terms of assessment of learning outcomes (reduces gaps and over-assessment)
  • Promotes opportunities for self-assessment and feedback (on both teaching and learning)
  • Ensures teaching and learning goals and assessment practices are clear to students, helping them know what to focus on as well as how to demonstrate their learning

Mirabelle and Briana used a Jamboard for a collaborative activity to gather strategies that will engage synchronous online and face-to-face students. They offered these questions that could guide instructors in their creation of engagement activities:

  • What do you want students to be able to do, know, or value as a result of taking your class?
  • What learning activities or assessments will provide students with opportunities to develop or demonstrate achievement of course learning outcomes?
  • Which of these learning activities or assessments would best suit an online format, and which ones would suit a face-to-face format?
  • What evidence do you have that learning has occurred?
  • Are all students able to engage in all three types of interaction?

The big takeaways for participants from this FLO Friday were:

  • Increase instructor presence.
  • Cultivate course relationships.
  • Ensure interactions.
  • Remember to give online students opportunities to contribute.

Mirabelle’s biggest learning from the facilitation experience was the need for more support and opportunities for dialogue and collaboration among instructors who are interested in HyFlex and hybrid courses. As instructors learn to design effective hybrid/HyFlex courses, they also face a call to further clarify expectations of students and provide them with guidance on which modes will better suit their learning needs. Briana commented that the FLO participants’ enthusiasm and engagement perfectly suited the topic and demonstrated the strengths of active learning. By carefully crafting interaction and explicit instructions, hybrid and HyFlex instructors can build active and inclusive learning environments.

If you would like to view the recording of the session, you can! 

Don’t miss out on our upcoming HyFlex in Action Event – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Register now!


Biggs, John. (2003). Aligning Teaching for Constructing Learning

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