In a few short weeks, I’ll be starting my virtual fall 2020 semester, something I never thought I would say.
As a student at University of Wisconsin-Madison who spent most of my spring semester online, I realized that it is difficult to create an in-person experience through a 12” x 12” screen. A virtual fall 2020 semester means another round of video lessons, Zoom classes and online discussions, tests and quizzes. This fall will be a little different, though. I will be taking a “HyFlex” learning approach.
“HyFlex” or hybrid, flexible learning, involves students taking turns attending socially-distanced classrooms and watching online. This model of learning really allows for a personalized experience. I had the opportunity in the spring to experiment with different online learning tactics, so now going into the fall I know how to embrace it. I will have a flexible learning and viewing schedule consisting of both synchronous and asynchronous online classes and some in-person discussion.
It’s impossible to exactly replicate an in-person classroom in an online environment, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe embracing a virtual learning environment is an opportunity to individually engage students in a sea of thousands attending school this fall.
What’s in store for my new normal…
I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the University of Wisconsin Madison’s School of Journalism program and I plan on pursuing a strategic communication track. The first semester of the program requires an eight credit bootcamp-like course to get familiar with the different platforms and practices surrounding the major. I was already mentally prepared for the class to be difficult, but without in-person instruction, I will have to take some extra steps to make sure I can achieve good grades while also taking advantage of all the online resources available.
I will have half synchronous and half asynchronous classes this upcoming semester. I personally prefer the asynchronous classes so that I can watch my lectures at my own pace and stop/start while taking notes. For synchronous lectures, I will assume a recording will be available on-demand.
Student relations will certainly be different when it comes to working together on group projects or discussions. Online learning will require patience because students are able to work at their own pace instead of always having to conform to group standards.
As far as extra steps go to take matters into my own hands, what worked well for me best in the spring was sticking to a routine — waking up around the same time every day, pouring a cup of coffee, and sitting down to get to work. Also creating a study schedule that works with other activities and class times will be super helpful. For me, creating a routine is the best way to ensure success with my academic life.
Online Learning with HyFlex
Dr. Rebecca Frazee is an instructor at San Diego State University and manager of FLEXspace.org, the Flexible Learning Environments eXchange. She recently presented a webinar about “hyFlex” that I found very interesting.
Every college student is completely different in their online learning environments, whether they are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners. I learned the “hyflex” model really helps to personalize your learning to best suit you in a virtual learning environment. It allows for students to stop, start, rewind, fast forward, and engage with video in a way that best suits their learning style wherever they are. All students could stand to benefit from this. It’s all about making learning environments work best for what you need.
FLEXspace, by the way, is a resource for classroom design ideas. There are tactical tips for faculty and instructional designers to prepare for hyflex learning.
I can’t speak for every student, but we certainly should be prepared for the hybrid semester ahead, and the best way to do that is to go in with an optimistic mindset and our best feet forward!