The New Normal: Blended Learning in Law Schools
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many law schools had to come up with a different strategy for delivering in-person content for large class sizes. If you’re reading this, it’s likely because you’re a law student experiencing this new normal. This Article is going to talk all about “blended learning,” and how to navigate this style in law school.
What is blended learning?
“Blended learning” refers to an educational approach that combines online content or media as well as face-to-face or in-person teaching. So, the student is learning at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, or pace of that online content.
Online learning creates a shift from face-to-face instruction with your professor to web-based content and instruction, such as live or pre-recorded lectures. Online learning has many advantages. It allows the student to control the pace of their instruction. For example, you have the ability in a recorded lecture to pause, go back, or skip forward through certain online content. Further, you may even have control over the time in which you participate in online learning – you can choose the time at which you do your online learning and choose the location from which you want to do it from.
Then, in addition to the online learning experience, the student experiences class in a physical classroom. This allows you to have some face-to-face and in-person interactions with your professors and other students. If you watch lectures online, for example, the classroom may be the area where you go over and study hypotheticals with your professor, allowing for a more interactive and robust discussion and experience since you’ve already watched the lecture online. This dual-experience essentially makes up a blended classroom.
An Integrated and Blended Learning Experience
Although law school online may sound intimidating or scary, a blended curriculum or blended classroom gives students an integrated learning experience. If you are in a blended torts class, the online and face-to-face components will work together to deliver an integrated course. This means that you might watch your intentional torts lecture online, and then your in-class experience will be to answer intentional torts questions with your professor or argue a case in class with other students and your professor. The traditional classroom lecture has simply moved online, allowing face-to-face time to be used for asking questions, having in-depth discussions, and practicing problems.
Blended learning can allow you to learn material at your own pace. This learning environment offers flexible time frames that can be personalized to each person. Further, using online technology, you can tailor your learning personally to you and how you best learn, rather than trying to keep up with a fast-paced lecture in an environment you’re uncomfortable in. With the in-person component of your class, blended learning also opens the possibility for more discussion and communication in-person, and allows for a focus on deeper learning where you can spend more time in the classroom outside of strict and rigid lectures.
Let’s quickly review and summarize the benefits of blended learning:
- It provides you with autonomy and control over your learning.
- You’ll become self-driven and self-advocate for yourselves to reach your goals.
- It provides you with a strong sense of ownership over your learning.
- You can learn at your own pace.
- You can actively engage with your professors and the material more.
Tips for Learning in a Blended Classroom
Although blended learning can take some time adjusting to, utilize these tips in order to guarantee your success in this type of environment.
- Make a detailed schedule. Because of the autonomy blended learning may give you, it’s important to come up with a detailed schedule each week. The more structure you give yourself when you make your own schedule, the more organized and prepared you will be. For example, you want to schedule the following items:
- Reading for class;
- Watching lectures;
- Attending in-person class;
- Doing practice problems;
- Studying for exams
- Set weekly goals. In a blended learning environment, you have to take control of your own learning. So, try to make three or five weekly goals for yourself with your learning. What do you want to have understood this week? Which subjects do you want to do practice problems in? Which sections of your notes do you want to outline? These weekly goals will not only help you stay on track, but they will also allow you to better take control over your learning.
- Write down questions as you have them. If you get to see your professor in-person in the blended learning model, you want to be as prepared as possible. Writing questions down as you have them, and keeping a list of these questions, will allow you to be efficient and effective during your in-person class time.
- Choose a set online learning space. Set up a place that you’ll use strictly for online learning. Keep it organized and have all of the tools you need there in order to attend class online and take notes. Make sure this space has minimal distractions. Your online class time is just as crucial and should be treated the same as in-person class time. So, you want to set up your space for success.
- Stay motivated. Remind yourself why you went to law school. Write it on a post-it note and put it in your study space. When you’re feeling any lack of motivation – look at it. Always remember that your end goal is to do well and to succeed in law school, so engage in activities that keep you motivated and focused!
Law schools are giving blended learning a try, and although it seems nerve-wracking, there are many benefits to this model of education. Stay focused and diligent, and set yourself up for success.