For the most part, Law students don’t believe their online J.D. experience during the pandemic has met their learning needs.
A recent study done in collaboration by Gallup and the AccessLex Institute found that less than half of all students agreed strongly (13%) or somewhat (29%) that their online J.D. experience during the pandemic met their learning needs. On the other hand, 1L students reported much more positively to the online learning environment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic provided higher education an unexpected natural experiment that we can learn from as we continue to examine new ways to integrate online learning into historically in-person programs,” Stephanie Marken, Executive Director for Education Research at Gallup, says in a press release. “Although many law students were frustrated by their online experiences, the research identifies successes that can inform a post-pandemic evolution for law schools nationally.”
ONLINE LEARNING HERE TO STAY
According to the report, before March 2020, less than 10 law schools offered online hybrid J.D. programs approved by the ABA. Nearly one year later, in spring 2020, nearly every law school did.
The study also found that part-time students were four times more likely to recommend online J.D. learning to others than full-time students. Additionally, one of the biggest benefits of online learning was the increase in time that students had to take care of family members.
With many states in the U.S. offering vaccines, the upcoming fall semester will likely include a return to in-person learning for many law schools, experts say.
“To mitigate health risks, many are planning safety measures like mandatory vaccination, frequent coronavirus tests and social distancing,” Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News writes. “Many also plan to maintain remote learning options to accommodate international students, students with health concerns and others unable to attend classes in person.”
Aaron N. Taylor, Executive Director of the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence, says that the future of online learning looks bright – if law schools can implement it well enough.
“Online classes offer the promise of expanding access to law school,” Taylor says in a press release. “And if law schools use intentionality in their program design, quality of online courses can improve across the board – and something important will have been gained from a year that was incredibly difficult for everyone.”