A new way of teaching classes has established itself at Las Positas. Hyflex, or hybrid-flexible, classes have started to become common practice this year.
Hyflex classes allow students to attend classes in-person or through Zoom depending on their personal circumstances. If a student can’t come to class for any reason, they can still attend and contribute to their classes via Zoom.
While participating in-person, one may hear a student who’s taking the class from outside the classroom, whether it be at home or at a coffee shop.
For those exploring the more flexible option, they are able to see and hear their professor and classmates as they navigate the classroom.
Hyflex’s main purpose is to adapt to the current ongoing effects of the pandemic. Considering how COVID-19 displaced many families, the option to livestream class from any location will encourage students to maintain their studies.
To collect data regarding just how many students found hyflex essential, a survey was conducted for students who attended hyflex classes in the spring of 2022. 92 of the 106 participants took one hyflex class that semester, 13 took two hyflex classes and only one student took three hyflex classes.
75% of the participating students liked their experiences when taking these courses. Almost the majority of students felt very connected with the content of the classes and their professors.
When asked why, most of the participants explained that they liked the freedom that hyflex offers and that they prefer in-person over asynchronous classes because it favors their circumstances.
Santoyo is a student who attends political science professor Joanna Tice Jen’s hyflex class through Zoom.
Due to a family member being immunocompromised, Santoyo cannot physically be in class, so hyflex has proven to be beneficial for her situation.
“I’m super grateful for the flexibility that hyflex classes have given me,” Raquel Santoyo, a first-year LPC student, said.
“It’s great to be in control of my education by taking Hyflex. I’m able to decide when and where I am able to attend class.”
Similarly, Jen accounted for having a positive experience both when training for hyflex and teaching it. As hyflex classes were promoted, faculty members were trained in-person, through Zoom or they were able to watch the recordings if they couldn’t attend.
“My personal experience has been very good,” Jen said.
“The one hyflex class I’m teaching has one person on Zoom and the rest of the class come in person.”
Jen said, in a way, she taught hyflex before she was trained how to do it.“Last semester, I told people I will run a zoom meeting in the class even while I was teaching in-person,” Jen said.
Though Jen shared sunny dispositions regarding the modernized style of teaching, not all staff agree.
According to Jen, she’s heard from other faculty members about their bad experiences with hyflex courses. Students would stop coming to class in-person when they are able to, and by the end of the semester, there’s very few students who come in-person and the rest are on Zoom.
Though hyflex classes give students more mobility, faculty don’t have the same privilege.
Unlike students, faculty members can’t host classes from home and would have to cancel classes until they recover from their personal and health situations.
“Flexibility is a two-way street,” Daniel Cearley, an anthropology professor, said.
“We can extend that flexibility to everyone else like ‘Okay, this week, we’re online’ and it raises more flexibility for us because we can still have our content on Canvas.”
Ultimately, Cearley is still debating about officially teaching a hyflex class, though he took the hyflex training to see if it would be right for him.
In addition to the lack of flexibility given to faculty, professors also have trouble acknowledging all of the different types of audiences they are teaching to. To curb this issue, faculty members have to manage different strategies and methods to include all audiences and keep them in class.
“It is extra work because I have to set up all this extra technology and then I forget about the students on Zoom,” Jen said.
“I look at my notes, my presentations and I don’t see their faces on Zoom.”
Jen argued that it’s difficult to have the passion, emotion and humor that she normally brings to class, especially when teaching synchronously in which students may have their cameras off.
“You have people in class, so it’s very easy to overly focus on them,” professor Daniel Cearley said. “At the same time, you have to recognize that there’s people who are going to view the recording later on.”
The cost of equipment is another element for professors conducting hyflex courses and meetings. That remains a barrier for both professors and students.
“You have to invest a lot in technology, both on the school side and student side, and those still remain barriers,” Cearley said. “We know that during the pandemic, students came onto our campus and parked in our parking lot just to get a good internet connection.”
While professors and students may experience obstacles with hyflex classes, the feedback shows that most students will consider taking hyflex classes in the future, as the convenience and effectiveness factors may be attractive to prospective students.
Gibran Beydoun is a copy editor for The Express. Follow him @Gibran580MSCM.