Preparing for the Fall: Flames Flex Instruction

During the last year, the majority of UIC’s courses have been held as either online asynchronous or synchronous, and some as  hybrid courses — a mix of in-person instruction and online content delivered synchronously or asynchronously. Now, UIC is planning to have as many students as possible back on campus while providing them the flexibility to join remotely as needed. This new learning model is called on-campus blended synchronous instruction.

Providing a flexible learning experience to students requires creative, multimodal solutions to support equitable student engagement. There are multiple ways to do this, and the literature is full of definitions and terms to describe flexible course designs. Below are some answers applicable to UIC’s on-campus blended synchronous instruction for Fall 2021.

What is on-campus blended synchronous instruction?

On-campus blended synchronous instruction is UIC’s flexible learning model in which on-campus and remote students synchronously attend a class and participate in-class activities. Additionally, lectures are recorded and made available to students for on-demand use.

What technology supports on-campus blended instruction at UIC?

UIC classrooms are being equipped with Echo360 technology and improved network connectivity to support recording and live streaming. In some cases, the classroom is too small to allow for additional technology to be added permanently, and in those instances, portable solutions such as laptops and microphones will be made available centrally or at the department or college level.

Depending on the classroom, instructors will have access to Echo360 lecture capture and streaming capabilities from hardware installed, or access to their choice of web-based applications such as Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, or Panopto. Each of these technologies integrate with Blackboard, UIC’s Learning Management System. The recordings created with these tools can be automatically placed in course sites for students to access.

If you are interested in getting a sense of which technologies might be available to you, join CATE at the Preparing for Flames Flex Instruction kickoff meetings on May 13 and 14. Learn more and register here:

Is blended synchronous instruction the same as HyFlex?

Blended synchronous instruction can be considered a variation of HyFlex, which refers to a course design model that presents the components of hybrid learning in a flexible course structure giving students the option of attending sessions in the classroom, participating in the online version of the course, or both. Students can change their mode of attendance weekly or by topic, according to their needs or preference. Courses built on the HyFlex model help to break down the boundary between the virtual classroom and the physical one, thus encouraging discussions to flow easily between the virtual and physical classroom. HyFlex courses require a lot of planning, instructional design, and particular classroom technologies.

Am I supposed to use HyFlex this Fall?

UIC classrooms are outfitted with different levels of technology, so we do not envision many courses being able to run in this mode for fall. Some instructors might consider using aspects of HyFlex such as a flexible attendance policy (e.g., allowing students to choose whether to attend class online in real-time or in-person). But it is also reasonable to design a course with a more structured attendance approach. Overall, with proper preparation and a willingness to be flexible, the classroom technology at UIC will allow instructors to use on-campus blended synchronous instruction successfully this fall.

Where can I get more information about on-campus blended and other modalities of instruction? Join us at CATE’s Summer Institute where we will discuss possibilities for your course and classroom:

Learn More:

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