Paul L. Caron

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Graduate Level Distance Learning: Enhanced Student Experience, Significant Scalability Challenges

Karen Thornton, Steven L. Schooner & Markus Speidel (all of George Washington), Graduate Level Distance Learning: Enhanced Student Experience, Significant Scalability Challenges: A Multiyear Case Study, 69 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2020):

This article describes our experiences and "lessons learned" providing degree-based distance (online) education to graduate students (studying business, law, and policy related to government contracts or public procurement). Temporal note: our pilot, and the five years of experience described in this case study, predate the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic emergency distance teaching transition.

Among other things, we discuss our experiences with regard to fundamentally rethinking our pedagogical approach, "flipping the classroom," chunking, and scaffolded learning. We extol the benefits of working with, and being open to, advice from experienced instructional designers.

We conclude that embracing distance education, at least in a hybrid form, offers exciting opportunities for more effective teaching and student learning.

If thoughtfully and responsibly managed, the student learning experience in distance education not only compares favorably with, but may surpass, that found in the classic, amphitheater, quasi-Socratic or lecture-centric law course. Conversely, preparing to deliver and delivering quality distance education is time consuming, labor intensive, and, potentially, expensive and difficult. To reap the benefits and achieve the promise of distance education, law schools must embrace paradigm-shifting cultural change, a significant barrier for many faculty and institutions.

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