Hybrid Fluxed #01: The Semester of Hybrid Flexible Teaching (And Learning!)

As some may know, I just finished another Master's Degree (that's #3 for those that are counting).  My final project for said degree was to develop a hybrid flexible course for an American Literature I course that I've been teaching for a while now.  

What is Hybrid Flexible Pedagogy?

There are other definitions such as Dr. Brian Betty's work that has influenced my thoughts on understanding hybrid flexible but here's my stab at defining it:

Hybrid flexible pedagogy seeks to maximize the amount of choice (i.e. flexibility) for students within a given course (or even program, ultimately), with regards to class format (online vs. face to face), content (learning resources), and evaluation.  

That's the best definition I can come up with.  So what that has mean for my course is that I've developed a course in which students can take the course entirely face-to-face, entirely online, or move back and forth between the face-to-face course and the online course in any given week. 

I came to create this from y experience with teaching evening classes.  These classes meet once a week and if a student misses a class, they are likely to fall seriously behind.  In my experience, students in evening class often miss class for serious reasons (or at least more often than not).  Often, it's because their life has gone into crisis mode (sometimes small, sometimes really big).  Thus, they hit obstacles in life and missing class only adds to it.  So I thought about what could be done so that they could potentially be caught up to speed by the start of the next class.  That led me down the road of hybrid flexible pedagogy.  

Online and Face-To-Face

The course as it stands now, ready to launch entails students coming to the physical classroom and engaging in different activities around the course content or going online and moving through activities that should be similar to the face-to-face activities.  To make sure for this balance, I have create a series of videos (narrated powerpoints) for students to view.  The full playlist of videos for the course has been put on Youtube.  What I like about this part is that students can attend the face-to-face but also benefit from the online content for reinforcement and further clarification.  

Choices Abound

Coupled with the above format, I have also pushed to develop the resources so that students can choose what readings they want to read for any given week out of a larger selection of readings.  One benefit I have with doing this with American Literature I is that all of the works I want to use are in the public domain.  So rather than assigning a textbook with everyone reading the same text, I have provided 5-10 readings for a given week and have students choose which ones to read (requiring a certain page amount read).  Coupled with this, I have expanded choice in terms of their assignments and what they can write about or the different ways they can do an assignment.  For instance, their final project they have several different choices including a traditional final essay, a Wikipedia entry, making a Librivox recording or even, pitching their own final project.  

Particularly around courses that students have little to no choice in taking, it makes sense to provide them with some opportunities to express their preference and choice.  However, I also thought about how this concept worked perfectly with some of the themes of American Literature and how it is a continually attempt to widen choice and opportunity (a focal point for a good deal of our readings).  

Where Do We Go From Here?
This is a just a brief introduction to what I'm doing.  I plan on writing and reflecting about the experience here on the blog and also providing materials and updates for people that are interested in creating this format as we move forward.

If you would like further information, please contact me, Lance Eaton.

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