A new hybrid course model is on the horizon for Valley students

HyFlex courses will offer Monarchs alternatives to both standard online and in-person classes.

By Cassandra Nava, Editor-in-Chief

Hybrid-flexible courses, known as HyFlex, may soon become the norm in Valley College’s ever-changing digital landscape.

The course model differs from the traditional hybrid course in that classes are recorded and can be viewed by students live from their computers — or once the class has ended. Hyflex offers students a choice: attend class in-person, synchronous with live online instruction or completely online. Cameras and microphones will be installed in classrooms to capture the essence of the in-person experience. The added technology allows the instructor to maintain the normalcy of teaching students in the physical classroom while mirroring that effect for students online.

According to Valley President Barry Gribbons, the college outfitted a classroom in the Administration and Career Advancement building with the technology needed for a HyFlex course late last year. Though Valley does not yet offer the hybrid learning model, staff and faculty have attended demonstrations.

However, some faculty members voiced their concerns about the preparation required for the course model.

“I don't think you can just walk in and teach a face-to-face class and do this effectively,” said Academic Senate President Chauncey Maddren in an Academic Senate meeting last week. “I think you need some specific training. To me, that means professional development and certification.”

Pierce College has already implemented HyFlex courses, using a Zoom compatible 360-degree camera, microphone and speaker device known as a “Meeting Owl.”

“It works in conjunction with the teaching methods that many of us have been using during the pandemic,” said Wendy Bass, Pierce’s distance education coordinator, in a YouTube video explaining the hybrid learning system. “We would like a return to normalcy, but we are not quite ready.”

The program claims to be inclusive to students who do not physically attend class, offering closed captioning and online chat functions for accessibility.

Valley is in the early stages of teaching professors the HyFlex ropes.

“We’re looking forward to using the HyFlex classroom and learning about how it can help promote student success,” said Gribbons.

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