Perception of Online Legal Education among Recently Retired Law School Faculty

by Robert W Bigelow

Institution: Capella University
Year: 2017
Keywords: Law; Pedagogy; Educational technology; Higher education
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2153640
Full text PDF: http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=10680562


Within some areas of traditional legal education there has been discussion of and advocacy for greater acceptance and integration of online technology. This study addresses the enormous gap in the legal literature concerning perceptions of online legal education and adds to the robust body of literature concerning perceptions of online education in general, with a focus on a specific type of institution: law school. This qualitative exploratory study involved the collection and analysis of perceptions among 15 recently retired full-time faculty members from traditional brick-and-mortar law schools regarding online legal education. Through a process of examination and coding, this research identified and clarified topics and patterns in the data. Perceived benefits of online learning in law school included its facilitation of a diversity of learning styles, improved accessibility, and a reduction of fear and pressure. Critical perceptions included worries over the loss of physical face-to-face presence, reduction of fear and pressure, and possible incompatibility with clinical legal education. Other concerns involved engagement/discipline in online (and live) education, the approach of some for-profit institutions, technological issues, cheating, and class size (in live and online settings). The findings suggest a relationship between exposure to and appreciation of online learning and an anomalous relationship (with caveats) between faculty gender and appreciation of online learning. Future studies should examine the effectiveness of all forms of delivery of legal education, with emphasis on whether online education is used to replicate traditional law school education or to accommodate different learning styles through distinct pedagogies.