ON DEMAND: Engaging Students in Synchronous Hybrid Environments: What We Can Learn from HyFlex Teaching


  • Evelyn Tomaszewski
  • Daphne King
  • Terri Ann Guingab




Mason degree programs have been challenged with honoring COVID-19 safety protocols while also honoring the commitment to student – centered learning that flourishes within inclusive, engaged, and lively classroom discussions. In fall 2021, as part of Mason’s Safe Return to Campus, allowable in-person classroom capacity was at 50% of course enrollment. After a literature review, the Social Work Department chose to expand the synchronous hybrid format (e.g., all students meet on-line, or all meet on-campus) to use HyFlex strategies. In order to address classroom size limitations and to allow for synchronous learning, the department piloted a HyFlex model in which students were divided into two sections. Each week half the class could attend on-campus while the other half attend virtual/on-line; the two sections “switched off’ weekly so that all students could attend (up to half) the weekly classes in person/on-campus.

Faculty modified their teaching to address technological challenges such as online audience disengagement, limited microphone range, and audio lag; as well as teaching strategies that allowed for full participation in lectures and in skill-building exercises from a bi-located student attendee. This video presentation will present an overview of the HyFlex strategy, and highlight lessons learned and techniques implemented over Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. Examples of lessons learned include establishing clear classroom participation norms, utilizing a Zoom assistant to monitor chat, and adjusting physical and online small group activities for the split environment.

Participants teaching a synchronous hybrid course will be able to utilize classroom management strategies that maintain student engagement for both audiences. They will apply techniques that address the challenges this format presents.

Should Mason Want to explore other modalities for combining on-campus and on-line synchronous sections (for outreach to underserved or distanced students), these techniques could be a guide or beneficial.

Author Biography

Evelyn Tomaszewski

College of Health and Human Services






2021 On Demand Pre-recorded Presentation