CCSF Adapting to a New Alternative for Online Classes

By Logan Dang


Starting this summer, City College of San Francisco will not offer classes on Zoom; however, the administration is considering a new technological approach called HyFlex. Three other colleges–San Diego College of Continuing Education (SDCCE), Pierce College (Los Angeles), and Cañada College (San Mateo)–have implemented this service. 

HyFlex, described by Dr. Dayamudra Dennehy, City College’s Distance Education Coordinator and ESL faculty member, offers students a hybrid model of learning that promotes flexibility.

An example of a smaller seminar utilizing HyFlex. Photo courtesy of Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning.

Students may choose to participate in person for some activities that include daily online meetings and assignments. Or they may opt for a fully online experience with minimal interaction between instructor and student unless a meeting is scheduled. This mode is termed “asynchronous.”

The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (CCTL) showcases some examples of a HyFlex class:

Demonstration of Lecture setup of an instructor and students. Camera A able to give perspectives from close, medium, or far-distance views. Camera B allows online students to see their in-person peers. Photo courtesy of Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning

As the diagram illustrates, HyFlex offers versatility and aims to engage all students whether they attend in person or remotely. CCTL noted that “Departments or schools may specify what amount of the three modes (on-site, remote, asynchronous) can count for full participation in a HyFlex class.” 

Dr. Dennedy described her own experience from her graduate studies at San Francisco State University where “Pre-COVID, students in our cohort were allowed to join the class by Zoom and a television cart was rolled around the classroom to include them in small group discussions. There were also interactive screens at every table in certain classrooms.”

At SDCCE, the college uses three options dealing with HyFlex. The first is the Meeting Owl Pro Camera, which offers a 360º view of the classroom. The second is the standard laptop with a microphone. The third is a more smart-tech approach with a classroom camera, ceiling microphone, and touch panels, along with other tech. 

Pierce College employs a “dual delivery” method using HyFlex with the Owl camera and laptops. However, the college faces challenges with the installation and maintenance of new equipment in old buildings.

Regarding more details of the implementation of the system at City College, the Office of Instruction did not give a response in time for publication. However, if the system is implemented, the outcomes are as listed on the Office of Online Learning and Educational Technology webpage:

  • Assessing the effectiveness in learning outcomes and engagement
  • Determining the feasibility of implementation on a larger scale at City College
  • Feedback on improvement and making adjustments to the system
  • Test technology infrastructure and support needed to effectively deliver HyFlex
  • Determine resource requirements for implementation of HyFlex

 Most students interviewed at City College said that the system would provide greater flexibility, and most welcomed its implementation; however, there are concerns with the system. Michaela Royer said, “There could be heavy reliance on the online aspect that students may not be as active participants compared to in-person learners. I think in-person classes are more fun when there are more people there.”

Another student, Anna Dang (not related) said, “Asynchronous learning or online learning is really good for individuals who don’t have a hectic home life and are very focused individuals. I personally prefer in-person as I have a big family at home.” 

Owl camera appearance. Function: allows 360º view with a camera, mic, and speaker. Photo courtesy of Owl Labs.

Other students like Henry Drake and Dana Nguyen also agree that they prefer in-person. However, they did believe that the system would provide greater flexibility although Nguyen noted that  “instructors may have more work to do.”

Drake commented that the system “may be more beneficial to certain courses than others.” There were other concerns as well. Royer mentioned, “Some areas at City College have very weak internet. Students may also have trouble at home with the internet and technology access.” 

For more details, visit CCSF’s Enrollment Management Committee page, section 2022-23 agendas.

The Guardsman