A record-setting 210 Fellows attended the newly-created HyFlex course, designed to accommodate in-house and virtual participation due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) expanded its educational program with a Hybrid-Flex or HyFlex model, that welcomed a global class of 210 Fellows to the Indo-Pacific Orientation Course (IPOC) 21-1 from Feb. 22-26, 2021.

Dr. James M. Minnich, the course manager, explained that “HyFlex is an educational model that is concurrently delivered in-resident to some and online to others; each according to their needs.” Adjusting for COVID-19 social distancing protocols, 120 Hawaii-based participants and 90 off-island participants formed fifteen 14-person HyFlex seminars to integrate unique backgrounds and experiences into a highly sought-after executive education experience of discussions and applied learning activities on key security issues and trends affecting the Indo-Pacific region.

DKI APCSS Director Pete Gumataotao welcomes both virtual and in-house Fellows to the course.

The HyFlex design allowed the course size to expand beyond the Center’s physical limitations while opening the course globally. While IPOC 21-1 was a 40-hour intensive week that was presented live from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Honolulu, the span of multiple time zones meant that Fellows across the globe joined the course at varying times. For example, Fellows in New Delhi, India participated from 11:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. as Fellows in Washington D.C. joined from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fellows in Madrid, Spain and Berlin, Germany connected from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Uniformly, the international Fellows expressed enthusiasm for the course, irrespective of the time-of-day they participated. One Fellow commented: “the course was interesting enough to convince me to wake-up for a 3 a.m. class start, even on a Saturday morning for Friday’s classes.” In all, 21 international Fellows connected virtually for what had previously been a U.S.-centric course.

Center staff and faculty stepped up to the challenge of providing necessary technical support to facilitate this innovative new IPOC format.

This course design used an active learning technique called “flipped learning” to allow Fellows to prepare for each of the 15 plenary sessions by engaging in professors’ asynchronous video lectures that were pre-recorded and uploaded for Fellows on the Center’s ILIAS Learning Management System (LMS). After viewing the asynchronous content in self-study, Fellows engaged each other in an online discussion forum to prepare for daily in-resident plenary discussions with their professors. Professor-led discussions on each plenary topic were immediately followed by seminar classes where faculty facilitated small group discussions and applied learning activities with the Fellows.

The key to this course’s success lay in its transference of cutting-edge information, self-reflection, and collective critical thinking. Fellows were encouraged to critically reflect on information learned through the course as they were invited to consider underlying assumptions about their worldviews. To that end, IPOC 21-1 offered 20 topical sessions that addressed the course’s terminal learning objective to provide an executive education experience. This experience prepared security practitioners to knowledgeably engage in cooperative security efforts that build capacity to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific where all recognize the linkages between good governance, rules-based order, and security.

An IPOC 21-1 Fellow takes advantage of the Maluhia Hall lanai to participate in the virtual discussions.

Each day began with a moderated panel discussion on the Free and Open Indo-Pacific that examined the strategic approaches to the Indo-Pacific by the United States; its partner nations of Australia, India, and Japan; its competitor nations of China and Russia; and sub-regional perspectives of the U.S. strategic approach to the region. Framed by a common understanding of the Indo-Pacific geopolitical landscape and security architecture, the course then explored the four sub-regional dynamics of Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Oceania. Predicated on the proposition that a free and open Indo-Pacific is contingent on national-levels of good governance, the course concluded each day with an in-depth examination of one of five security spheres, including economic security, gendered security, maritime security, environmental security, and cybersecurity.

The course objectives aligned with the Center’s Congressional mandate in U.S. Code Title 10 Section 342, and Department of Defense Directive 5200.41E by “offering executive-development strategic-security studies,” and “developing and sustaining relationships and communities of interest among security practitioners and national security establishments.”

DKI APCSS Director Pete Gumataotao provides feedback to the Course Management and Information Services team.

IPOC is a formal course at DKI APCSS that follows a model of participant-centered learning. The Center is a Department of Defense institute that addresses regional security issues. Military and civilian security practitioners from the United States and throughout the region participate in the Center’s broad offering of comprehensive security programs of executive education, professional exchanges, and outreach events that are offered in Hawaii and throughout the Indo-Pacific.

The Center supports U.S. Indo-Pacific Command by developing and sustaining relationships among security practitioners and national security establishments throughout the region. The mission of DKI APCSS is to build resilient capacity, shared understanding, and networked relationships among civilian and military practitioners and institutions to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific. Since opening in 1995, more than 14,000 alumni from over 136 locations have attended DKI APCSS courses and workshops.

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