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Hybrid, Hyflex, and Online Live Learning Modalities

by Diana Vera-Alba, OTAN Subject Matter Expert

In the last ten years, Distance Education has evolved into various modes of instructional delivery that have increased our students' Digital Literacy skills and provided thousands upon thousands of adult students the opportunity to attend classes in flexible modalities that have addressed their changing needs. Educators and students benefit from the flexibility of the various learning modalities that are now available for adult education programs to adopt. Preparation is key to the success of these innovative and engaging learning environments. In this article, you will learn about the characteristics that differentiate the Hybrid, HyFlex, and Online Live learning modalities and some tips to assist you in preparing for, planning, and implementing these innovative modes of instruction.

Hybrid Learning Modality

Hybrid courses (also known as Partially Online) combine both in-person and online class components. OTAN’s Adult Education Digital Learning Guidance defines the Hybrid Learning Model as the “learning experiences that utilize digital or online learning tools, but digital learning and face-to-face instruction are not connected”. The Hybrid learning format requires students to attend classes in a mix of in-person and remote, fully online participation. The expectation is that students will engage in both learning modalities and attendance is often counted for each modality separately. Hybrid courses offer students the advantage of collaborating with fellow students and teachers in the face-to-face classroom as well as learning and practicing important digital literacy skills using various online tools and platforms.

HyFlex Learning Modality

The HyFlex learning modality allows students the most flexibility in study mode. HyFlex is a blend of hybrid and flexible instruction. Students can join the scheduled class session online live by signing into a video conferencing tool or participating on campus in the classroom. There is classwork that can be completed online in a learning management system (LMS) or the face-to-face classroom. As addressed in the Adult Education Digital Learning Guidance the HyFlex model grants students the choice, at each class session, to attend their course face-to-face or online, either synchronously or asynchronously.

Online Live Learning Modality

Classes offered in the Online Live learning modality are synchronous online courses where the teacher and students interact online simultaneously. Students meet with their instructor synchronously online during scheduled class times via a video conferencing tool and coursework is completed by the student asynchronously in a learning management system (LMS). Online Live courses are often engaging as experienced online instructors can provide students the opportunity to engage in whole-class instruction as well as collaborate in small groups via private online rooms available in most video conferencing tools.

Planning and Implementing the Hybrid, HyFlex, and Online Live Teaching Environments

Preparing for the Hybrid, HyFlex, and Online Live learning modalities involves creating a conducive environment that seamlessly integrates either in-person, online components, or a combination of the two depending on the modality requirements. Some key considerations teachers and school districts should consider include:

Digital Literacy Training:

Ensuring that teachers and students are well-versed in using digital tools and platforms. This includes proficiency in video conferencing tools, learning management systems (LMS), and other collaborative online platforms.

Interactive Content Creation:

Equip teachers with the skills to create engaging and interactive digital content. This might involve using multimedia elements, interactive quizzes, and other online resources to enhance students’ learning experience.

Communication Skills:

Effective communication is crucial in a Hybrid, HyFlex, and Online Live learning environment. Teachers should be adept at conveying information clearly through online channels and fostering a sense of community among students, both in-person and online.

Flexibility and Adaptability:

The Hybrid, HyFlex, and Online Live learning models may require quick adjustments based on the learning needs and circumstances of the students. Teachers should be flexible in adapting their lesson plans, instructional methods, and assessment strategies as needed.

Technical Support:

Ensure that teachers have access to technical support and an understanding of how to troubleshoot basic technical glitches in the absence of immediate assistance. This can range from basic troubleshooting to more complex issues related to online tools, helping to minimize disruptions during the student’s learning process.

Assessment Strategies:

Develop fair and effective assessment strategies that accommodate both in-person and online learners. This might involve a mix of traditional assessments and online assessments tailored to the digital environment.

Student Engagement:

Explore ways to maintain high levels of student engagement in both settings. This could involve incorporating collaborative projects, discussion forums, and other interactive elements into the online learning experience.

Data Privacy and Security:

Emphasize the importance of maintaining student data privacy and online security. Teachers should be aware of best practices and guidelines for handling sensitive information in the online environment.

Regular Professional Development:

Continuous learning is key. Provide ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers to stay updated on emerging educational technologies, teaching methodologies, and effective strategies for Hybrid, HyFlex, or Online Live learning.

Feedback Mechanisms:

Establish clear feedback mechanisms for both teachers and students. This can include regular check-ins, surveys, and assessments to gauge the effectiveness of the Hybrid, HyFlex, or Online Live learning models and make timely and necessary adjustments.

By addressing these aspects, teachers can be better prepared to offer a seamless and effective learning experience in either Hybrid, HyFlex, or Online Live learning modalities, catering to the diverse needs of students in both physical and virtual environments.


Fordham University Online Learning

OTAN - Adult Education Digital Learning Guidance

SDCCD Types of Distance Education Courses

Stanford University Teaching Commons

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Hybrid HyFlex and Online Live Learning Modalities

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.