Graduate Level Distance Learning: Enhanced Student Experience, Significant Scalability Challenges: A Multiyear Case Study

27 Pages Posted: 28 May 2020

See all articles by Karen Thornton

Karen Thornton

George Washington University - Law School

Steven L. Schooner

George Washington University - Law School

Markus Speidel

George Washington University - Law School

Abstract

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.

Keywords: distance education, online teaching, flipped classroom, scaffolded learning, instructional design, lessons learned, learning objectives, outcome assessment, culture change, growth mindset, chunking, microlearning, learning management systems, government contracts, public procurement

JEL Classification: H57, I20 (that "i"), K00

Suggested Citation

Thornton, Karen and Schooner, Steven L. and Speidel, Markus, Graduate Level Distance Learning: Enhanced Student Experience, Significant Scalability Challenges: A Multiyear Case Study. Journal of Legal Education (2020 Forthcoming), GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2020-34, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2020-34, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3612765

Karen Thornton

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

Steven L. Schooner (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-3037 (Phone)
202-994-5614 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.gwu.edu/steven-l-schooner

Markus Speidel

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

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