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Rethinking the Classroom for Hyflex Learning

As you adapt your practice to the hyflex learning model you will encounter new strategies, practices, and terminology. This resource is part of our Hybrid Learning Series.
Published: March 25, 2021

As you adapt your practice to the hyflex learning model you will encounter new strategies, practices, and terminology. This resource provides information and tips to help you modify your pedagogical practices for a hybrid learning model.

What is Hyflex Learning?

Hyflex learning is a modality of teaching that presents the components of hybrid or blended learning in a flexible course structure that gives students the option of attending sessions in the classroom, participating online, or both. In a hyflex learning environment:

  • The student has some control over the place, path, and pace of learning;
  • The student can participate face-to-face, online, or through a combination of both for synchronous, instructor-led, learning sessions;
  • The student can complete offline assignments at the time, place, and pace of their choosing; and
  • Educators use technology to facilitate live and recorded online instruction, communicate with students, house resources and learning materials, and serve as a portal for receiving and returning assignments.


Accessibility: Equitable access to content to ensure that no student is discriminated against because of their unique needs or abilities.

Cloud storage: An Internet-based computing model that allows you to store, manage, and share files online. Popular cloud storage-based platforms include Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.

Culturally responsive instruction: A pedagogical practice that integrates students’ cultural references into the classroom.

Learning management system: A platform used to deploy and track online training. Content is uploaded thereby making it accessible for both face to face to and remote learners.

Netiquette: The appropriate online social behavior.

Social emotional learning: The process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Student response tool: A tool that is used to receive real-time or on the spot, formative feedback on student understanding.

Synchronous and asynchronous learning: Two types of online learning formats. Synchronous learning activities occur in real-time with participants actively participating in the same online environment. Asynchronous learning does not occur in real-time; it includes learning and activities that students can complete on their own schedule.

Universal Design for Learning: A set of principles that guide the design of inclusive classroom instruction and accessible course materials.

Instead of This, Try This

Instead of in-person back to school activities, try

  • Incorporate virtual activities that create a welcoming climate and build community for students and families. Consider hosting a spirit week or holding virtual social gatherings to help students engage with and get to know each other.

Instead of textbooks and printed resources, try

  • Guide students and families through your online course materials or Learning Management System (LMS) to ensure that they know how to access resources, communicate with you, and turn in assignments. Ensure that students without devices or connectivity understand the offline procedures for this.
  • Provide videos and screenshots for students and parents to help navigate the LMS.

Instead of daily roll call, try

  • Communicate regularly with all students and families to monitor learning and provide support.

Instead of one-size-fits-all, try

  • Use formative assessment to inform follow-up assignments.
  • Incorporate Universal Design for Learning strategies and culturally responsive instruction to ensure access and inclusivity.
  • Create a space for students to share their preferred pronouns.

Instead of lecture, try

  • Flip the classroom or post short recorded lessons and incorporate active learning strategies.
  • During synchronous learning time, consider the components of the lesson to focus on. For students unable to complete offsite aspects of the learning, build in supports for them to complete them in the face-to-face setting.

Instead of quizzes, try

  • Offer a different ways for students to demonstrate knowledge including project work, videos, music, and art.
  • Incorporate polling and other student response tools into synchronous lessons.

Instead of worksheets/individual work, try

  • Design units of learning. Unpack the virtual elements and incorporate strategies of support so that students can be successful without in-person guidance.
  • Incorporate group work and collaborative learning to improve student engagement and provide social interaction.
  • Include opportunities for Project Based Learning.

Instead of assignment deadlines, try

  • Allow for flexibility in assignment deadlines.

Hyflex Features

How does it work?
In a hyflex model, each class session and learning activity is offered in-person, synchronously online, and asynchronously online. Students and families can decide, for each class or activity, how they will participate. The hyflex model provides students and families more autonomy and flexibility to balance work, multiple learning schedules, and family time.

The hyflex approach requires the teacher to provide equitable access to the class materials, resources, tools, and platform for all students regardless of their learning pathway. All classes must be recorded for asynchronous learners.

Tips for Implementation

Peer-to-peer interaction
Because students may be participating concurrently online and in-person, educators must ensure that students are able to interact with each other in real time.

Provide opportunities for online synchronous learners to participate in real time.

For students who are learning asynchronously, it is helpful to maintain a chat stream to capture interactions during synchronous instruction. Asynchronous discussion boards can help connect students learning synchronously with those learning asynchronously. Consider asking support staff to assist in monitoring and capturing chat room and discussion board interactions.

Because hyflex provides multiple learning pathways, provide flexibility in how you will assess student learning. Formatively assess student learning during synchronous class time and provide student self-checks for students learning asynchronously.

Offer choice in how students will demonstrate knowledge. Surveys can be used to evaluate asynchronous learners in achieving specific learning goals.

Where possible, arrange your videoconferencing equipment to allow online and in-person students see each other on screen.

Provide opportunities for asynchronous learners to work on assignments with their peers outside of class time.

When students are participating in-person and online concurrently, before cameras go on, remind students to check their learning space to ensure it is free of inappropriate items.

Common Pedagogical Practices for Hyflex Learning

Many pedagogical practices for hyflex and blended learning are similar; however, there are key differences. Where hyflex depends on live instruction, blended relies on both recorded and live instruction. Because hyflex instruction relies more heavily on synchronous learning, formative assessments can include the use of real-time student response tools. Below are descriptions of common pedagogical practices used in a hyflex learning environment.

Accommodate learning styles: The different ways in which students learn best. Understanding the learning styles of individual learners can help educators accommodate different learning styles and enhance student learning experiences.

Active learning strategies: Uses student engagement to guide their learning, it requires that students do something to enhance their understanding. Using active learning strtategies provides opportunities for students to learn through exploration and collaboration.

Collaborative learning: Provides opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction in the process of co-constructing knowledge.

Differentiate Instruction: Can enrich and accelerate learning by meeting each student’s individual needs. This can be accomplished by using a variety of strategies such as flexible grouping or providing options for how students learn and demonstrate knowledge.

Flipped classroom: Provides opportunities to offer synchronous and asynchronous online learning; Asynchronous time can be spent on building background knowledge, while synchronous learning is focused on engagement, collaboration, and assessment.

Partner/group activities: Provide opportunities for social interaction, to incorporate activities that accommodate multiple learning modalities, and to create a sense of community.

Peer-to-peer interaction: Allows for flexibility in grouping and encourages shared responsibility and teamwork.

Project based learning: Accommodates various student learning styles and provides an authentic assessment of student knowledge and understanding, opportunities for asynchronous individual or collaborative group learning, and an extended period of time to respond to an authentic learning inquiry.

Short recorded lessons: An important tool in online learning. The recorded lessons can be accessed by students unable to join synchronous lessons and provide them with an opportunity to review lessons as needed.

Video communication: An important aspect of online learning that provides students with a sense of connectedness and community through video and audio platforms.

NEA provides guidance and resources for returning to classrooms safely, and with an emphasis on racial and social justice.

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Hybrid Learning Series

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about new challenges for educators as learning in many school districts has transitioned from in-person instruction to distance learning models that include combinations of in-person instruction and virtual learning.
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