The pandemic put a spotlight on glaring equity gaps in higher education--but the HyFlex model could help eliminate some disparities.

3 ways HyFlex and virtual models help ensure equity


The pandemic put a spotlight on glaring equity gaps in higher education--but the HyFlex model could help eliminate some disparities

Before the pandemic upended normal routines, different learning modalities, such as online and hybrid or HyFlex, weren’t readily available on a large scale at most institutions.

But with the rapid shift to online learning came a more widespread realization that students need–and deserve–flexibility in the way they learn. Classrooms that were optimized for in-person learning received quick makeovers with additional screens, cameras, and AV tools to make pandemic learning a reality.

And while educators and students were lauded for their ability to adapt and continue teaching and learning, the pandemic also put a brighter spotlight on existing inequities across higher education.

During an EDUCAUSE 2021 session, educators at four institutions discussed how the pandemic changed some of their practices, confirmed the need for others that already existed, and explored equitable practices for the future.

  1. Faculty training plays a critical role in HyFlex learning and equity

“Utah State University had a lot of experience doing classroom-to-classroom high-end broadcasting prior to Covid. Going into the pandemic, we felt pretty good about our experience, but going to Zoom, and then last fall when teachers were in the classroom with some students in person and some students on Zoom, we started to notice some inequity in teaching and learning,” said Kevin Reeve, director for Academic and Instructional Services at Utah State University. “Training faculty plays a critical role.”

“We realized early on we couldn’t just tell faculty to go teach the way they teach, because that remote student experience wouldn’t be a great one,” said Melissa Koenig, director of Instructional Technology for the Center for Teaching & Learning at DePaul University. “We realized we needed to provide faculty with opportunities to get training and to learn from each other. We also realized we needed to provide support.” The university hired students to be faculty assistants in the virtual space, because it soon became clear that trying to teach face-to-face, teach virtually, and manage an in-person and an online classroom was too much for one educator alone.

Laura Ascione