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SIT HyFlex Introduction Sees Early Success

Southern Institute of Technology’s newest mode of programme delivery for students was introduced in the first semester this year – HyFlex Delivery; it has recently received recognition at an international level, through presenting at a teaching symposium, as well as award nominations for individual staff and the institute.

Achieving a first in New Zealand, SIT’s development of HyFlex delivery began in 2021, with the successful pilot project running in its Screen Arts programme. It was rolled out for Film, Animation and Game Design majors in semester 1 of this year.

“The outcomes for students in HyFlex courses have exceeded everyone's expectations”, said SIT’s CIO, Nick Elder, who has driven the project - a collaborative effort involving E-Learning specialists, IT and academic staff.

Other recent milestones have affirmed SIT’s decision to embrace the new delivery mode. Instructional Designer, Jerrylynn Manuel, from SIT’s E-Learning team, presented “Upskilling Tutors and Students for HyFlex”, at the international Blackboard Digital Teaching Symposium in April. Ms Manuel’s submitted abstract was chosen along with twenty-six other contributors, including fellow SIT staff member and Instructional Designer, Balint Koller, who presented on redesigning a distance learning course to boost student engagement.

Ms Manuel described the system they’ve developed to prepare SIT teaching staff for HyFlex delivery as “robust”. “The aim is to equip tutors with the skills and technical know-how on HyFlex facilitation,” she said. This includes the deployment of HyFlex teaching workshops, weekly learning conversations with tutors regarding teaching practices, and ongoing collaborative support, based on the needs of each tutor.

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Post-presentation, Ms Manuel said she received positive responses from the attendees. “What’s more, I was able to form connections with lecturers and instructional designers engaged in technology-enriched teaching from around the world.”

As leaders in introducing HyFlex to NZ, it’s been helpful for SIT to be part of a larger group of educational institutes worldwide who utilise Anthology software, providing networking opportunities and allowing them to check their advancement; they’ve found their practices and technology set-up for HyFlex to be on a par with some US and Canadian counterparts.

SIT’s HyFlex project was also nominated for the Anthology Catalyst Award – Leading Change category, amongst thirteen other nominations; the awards were instigated by Anthology+Blackboard to recognise innovation and excellence in their global client community. SIT School of Screen Arts Programme Manager, Rachel Mann and Ms Manuel were also nominated in the same category for SIT’s initial HyFlex pilot project.

Award criteria stated the Leading Change Award recognised those institutions who were at the forefront of innovation, using Blackboard and/or Anthology solutions to generate change, with measurable results; winners would be active collaborators, exemplifying cooperation, and sharing with other institutes.

Although they weren’t selected for first prize this year, Ms Manuel said the endorsements they’ve received for developing and introducing HyFlex at SIT, is encouraging. “The team has an appetite for innovation, and we are so pleased to have been recognised for being drivers of change within the institution. It also affirms the fact that the work we have all done in getting HyFlex up and running at SIT is of a high standard.”

In semester 2 - July 2022 - HyFlex will be available to New Zealand Certificate in Music (Level 4), New Zealand Certificate in Learning Design (Level 6), and Cloud Computing, followed by Content Creation, Digital Fashion, and Concept Art and Design in 2023.

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