HyFlex resources for students

Hybrid Flexible ("HyFlex") is a term used to describe a teaching environment in which some of the students meet in-person in a classroom while other students participate online. This page specifically covers the technology components of HyFlex. To find out more about the overall principles of HyFlex, we recommend reviewing the plentiful content available from the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support as well as OIT's HyFlex knowledge base content. Those are geared toward faculty but provide valuable information that students can use in order to know what to expect.

This page is intended to provide CMU students with most of the technology-related information needed to participate in a HyFlex classroom environment. While every course and instructor are different, this information is meant to cover the most common scenarios we anticipate to apply to the majority of courses at CMU. In each section below, we've linked to additional content in our knowledge base to provide additional configuration instructions, information, and just about anything else you need to know to use these services effectively.

Computer requirements

In general, any Windows or Mac laptop already has everything you need as a student in a HyFlex course as long as it has a built-in microphone and webcam and meets the system requirements for Webex. That said, we do recommend purchasing a headset (wired or wireless), even if it is just a fairly inexpensive one, because they tend to improve the audio experience significantly. Not only will you be able to hear the class better, but your voice will be clearer for your peers during class discussions.

While we generally recommend against students using a Chromebook as their primary computer, a Chromebook can still be suitable for some students, but that will depend on the course and instructor. Most notably, Chromebooks are incompatible with the Respondus Lockdown Browser used for some Blackboard assessments, and there are no known workarounds aside from using a different computer. Chromebooks are also unable to install software built for Windows or Mac OS, so you may not be able to access specialized software if your course requires it.

Video conferencing technologies

At its core, HyFlex teaching assumes that video conferencing will play a large role in the classroom, as many of the students will be participating remotely. CMU primarily uses two video conferencing platforms: Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams.

Webex

Webex is CMU's primary video conferencing software, and is the default installed on the podium computers in HyFlex Classrooms. Webex can run on nearly any device, but we recommend double-checking the system requirements for Webex anyway.

Microsoft Teams

In addition to many other collaboration features, Microsoft Teams offers video conferencing, and your instructor may choose to use Teams instead of Webex. You may already have Teams on your computer if you've installed Office on your computer, but you can also download it as a standalone program for your computer or mobile device.

Blackboard - CMU's learning management system (LMS)

Blackboard plays a very important role in all classes at CMU, but it is especially important to be well-versed in Blackboard for HyFlex classes, as Blackboard is likely to be used as the foundation for your course organization and materials. Every course at CMU has a Blackboard "course shell" already, so using it for HyFlex doesn't require anything additional.

Respondus Lockdown Browser (LDB)

The Lockdown Browser is a piece of  software used to prevent academic dishonesty. The LDB is used to access Blackboard while also preventing any other windows from being accessed at the same time. Some, but not all, instructors may require the use of the LDB for online assessments administered through Blackboard.

Network connectivity

Having a reliable network connection is critical for any remote classroom experience. If you're on CMU's Mt. Pleasant campus, you'll want to make sure that you have your computer configured for the new wireless networks released in early-mid 2020. 

Email

Email is the most common way an instructor is able to reach out to their students. You're probably very familiar with your CMU email already, but please make sure to check it regularly to ensure you're not missing any important information from your instructor or the university.

General tips and other resources

  • Always refer to your instructor's Blackboard course shell or syllabus for course-specific instructions and information. If those instructions differ from what is on this page, assume those instructions supersede the content on this page or seek clarity from your instructor.
  • Webex etiquette suggests muting yourself as soon as you join a class/meeting, and only unmute yourself if you're actively talking or part of discussion.
    • This holds true especially if you're physically in the classroom, where audio feedback loops are most likely to occur. If you unmute your audio and cause feedback, mute your audio until you can resolve it. It may require your instructor to lower or disable the classroom's speaker.
  • If you want to see the directions instructors are being given regarding HyFlex, check out our HyFlex Classrooms KB article for instructors.
  • Visit https://kb.cmich.edu to access the knowledge base, where you can find information and instructions for most CMU technologies.
  • For specific information about the fall 2020 semester, including social distancing guidelines and other guidelines, visit CMU's Fired Up for Fall website.
  • Test your computer hardware well before attending class in person or virtually
    • Fire up your own Webex room at cmich.webex.com/meet/yourGlobalID
    • Make sure your computer can receive and play audio
    • Make sure your microphone is working
    • Make sure your webcam works and your background lighting is sufficient
    • If you purchase a headset, test it to make sure both the speakers and mic work
  • If you run into any problems, contact the OIT Help Desk

Technical support

If you run into any problems, you can always contact the OIT Help Desk. We'll do our best to answer any questions you have or resolve any technical problems you're experiencing. You can contact the Help Desk via multiple channels: