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VOL. 79 PART 1 JANUARY 2021
students, so long as the two-metre social distancing minimum could be
Could we offer opportunities for in-person instruction while also reaching
those students who were online? And would the students want it if we
The answer to the latter question from our incoming class of first-year
students in response to a summer poll was a resounding “Yes!” That, and
our sense that live, in-person teaching was invaluable, spurred us to work
with our colleagues, a willing administration and a strong technical support
team to build the hybrid flexible (“HyFlex”) classroom described below.
The HyFlex Setup
The hybridity and flexibility of HyFlex refer to the capacity of students and
instructors to participate in a live class either in person or online. Our
classes before the pandemic were a mix of lecture, discussion, Q&A, and
individual and small group work, and during the pandemic our goal has
been to make all of this possible across a physical and virtual classroom so
that everyone, whether attending in person or online, can participate.
The first task was to ration student access to Allard Hall in order to stay
within occupancy limits. The law school already divides its incoming class
of nearly 200 students into four sections and teaches the first-year subjects
separately to each section. Numerous options were considered to further
subdivide the sections, but in the end we simply divided each section into
Students in each subsection have the option to attend their scheduled
classes in person for one week on a three-week rotation. Those who attend
have access to their assigned classroom for the day, and their instructors
who are teaching in person rotate through. Movement is limited. The Law
Cafe and Law Library are closed, but there are a few well-spaced tables and
chairs in the interaction area available for studying.
The students who are not in the classroom attend the same class online
through Logitech’s Rally videoconferencing hardware. A large-screen TV,
two speakers, an HD camera and a computer sit on a trolley cart beside the
instructor. Four omnidirectional microphone pods are placed around the
classroom, one in front of the instructor. The computer is connected to the
instructor’s Zoom or Collaborate Ultra videoconference meeting. The TV
screen faces the in-class students and displays online students in gallery
view. The camera captures the students in the classroom.
Instructors use a laptop computer to host the online meeting (with audio
muted to prevent feedback), and it displays online students to the instructor.
Its camera also provides a view of the instructor to online students.