February 16, 2018
Why Distance Learning is the Future of Legal Education
By: H.S. Hart -
(First posted in Spring 2018)
According to Forbes' James Marshall Crotty, distance learning has been around since 1892. Who am I to argue with a contributing writer at Forbes.com? It used to be called "correspondence school." Nowadays, companies like Khan Academy, Blueprint LSAT Prep, and Ivy League schools, have perfected distance learning by incorporating technology and learning science. Studies actually show* that blended learning (a combination of in-class and distance learning) is more effective than either method alone.
I have a bird's eye view of Southwestern's first-year evening students' walking from their cars to class. To be honest, I don't know how they do it. But they do! Night after night, Monday through Thursday, they leave their jobs, kiss their kids, start their engines, and fight traffic to study law.
I am not sure if the word got out that as of Fall 2017, first-year evening students attend LAWS one night a week virtually (aka from a distance; aka not on campus; aka from anywhere they please). Think about it, people are searching for love online... why not law?
I don't mean to be flippant. Distance learning, when done correctly offers more benefits than just convenience. Professor Anahid Gharakhanian (shown surrounded by a green aura below with her class) reports increased engagement and nearly perfect attendance. Her students also appreciate not having to fight traffic - but it is more than that. Some students save two hours of commuting time. That is time that can be spent with family and friends...or a NAP!
Not having to survive a Los Angeles rush hour commute reduces stress, increases attention span and just puts students in a receptive mindset that is more conducive to learning than the frenzied panic that overtakes students when they are running late.
Be sure to check the background when attending class via webcam.
We hear stories!!!
*"In recent experimental and quasi-experimental studies contrasting blends of online and face-to-face instruction with conventional face-to-face classes, blended instruction has been more effective. When used by itself, online learning appears to be as effective as conventional classroom instruction, but not more so" (p. xviii). The U.S. Department of Education