Hi -Flex Course Design

What is HiFlex?

 Hi-flex design enables your course to be offered online and face-to-face at the same time. To properly implement a hi-flex (highly flexible) course, you must be comfortable with mobile devices, computer and video hardware, and video conferencing through Zoom. Students are given the freedom to elect either modality, and often given the option to switch back and forth as needed. This kind of flexibility can be particularly helpful during times of crisis. We suggest using HiFlex (“highly flexible”) rather than HyFlex (“hybrid flexible”) so that you are leading with a pedagogical framework rather than a more rigid modality requirement. Use modality as another tool to meet the needs of the situation, your content, and your students.

Technologies Used

  • Canvas

  • Canvas Studio

  • Zoom

  • iPad and variety of apps

  • Video Camera - installed in classroom or via iPad


In, Out, Over

For each topic you want to cover, ask yourself how you will deliver the course to your in-class students, how your will deliver the course to your out-of-class (online) students, and how you will take advantage of the overlap between these two groups.

Can Be Synchronous or Asynchronous

In order to maximize the flexibility of the HiFlex modality, see if you can give your online students the choice of engaging synchronously (by Zooming in with your f2f students, for example) or asynchronously (by watching recordings and completing work anytime). This actually means you have to in engage in three design processes: f2f, online sync, and online async.

Combine with Modular Design

Some parts of your course may work much better in a f2f format, and others may actually work better online. For others, either might be great. If you identify a certain module that works better in a f2f environment, for example, you can run that module when the crisis situation permits. In this way, your course schedule may suggest (or require) online or f2f participation at some points if the context allows. This is not traditional HyFlex as much as it is highly flexible. But remember that traditional HyFlex reminds us to always offer online options for students who need them, so even if you create a f2f module in your HiFlex architecture, keep a HyFlex pathway so certain students can still have access to what they need.

Backwards Design

Start by thinking of a learning outcome for your particular content. From there, design activities in each modality (f2f, online sync, online async) that target the outcome. Think about how the instructions and support will be delivered across the different modalities and clearly communicated to students.


While technology in HiFlex courses can be hugely helpful as a tool for providing access for those students who can’t be physically present, we need to be careful not to overburden ourselves and our students with the online learning environment we design. A few tips to guide your technology planning around HiFlex:

  • Choose tools that can be used by both f2f and online students. 

  • Encourage the use of communication tools by your f2f students for activities and conversations — don’t “isolate” your online students from the larger course community. 

  • Consider building out a robust course Web site (or shell in your LMS) that all students will use to access materials, share ideas, and connect with one another. Building a site like this can also help you wrap your head around the overall organization and structure of your course. 

  • Work closely with your IT and academic technology support staff and colleagues; they can offer valuable advice about which tools to consider and how to support your students use of them. 

Design with Hi-Flex

  • Analyze and confirm or modify expected student learning outcomes. What are your student learning outcomes? Can these outcomes be met effectively in all provided student participation modes or do they need modification?

  • Plan student learning activities (content and interaction). For each learning outcome, ask:

    • What activities are required in each mode?

    • What additional resources are required in each mode?

    • How will activities and resources be facilitated and/or provided to students in each mode?

    • What overlap is there between the modes that can provide additional learning benefits?

  • Assess learning outcomes. For each learning outcome, ask:

    • What – exactly – will be assessed?

    • How will this assessment be conducted for students in each participation mode?

    • What additional issues associated with participation mode (timing, sharing, etc.) may have to be solved or at least considered for this context?

Extra Readings and Resources

Copyright © 2019 Center for Innovation and Digital Learning.  All rights reserved.