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ActiveFlex: Using Technology to Include Diverse Student Populations

Pennsylvania Convention Center, Terrace Ballroom Lobby, Table 1

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Instructional Systems Administrator
Athens State University
Tracey DeCicco has the unique perspective of having been a student in ActiveFlex courses at Athens State University before joining the ActiveFlex staff, where she worked as a technical support and content development specialist. She currently serves as the university’s Instructional Systems Administrator, still active in maintaining the ActiveFormat format course offerings. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in History, as well as a bachelor's degree in Technical Education.
Associate Prof. of Instructional Design
Athens State University
Instructional Designer
Athens State University
Joy Oettel is an Instructional Designer/Multimedia Specialist at Athens State University where she designs courses with an emphasis on active learning strategies and flexible methods of interaction. She also supports faculty members in implementing ActiveFlex elements into their instruction. Joy has eighteen years of experience as an educator and curriculum director for EdTech companies. She received her B.A. in English from Auburn University, her M.Ed from the University of Montevallo, and a B.S. in Instructional Design from Athens State University. She resides in Decatur. Alabama where she enjoys working as a ceramic artist and hiking with her husband and two daughters.
Learning Tech. Specialist & AV Coord.
Athens State University

Session description

An increasing number of students are unable to attend in-person classes at their institution, whether due to distance or family/work obligations. Learn how ActiveFlex can provide these students with the opportunity to have the same active learning experience as their in-person classmates, increasing student engagement and retention.

Purpose & objective

The purpose of our presentation is to show attendees how our ActiveFlex format uses technology to increase engagement and participation for a diverse learner population, including students learning abroad and in underserved communities. Students who enroll in ActiveFlex courses receive the same quality education and achieve the same learning objectives regardless of their location or chosen modality for attending class. This is because ActiveFlex brings together students who are in the university classroom and those joining online from any location across the world.

For example, Athens State University is currently in a partnership with a University in India. A cohort of thirty 15 year old cyber security students took advantage of our ActiveFlex format, allowing them to synchronously learn alongside our local students. The result was international collaboration between students of different ages, cultures, and geographical locations. Students reported a highly favorable experience in the class, noting that their engagement was increased by the ActiveFlex format.

Another Athens State University student had to move to Miami, Florida in the middle of the semester. She preferred to learn synchronously and did not feel comfortable in an asynchronous online class. Instead of dropping the class, she was able to attend from her new home in Miami and interact with her classmates just as she had done before.

ActiveFlex goes beyond traditional distance learning or even hyflex models by providing increased flexibility and engagement. Students attending the class on campus are grouped with students attending online for synchronous reinforcement activities, giving them equal opportunity to interact with other students and the instructor. Students who cannot drive to campus or who live in a different time zone complete the same activities and get the same real-time interaction from instructors.

Presentation Objectives:
Identify the unique components of the ActiveFlex format.
Discuss how technology is used to execute the ActiveFlex format.
Articulate how the ActiveFlex format aids in serving a diverse student population.
Develop a plan for integrating the ActiveFlex format into their existing courses.

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Our presentation will include the following components:
Introduction (the reason for ActiveFlex) 15 mins.
The ActiveFlex Format (the components) 15 mins.
Lecture Summary
Reinforcement Activity
Implementation 10 mins.
Current state
Results 10 mins.
Examples of local and international student experiences
Questions 10 mins.

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Supporting research

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Session specifications

Equity and inclusion
Grade level:
Community college/university
Skill level:
Chief technology officers/superintendents/school board members, Teacher education/higher ed faculty, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Attendee devices:
Devices not needed
ISTE Standards:
For Educators:
  • Advocate for equitable access to educational technology, digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.