The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has led into drastic changes in higher education.  Many courses are now offered online instead, or in addition to, face-to-face.  Courses can now be taken face-to-face in the classroom, following the lecture online synchronously, or watching the lecture video later generating an online asynchronous modality.  This “new” teaching is an adaptation of the older teaching modality termed HyFlex. 

These changes to courses have created numerous challenges for students and faculty.  While faculty have been struggling with transitioning courses online, the students have had their own struggles regarding motivation, managing assignment schedules, missing their classroom friends, worrying about getting sick, etc.  Here I discuss how students can still be successful in the HyFlex teaching and learn the same mastery of concepts, albeit the lesson delivery and assessments may be different.

Attendance

I can’t stress it enough, but attendance in classes is crucial.  Even if you have hard time focusing in the classroom or get easily distracted, you will still absorb something like a good sponge.  Your brain is working and processing the information being shared while making connections to the existing information in your brain.  Simply put, drag yourself to the classroom and you will be positively surprised.  To make even more out of your classroom experience, read the assigned readings and come to class prepared, ready to ask questions.  This way, at least, you will know what you do not know, making you a receptive student.  All of these suggestions apply also to online live attendance.  Turn off the old Grey’s Anatomy episode on Netflix and stop cooking the new couscous recipe you just found on Pinterest.  Focus on the lesson online and ask questions.

Watch Videos

Hey, there is a reason your professor records the lectures.  They are meant to be watched, and not at double speed.  One of the greatest benefits of HyFlex classes is that every single lesson is recorded.  Even if you were in the classroom or live on Zoom, still go back and watch the lessons again, at least when you are preparing for the exams.  This is especially important on some of the more challenging concepts as you can watch these parts over and over and over again.  Do a little refresher before taking the quiz after a class.

Notebook open with pen on top

Take Notes

Let’s say that you went to class in person and even watched the lecture video afterwards, is this all you need to do?  Did you take notes throughout the process? If you did not, you are missing out on one of the most important parts of learning a new concept.  Your note taking should start during your pre-lecture reading.  The note taking then continues during the class time as you are seeing what the main focus of the lesson is.  Finally, you can fill your notes after class while watching the recorded videos from the lesson.  But why can’t you just borrow your classmate’s notes?  There is no replacing of your own notes as you might simply have hard time understanding, or even reading, your friends notes.  You need the notes to reflect what is going in your, and not your friend’s, brain while you are learning.

Keep a Calendar

Probably the easiest way to fail a HyFlex class is to miss assignments.  It does not matter whether you know the content or not, if you are missing your assignments.  Your professor has designed learning activities and assessments based on the lessons and they are right there, literally at your fingertips, to be completed.  Most HyFlex classes employ online assignments and assessments so there really is no excuse for missing them.  You know when they are due based on the syllabus, lectures (and videos), notifications from you online course management system, and your personal calendar.  Keep a calendar of your assignment due dates for every class and update it often.  Try to not leave the assignments until last minute as something else coming up is often unavoidable.  You could keep a digital calendar or even an old-school calendar binder, which works great by the way (I use one).

Use Study Groups

Studying by yourself is great and you can really focus on your studies, but it is also easy to get distracted.  You will be checking your phone constantly, cleaning the kitchen drawer that is a mess, organizing your backpack, etc.  Sometimes a change of scenery is what you need.  Find a study buddy or a small group to meet together after you all have read the assigned readings.  You can quiz each other and explain the concepts to each other.  Once you can explain a complex process to someone, you truly have mastered the content.  Just make sure to keep the study groups small as too many people will start increasing the probability of losing focus and turning the study session into a social event.  Also, all of you should leave your phones at the door.

Female student wearing a mask while on laptop

Do Not Fall Behind

The worst thing you can do in a HyFlex class is to fall behind.  The assignments will keep on piling up, you are staying later and later every night studying and completing the assignments.  Then you will start to skip reading the text before class and finally you will miss assignments and lose points that way.  Keeping a good calendar and planning ahead is the key to maximizing your time management.

HyFlex classes are definitely a new way to learn for many of us, but they can also be extremely beneficial and success is possible as long as you attend the class, watch the videos, take notes, keep a calendar, use study groups, and never ever fall behind.

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