Head of College Secondary Program celebrates the success of the HYFLEX learning model


Sarah Scali, Head of the Secondary Program at Columbia College, is celebrating the successful ongoing implementation of the HYFLEX learning model during the Fall semester. Secondary Program Instructors have demonstrated incredible adaptability and dedication in shifting to this new approach for flexible education, perfectly suited to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. The multiple ways that Instructors have adapted this unique approach to education is an inspiration for everyone at the College.  

Sarah shares that the core purpose of the approach is to give students access to equivalent learning experiences whether they are in-person in a class, engaging in synchronous (live online) or asynchronous (pre-recorded) learning  (FLEX).

“There are pros and cons to each mode of delivery: in-person and synchronous learning provides human connection, access to body language, individual and immediate assistance, and conversational interaction. FLEX learning allows students to pace themselves, be more reflective when not having to think or respond in the moment and participate online if they are unable to physically be in the classroom.”  Sarah Scali, Head of Secondary Program, Columbia College 

What does the HYFLEX approach look like?  

HYFLEX is a blended approach to teaching and learning that can combine in-class discussion and activities with a considerable proportion of online course delivery as needed. If done well, HYFLEX type courses can combine the best of online and in person pedagogy, improve student learning and provide flexibility for students who are unable to attend in person.  

The intention is for students to be able to seamlessly shift between attending class in person, joining in synchronously online, or catching the class asynchronously later. It also allows for fluidity from day to day if their situation changes (for example if a student is required to self-isolate for 14 days, shows symptoms of Covid and is asked to stay home or the Ministry changes the Provinces’ Stage of delivery).  

HYFLEX courses are one of the best ways to ensure academic continuity in the face of onsite learning disruptions (like a global pandemic). 

Sarah notes further that allowing students and parents this choice meets our Ministry of Education guidelines and allows the College to accommodate changing life needs as the pandemic progresses. Choice has also been known to motivate Adult Secondary and University Preparation Program learners who are older, more mature students, empowering them to have some choice in their education, leading to more student engagement. 

What are some examples of HYFLEX learning?  

Below are just a few of the approaches and technologies deployed by Instructors at the College to enable this unique delivery method:  

  •  Livestream of class via Youtube saved to Youtube channel 
  • Microsoft TEAMS: When students are not able to attend in class, the instructor has a separate device on hand to “be” the student so the student can “join” in on discussion groups and can view the class from the perspective they would if they were physically in the class.  
  • TEAMS and Zoom Combo + 2 devices: The instructor has FLEX students and records every class on Zoom through 2 devices always. One device is set up up front with the instructor facing him. The other device is a phone on a tripod that moves throughout the class for Science labs. The instructor assigns a student to be his “TA” and that student takes the tripod and phone around to the lab and shows the online students what is happening.  
  • TEAMS and Zoom Combo + 1 device + alternative office hours 
  • CANVAS full FLEX + Narrated Voice Lecture: Instructor sets up entire course in Canvas. Students overseas have the option to complete the course completely flexible or join in to live class. Instructor has all lectures posted and imbedded with course videos and materials and the lectures are voiced over by instructor. 
  • ONE NOTE + ZOOM: All students set up on OneNote. Since it is on the cloud the instructor can see the students as they are working and pull up their books to share their work and responses in class. Instructor records the class on Zoom and creates a page for every lesson and then, at the end of the lesson, pastes the link at the top of the page so the students who don’t attend live can watch the lesson and complete the tasks. 

Sarah credits one of the original sources for this new model, Dr Jenni Hayman, Chair of Teaching & Learning at Cambrian College (in Sudbury Ontario). Dr Hayman and others pioneered this model, which will continue to have a positive impact on students and teachers in the months ahead!  

For further details and resources regarding this model, please see: