Sarah Wheeler (Administrator)
Bureau of Adult Education, New Hampshire Department of Education
Description of program and learners
New Hampshire’s Bureau of Adult Education supports 29 school districts and eight community-based organizations providing AEFLA (Adult Education and Family Literacy Act)–funded adult education programming. Many have implemented HyFlex instruction to some extent and state administrator Sarah Wheeler hopes more will do so in the future. To that end, she uses the HyFlex model to deliver professional development (PD) opportunities for New Hampshire’s adult education practitioners, helping familiarize them with the approach in the process. Previously, the state had offered PD through in-person workshops with live streaming, which shifted to either asynchronous online courses or live remote trainings held via video conference during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. This experience showed the potential of the HyFlex approach to scale PD, making it more flexible and accessible to teachers who would have had to travel a great distance to attend in person, or who, because they were part-time educators, may not have had time to attend full-day workshops.
HyFlex in Action: Course and Instruction
Sarah planned to use HyFlex PD to support teachers in important initiatives, such as Career Navigator training, and for training new program directors on topics such as data-collection and organization. She recorded training activities at director meetings or when she provided one-off technical assistance which allowed her to add the recordings as an asynchronous learning activity in Canvas.
The HyFlex PD in New Hampshire was based on use of asynchronous courses in Canvas paired with some in-person or live remote training. Sarah had been live-streaming in-person sessions for four years. For her asynchronous mode, she was working to organize the video recordings of these sessions in Canvas, and, using an application called Kaltura, to embed interactive activities that allowed her to assign and monitor consumption of the recordings.
Sarah reported that planning time was similar to what is needed for traditional models, except for the initial time needed to figure out logistics. For the HyFlex PD, she started by identifying learning objectives and first planned how teachers could reach them through online asynchronous activities. While she planned the asynchronous work, she considered equivalent synchronous activities, attending to whether all participants could accomplish the objectives in the same amount of time. Sarah strived for equivalency, but not for the same experience. She noted that presenting was different when addressing attendees in two modalities and that, without adequate planning of synchronous audiences, it was easy to neglect the online participants. She also noted that having some pre-work for all audiences helped people arrive with a shared context that helps sustained engagement.
Sarah went through presentation slides live and then posted everything in Canvas (slides, resources, and recording). To support engagement in the live session, she had a teaching assistant monitoring chat and sharing documents. She placed the speaker in the middle of the room and used a wide-angle camera. Online attendees could see in-person participants and they, in turn, could see and hear the online participants, who were projected on a screen through a Zoom connection using an external camera. Sarah used many breakout room activities to support collaboration, as well as Jamboard and Poll Everywhere. She embedded answers to the polls and Jamboard into the final version of the presentation slides that got posted for asynchronous participants.
The software that made this approach possible was Canvas, Kaltura, Jamboard, Google Apps, Zoom, Poll Everywhere, along with the quiz applications Kahoot and Factile. For hardware, Sarah used what she considered to be a middle-of-the-road approach: two 85-inch displays in the training room, a 70-inch touchscreen, an EagleEye Cube Camera, and a Poly Studio X70 audio system. She could afford to buy the technology because she had spent less on in-person training throughout the pandemic, which freed up funds.
Technical Support and Training for Teachers and Learners
New Hampshire Department of Education PD staff offered some professional learning opportunities for the state’s adult educators and Sarah took a course to learn how to craft model HyFlex PD to serve as an example for the teachers.
Implementation: Lessons Learned
Implementation to date has shown early success. Participation in PD dramatically increased because teachers had more flexible options. As analytics become available after full integration of Kaltura in Canvas, Sarah will be able to collect more detailed information about engagement in asynchronous mode. She wants to integrate badging to track engagement and progress.
The main benefit Sarah observed was more flexibility. Building asynchronous options also created an archive of materials that could be used as just-in-time technical assistance. The structure in Canvas made it easy to have reference guides (her slides) ready and Kaltura supported accessibility by providing transcripts and indexing through keyword search of video transcripts, helping teachers find what they needed.
Sarah also changed how she thought about PD activities. Rather than continuing to rely on full-day workshops, she began to divide training into smaller, more manageable chunks offered more frequently. This resulted in additional archived material for technical assistance. This targeted and flexible PD positively impacted program- and state-level performance.
When Sarah was getting set up, she found waiting for the required technologies inconvenient. It also took time to learn to use Canvas and build the courses. She was concerned about the digital literacy and access of the teachers, and, though she has done much to mitigate lack of access, she still had teachers unwilling to make the shift choose to opt out.