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The ACE 
Framework

A guide for decision-making and professional development planning during times of crisis.

Four Models for HiFlex Course Design

When we talk about HiFlex Course Design, we are generally talking about offering a course in multiple modalities, usually for students who are physically present in the classroom and simultaneously for those who are remote/online. Development of these courses can, understandably, feel overwhelming for faculty; in fact, it can feel like every course has to be designed twice, and on any given day, faculty may have to switch modalities for specific students, depending upon whether they can be physically present. 

Below, we’ve attempted to outline an alternative approach to designing HiFlex courses. Baked into our models are the following principles. 

  • Overall, the practice is summarized as “Design once, for online, and use any other time, space, or opportunities to flexibly interact with and augment the online course approach.”
  • Every model incorporates intentional planning and design for the best use of online and f2f opportunities. 
  • During Fall 2020 as COVID19 concerns continue on our campuses, the determining factor about when students attend f2f may be dictated by room sizes and administrative policies; the models attempt to work within potential complications of realities and policies.
  • One of the strong advantages to this approach is that if campuses find themselves having to shut down early again, by focusing on a strong online course presence (built into each model), you will already be prepared for a second pivot. 
  • Finally, these are NOT meant to be comprehensive. Instead, imagine these models along a continuum of opportunity. Your challenge is to determine where your courses could fit between and among the proposals.  

We’ve summarized the four models in an infographic which you can download as a PNG or PDF

In this model, you would design your class for primarily online delivery but set aside any chance you have for f2f meetings to meet/teach students in small groups (based loosely on the British tutorial system) in which you and students dive into questions, further discussion, and work review.

Online Design

  • all course materials  available to students without them having to meet with you f2f (could be online, could be course textbook/pack, could be something else)
  • consider recording/sharing short video/audio/transcripts of you introducing concepts and ideas
  • student work completed (using tools available to them) and shared with you (via tools/spaces that don’t require f2f interaction)
  • virtual space for both formal/structured, scheduled conversations as well as for informal discussion and interaction

f2f Design

You would be available to meet with students individually or in small groups to discuss topics, answer questions, review work.

  • If class meets f2f, this can happen with a small subset of students (½ one day, ½ another; ⅓ for 25 minutes, etc.)
  • If class doesn’t meet f2f or goes online, you hold these office hours through other means (Zoom, Teams video, phone calls, etc). 
  • When necessary and possible, you ask students to summarize any takeaways, answers to questions, etc. from these “office hours” and share them with the rest of the class (could be written notes, short video/audio recording, or something else)

In this model, you would design a class for primarily online delivery, but set aside any f2f opportunities for students to work (with your presence/input) on specific group work or projects. This model is particularly good if you rely on significant group-based activities in your class.

Online Design

  • all course materials  available to students without them having to meet with you f2f (could be online, could be course textbook/pack, could be something else)
  • consider recording/sharing short video/audio/transcripts of you introducing concepts and ideas
  • student work completed (using tools available to them) and shared with you (via tools/spaces that don’t require f2f interaction)
  • some space would exist for both formal/structured, scheduled conversations as well as for informal discussion and interaction
  • you and your students would discuss and decide upon what tools could be used to facilitate group work/meetings (for between f2f meetings or if course goes fully online)

 

 

 

f2f Design

Any f2f time available to the class can be used to facilitate group work.

  • divvy up class time based upon number/size of groups, ensuring that room occupancy is low and social distancing rules are followed.
  • be on hand to weigh in on questions that arise, advise students on project plans, and intervene to address any difficulties
  • consider to successfully “mix” students who are able to be present f2f with those who prefer to (or who must) remain at a distance.
  • When mixing f2f and remote students isn’t feasible, have students summarize what was covered in group meetings and share it with one another via pre-determined online channels.
  • If the class ultimately goes online, students pick up with group work via online tools that they’ve already discussed and begun to use.

This model is for courses that involve lab activities or hands-on work. Online methods are used for anything that can be facilitated virtually, and f2f sessions are preserved for the work that demands physical presence. There is also an emphasis on “front-loading” the term with critical hands-on work in discrete modules

Online Design

  • all course materials  available to students without them having to meet with you f2f (could be online, could be course textbook/pack, could be something else)
  • consider recording/sharing short video/audio/transcripts of you introducing concepts and ideas
  • student work completed (using tools available to them) and shared with you (via tools/spaces that don’t require f2f interaction)
  • some space would exist for both formal/structured, scheduled conversations as well as for informal discussion and interaction
  • move any activity that was previously hands-on and could now be done virtually to online delivery

f2f Design

When designing the class, clearly identify any activities that you believe should ideally be completed in person. Think critically about these choices; it’s tempting (and understandable) to believe that f2f is better for everything. Your job is to identify the most essential pieces that you would prefer happen f2f. 

  • since you may have to divide your class into smaller groups to meet f2f, shorten activities so they can fit into smaller periods of time
  • create modules early in the term that pack the f2f activities in the beginning, just in case f2f campus time is cut short. This will probably mean creatively re-sequencing the content and flow of your course.
  • since there are no guarantees that you (or all of your students) will be able to meet f2f for all the activities you identify, design a backup activity/assignment that students can complete virtually or from home. Focus on  critical learning objectives and consider creative ways students can still meet those, even if f2f presence is not possible. 
  • find ways for students who are f2f to record/report upon the work they’ve done and share it with those who aren’t physically present.

This model is the most flexible and open-ended of the four; your goal as an instructor is not to design a full-fledged semester of material, activities, and assessments. Rather, your goal is to work with your class to design and become a learning community, working collaboratively and individually towards your determined learning goals. 

For this to work you should have: 

  • a set of possible/preferred learning objectives for your class
  • a library of course materials, preferably with as much as possible in digital format
  • a suggested list of digital tools and technologies that you’re comfortable from with 
  • a list of possible assignment/project/assessment ideas that are related to your learning objectives
  • a willingness to experiment and invite your students into the teaching & learning process. 

At the onset of class you will need to facilitate a conversation among you and your students about how the class will unfold. This can be done in small groups f2f, via an online communication tool, or in a hybrid mix of both. As a community you should plan on addressing the following: 

  • what are our objectives as a learning community? 
  • what kind of work could we engage in to meet these objectives? 
  • what physical/virtual spaces would we like to work in? how/when do we want to meet in these spaces?
  • how do we want to measure (assess) if an objective has been met?
  • what rules and policies should govern our work? how will we work virtually and respect everyone’s boundaries and personal situations? how will we work f2f and respect public health recommendations and personal situations? 

You will probably need to spend at least the first 1-2 weeks answering these questions together and then designing a plan for your course. Make sure you and your students talk through various complications: 

  • what if the university’s policies about meeting f2f change? 
  • what if classes are forced to move entirely virtual/remote? 
  • what someone (students or professor!) gets sick?

ACE Baked In

At face value, these models clearly intersect with the ACE HiFlex Course Design practice, but it’s important to consider how all of the ACE values can infuse your design approach: 

  • Adaptability: consider both HiFlex and Module Course Scheduling as tools for building your own course course model. When possible, infuse them with student choice and flexibility.
  • Connection: Each of these models asks you to think deliberately about what spaces, tools, and technologies you can use to create community within your course, across online and f2f  interactions. 
  • Equity: As we prepare for Fall 2020, remember our goal to teach and reach students, regardless of barriers. Your intentional design of an online course with f2f inflections is a way to offer students the kind of access they require during complicated and complex times.