What Do We Need to Know About Hyflex?

Hyflex is a specific approach, but has become almost a catch-all phrase for all approaches that have some combination of in-person and online teaching. The term Hyflex connotes hybridity (a mixture of in-person and online teaching) and flexibility and that both hybridity and flexibility are intended to serve the needs of learners. During the pandemic, Hyflex approaches have been used to offer instruction to in-person and remote students simultaneously, and to allow in-person students to pivot to remote if and when needed (for example, because of quarantine). (Read more about the various versions of hyflex approaches offered at institutions in fall 2020.)

We anticipate that most faculty will be engaging in one of the following versions of what is being called hyflex, described below.

Some Common Scenarios for Teaching this Fall

“Traditional” hyflex: Students can move between in-person synchronous, online synchronous, and online asynchronous depending on how they prefer to access the material and engage in the course on any given day or week. Developing a robust hyflex experience means creating a course where these 3 options are meaningfully intertwined.

Blended synchronous: Synchronous is the primary modality, with some students participating in person in the classroom, and others participating via Zoom. Developing a robust blended synchronous experience means ensuring that the students who are participating via Zoom are able to fully participate in the learning experience.

The following values and key ideas can help to design robust hyflex or blended courses that equitably support student learning.

“There’s been a lot of talk about HyFlex lately, but unfortunately a lot of it has been a bit simplified into ‘I record a class and students watch it.’ HyFlex is a bit richer than that, and springs from some important principles around student choice and access.” Mike Caulfield, Blended Content Studio, Washington State University, Vancouver

The principles underlying hyflex were articulated by Brian Beatty (see Hybrid Flexible Course Design), who is considered the originator of the hyflex approach. We share these principles here because as you think about your hyflex or hybrid synchronous course design, we invite you to consider how you will put these principles into practice.

Learner Choice

Provide meaningful alternative participation modes and enable students to choose between participation modes daily, weekly, or topically. Each alternative mode of participation should feel like an equivalent and inviting option for students.


Provide learning activities in all participation modes which lead to equivalent learning outcomes. This means carefully designing each mode of participation and interweaving those modes so that students can meaningfully interact across modes.


Utilize artifacts from learning activities in each participation mode as “learning objects’ for all students. For example, if you ask your online students to complete an activity using a Google doc, the in-person students should use the same Google doc.


Equip students with technology skills and equitable access to all participation modes. Learn more about creating accessible digital materials.

Hyflex has been criticized for being complex for the teacher and students to implement, and can result in inequitable learning experience for the students. The following suggestions will help you to create more robust and equitable learning environments for your students.

Creating a Class “Home Base” Online

An online “home base” for your class can help all students to more easily find course materials (like the syllabus, class recordings, readings, etc.) in one place, rather than relying on email or paper handouts. Consider also using that home base for posting announcements and for encouraging asynchronous interactions between in-person and remote students. Middlebury’s learning management system, Canvas, can be an effective home base for your hyflex course. Check out DLINQ’s Canvas templates to kickstart the design of your course home base (see the Canvas Commons & Canvas Templates section of the Canvas Toolshed page for instructions on installing the Canvas template in your course).

Design for Online First

In the hyflex model, it is often online/remote students who feel disengaged from what’s happening “in the room,” that is, the physical class meeting. By centering the online student experience and designing for online first, you can help to mitigate those issues. Designing for online first means designing the experience you want the online students to have, and then ensuring that what you do in asynchronous and synchronous interactions matches up to those goals.

Activity/Strategy: Creating a Zoom buddy for students who are joining remotely. If your goal for online students is that they feel as though they can contribute to the class discussion, assign one student in the physical room (and rotate who the student is each class) to be a Zoom buddy for the online students. The Zoom buddy logs into the Zoom room during class and calls attention to the chat and raised hands. During discussion, the professor can call first on the Zoom room for their contributions, and the Zoom buddy can help facilitate the remote students’ participation.

Centering Equitable Learning Opportunities

If we do not intentionally design equitable learning opportunities, we can tend to privilege the voices/participation of in-person students over students who are joining via Zoom. We may need to rethink how we structure our class meetings and our activities/assignments to ensure that all students in our class have an equitable opportunity to participate and learn.

Activity/Strategy: Structured discussions help to create more equitable participation opportunities in any class meeting, and they can be especially helpful in creating more equity across students participating across various modes. Often, structured discussions will need an accompanying shared document (like a Google Doc or Padlet) to support the discussion. We recommend reviewing structured discussion strategies offered by Stephen Brookfield in Discussion as a Way of Teaching (or this workshop guide created by Stephen) and experimenting with the Circle of Voices, Hatful of Quotes, or Snowballing approaches.

Planning Each Live Session for Multiple Forms of Participation

An effective and equitable hyflex class session takes preparation. This example “run of show” for a 50 & 75 minute hyflex class session illustrates the type of planning involved. Kevin Kelly, who authored the “run of show” document, also notes that faculty should plan for activities to take longer than they would in a fully in-person class meeting.

Activity/Strategy: Do a run-through! Before the semester begins, visit your classroom and practice running a hyflex class session. Walk through the process from start to finish: getting the room set up, getting the technology working (consider asking a friend, family member, or friendly DLINQ team member to be a fake Zoom-based student for you), and leading each interaction/activity. Will you be assigning a Zoom buddy? Decide how you’ll do that. Will you be asking students to interact on a shared Google Doc? Make sure that Doc is set up.

What Technologies Should I Use For My Hyflex Classes?

We recommend using technologies with which you and your students are most comfortable and familiar. Standard technologies used at Middlebury (and that are well supported) include Zoom, Canvas, Google Docs, and Microsoft products, like Teams. (Learn more about these tools at the DLINQ Toolshed.) We’ve also seen faculty use Slack (a chat tool) and Padlet (or other virtual pinboards) for collaboration among students. Don’t let technology be the barrier to participation–use technology wisely and make sure that students have access to resources that will help them navigate the technologies you’ll be using in your class.

What Are My Options For Using the Whiteboard in a Hyflex Classroom?

In this blog post, we detail a variety of options for using a whiteboard and tablets in conjunction with a hyflex classroom.

What If I Need Help With My Hyflex Class?

If you would like help designing and planning your hyflex class, DLINQ can help! Our instructional designers have expertise in designing for hybridity. Contact DLINQ

If you need help with classroom technology–before or during a class session–ITS can help! The Media Services team manages and supports classroom technology. Contact ITS

What If In-person Students Start Choosing to Attend Remotely?

That’s OK! Students can and should make choices about how they can learn best. We heard from some students that they appreciated and often needed the flexibility afforded by hybridity. One noted that, when he is facing a challenging mental health day, for example, attending remotely helps him stay engaged in his class.

How Will I Know If Hyflex is Working For My Students?

We recommend asking students how that format is working for them. You can ask via periodic surveys (anonymous may be best in order to receive honest feedback), group conversations, or one-on-one meetings. Asking students how the class is going–and being willing to make changes based on their input–can help address students’ concerns and challenges before they significantly impact students’ experiences.