Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New online classroom tool launches this fall to help law professors mix theory with practice

It's an online course tool called LegalED developed by Villanova Law Professor Michele Pistone that she will be using in her immigration law clinic this fall and will also be in use at other law schools around the country including American, Michigan State and the University of Utah.  According to the blog InformationWeek, Professor Pistone's platform blends video lectures that students watch prior to class with in-class exercises that involve the practical application of the theory discussed in those lectures.  It also enables participating professors to share classroom ideas, assessment tools and exercises among other resources. Here's a further description from IW:

A longtime criticism of law schools has been that although graduates are well-versed in legal analysis and reason, they lack the practical skills and professional values required of lawyers. It has long been common practice for associates to learn these skills during post-graduate jobs, with their professional educations paid for by their clients.

. . . .

Law professors must now alter their instruction to provide students with a more well-rounded education that includes the skills and behavior integral to the practice of law.

"The way I see the future of legal education is primarily one that involves blended learning," Pistone said in an interview.

If professors upload lecture videos online, she explained, there will be more time in class for students to collaborate, reinforce concepts and learn basic competencies that will help them become successful lawyers. Pistone embraces blended learning and offers practice-oriented lessons in her immigration law clinic. Her students use online videos as learning and reference tools as they apply legal doctrine to real-life cases.

Pistone illustrated the deficiency in practical law instruction with an explanation of how contracts are typically taught. Students learn contract doctrine in class, she said, but many never read a legitimate contract until after graduation. If professors were to make doctrine-related resources available online, students could read and draft contracts in class to better prepare for professional jobs.

. . . .

Pistone founded LegalED to inspire professors to experiment with blended instruction. As they include online resources in their curricula, instructors can share innovative teaching methods, access in-class exercises and assessment tools, and upload videos. Students who use LegalED will learn through video lectures that explain legal concepts.

Continue reading here.

Hat tip to Leigh Goodmark.



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