“Hybrid” and “HyFlex” – Are they the same?

I touched a while ago on the concept of a hybrid classroom, a space that supports teaching to both local and remotely located students.  But increasingly a new term is appearing – “HyFlex.”  What is this, and can we use the two terms interchangeably?

The term “HyFlex” has been credited to Brian Beatty of San Francisco State University, who uses it in a paper from 2006 entitled Designing the HyFlex World – Hybrid, Flexible Classes for All Students.  A blend of the words Hybrid and Flexible, HyFlex is a type of course design that provides options for the faculty in course delivery, whether in-classroom or online, and also options for the student, in whether to attend in-person or not.  Dating from more than a decade ago, this isn’t a new concept, though it’s taken on particular relevance today.  A good discussion of the origins is here: https://openscholarspress.org/hyflex/book_intro.

Our hybrid classrooms are well suited for Hyflex teaching.  Equipped with in-classroom seating for local students and with the technology for remote teaching, the hybrid classroom offers choice to the instructor.  And they permit flexible student choice; students can decide day-by-day between in-person and remote attendance, with little effect on classroom design.

So no, the terms hybrid and HyFlex aren’t the same thing.  They are obviously related, though, and language is fluid, so we can expect them to be used interchangeably.  But knowing the distinction helps remind us of the point of our work, that we’re creating spaces to be useful.