Sunday, March 20, 2016

Prof says law schools should embrace online education

Professor Max Huffman (Indiana) argues in a newly published article, Online Learning Grows Up -- And Heads to Law School, 49 Ind. L. Rev. 57 (2015) that law schools should embrace online education for several reason including reduced tuition costs to students, increased flexibility, improved student diversity and better learning outcomes (with respect to the latter, but see this meta-analysis of online learning by the U.S. Department of Education published in 2010).  You can also find Professor Huffman's article on SSRN here. From the abstract:

Online education is now in the mainstream. Schools use online teaching methods as early as elementary school and thousands of students across the country pursue their entire high school studies online. Undergraduate and graduate programs are offered online. At Indiana University, where I teach, there are nearly fifty undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees offered entirely online. An increasing percentage of law students have taken at least one, and some have taken several, online courses before matriculating into the JD program.

The legal academy has been slow to catch on. Perhaps wedded to a Langdellian view of teaching by casebook and Socratic methods, law schools’ primary accrediting agency, the American Bar Association (“ABA”), limits opportunities for online learning in law schools. No student may take courses online in his or her first year and, in the absence of a variance, the maximum number of credits students may take online in a JD program is fifteen. ABA-accredited online law schools are several years away — at least in regards the JD degree.

The academy's recalcitrance is a mistake. Online legal education promises reduced costs for students, increased flexibility, a more diverse student population in any one course, degree, or sub-degree program, and improved learning outcomes. Law schools that recognize this opportunity and seize it, paying close attention to learning outcomes and pedagogically sound course design, will earn a competitive advantage while benefiting their students.


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Ugh, no. In my experience, the undergrad institutions that have embraced online courses have seen the quality of education go down significantly. That's not something we need to see in law schools.

Posted by: Nick | Mar 20, 2016 8:05:38 AM

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