College Spotlight

Scaling HyFlex Courses to Serve Rural Learners

September 14, 2023

Achieving the Dream

Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) is a small, rural college in upstate New York. The region faces geographical challenges that complicate in-person attendance for adult learners, including a lack of bridge access across local lakes and heavy snowfall that transforms a 35-minute summer commute into a 2.5-hour winter trek. As such, FLCC identified the HyFlex course format as one way to expand access for rural adult learners. FLCC’s Growing Rural Infrastructure Together (GRIT) program involves teaching many of these courses in-person at partner sites throughout the community to enable rural learners to also be able to benefit from in-person instruction if they choose.

Spotlight Feature

FLCC focused on advanced manufacturing programs for the HyFlex pilot, connecting with local partners to donate time, space, and broadband as course hosts. Through these sites, FLCC faculty deliver course content to students in many locations using FLCC technology for synchronous live learning. These mutually beneficial community partnerships connected employers and adult learners to one another, creating conditions for immediate employment upon course completion through micropathways. FLCC also assigns HyFlex students a success coach, a single point of contact who offers guidance about navigating the college’s systems and services either virtually or in-person.

Lessons Learned

  • Adult learners in the area have a uniquely local attachment to their communities, which drives their desire to stay close to home rather than travel to a central campus.
  • On-site partnerships with local employers, libraries, government agencies, and other nonprofits promote equitable access to broadband, transportation, and college opportunities.
  • Developing partnerships that include connecting learners to the employers donating space can benefit the student, the college, and the employer.
  • Building three- to nine-month micropathways that result in certifications for in-demand jobs meet the adult learner’s need for immediacy and relevancy.

Implementation Tips

Lean on the community’s resources to offer flexibility and equitable access.

Provide Local Access

Design HyFlex courses that respond to current local workforce needs and address the community’s specific geographic and resource challenges.

Prioritize Relevancy and Immediacy

Develop courses that build marketable skills and employability quickly, particularly in stable, long-term careers or fields.

Offer Personalized Support

Employ caring personnel who are subject matter experts in navigating the college’s systems and act as consistent points of contact for each student.



Course completion for the 2022 GRIT pilot


Employed in their desired sector within 30-days of completion

$6.3 million

Local economic impact because of job placement

Next Steps

  1. FLCC will build micropathways into additional fields beyond advanced manufacturing, including skilled trades and health care, to reach adult learners seeking careers in those sectors.
  2. The college has expanded into new locations, resulting in five additional community sites, one business site, and two campus centers.
  3. Because of the micropathways completion success, FLCC will implement institution-wide success coaches, associates who help all students navigate non-academic aspects of college life.