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Instructional Technologists Share Experience Setting Up HyFlex-Inspired Courses

Office of Information Technology staff participated in a webinar to discuss how UNLV is using technology to present real-time instruction to students who are in the classroom and learning remotely at the same time.

OIT News  |  Jun 11, 2021  |  By Nicole Johnson
Person typing on a laptop computer, another person appearing on a screen, and a third person standing in the background

Instructional technologist Andrew Borts assists Melissa Bowles-Terry, UNLV Faculty Center director, with the technology to help her present to in-person and remote audiences simultaneously during a RebelFlex information session. (Rakitha Perera/UNLV OIT)

A group of instructional technologists shared how UNLV is adjusting its course design to include synchronous in-person and remote instruction.

Alethea Inns, Andrew Borts, and Mark Kasselhut, all from the Office of Information Technology (OIT), participated in a webinar hosted by Panopto last month about HyFlex-inspired classes.

They discussed how instructional technology tools, like web conferencing, a learning management system, and lecture capture, can be used to build a more resilient university to a virtual audience representing 70 different colleges across the world.

According to Borts, not many instructors were using these tools before the pandemic, but were able to leverage these technologies when campus moved to remote operations.

“I have to give faculty a lot of credit,” said Borts. “They’re taking [the tools and class content] to the next level and thinking of ways to enhance the learning experience.” 

Like many universities, lecture capture and web conferencing became the new standard for UNLV during the pandemic. At its peak, four million minutes of content were recorded in Panopto and two million meeting minutes were delivered in Webex.

Back in March, President Keith E. Whitfield announced UNLV is planning for a majority of courses to be in person for the upcoming fall semester, with a limited number of HyFlex-style classes, where some students are in the classroom and others are participating remotely.

The new teaching method is called RebelFlex, and OIT, the Office of Online Education, and UNLV Faculty Center are preparing for the pilot program, which is slated for the fall semester. They will convert 50 spaces into RebelFlex classrooms, train instructors during the summer, and provide classroom assistants to moderate remote learners.

The rooms will be equipped with technology, including a lectern, document camera, touch panel, microphones, speakers, and video cameras, to help instructors teach students in person and those who are remote at the same time.

“We did a lot of work [to make] our touch panels [more automated] so that instructors don’t have to press a ton of buttons all the time,” said Borts. “They can schedule lectures in advance and present content in a live synchronous session to in-person and far audiences.”

Inns, Borts, and Kasselhut are learning a lot while they implement RebelFlex, and they offer some advice for anyone who wants to use a HyFlex-inspired method: standardize technology, test all possible situations, and provide training and support.

"The situation has really opened people's eyes to new ways of doing things," said Kasselhut. "We're happy to see them [using the new technologies]."