Professor Ronald Colombo’s paper titled “Teaching a Synchronous Online Business Organizations Course to J.D. Students: A Case Study” was recently listed on SSRN’s Top Ten downloaded list.
Although distance learning, in one form or another, is no longer a new phenomenon, its employment by American law schools remains relatively recent. As such, there are few resources, and even less data available, to the legal educator who wishes to pursue this increasingly prevalent method of teaching. This article hopes to address this paucity, by contributing a case study of one particular experience at one particular school to the body of literature available.
The first half of this article reviews the literature to date regarding distance learning as applied to legal education. This literature review should serve as a valuable resource for anyone researching or otherwise interested in the subject.
The second half of this article features a personal case study in teaching an online, synchronous distance learning class at an accredited law school. In the summer of 2019, the course “Business Organizations” was offered to J.D. students at Hofstra University’s Maurice A. Deane School of Law in such a format for the first time. The course was completely synchronous, conducted primarily via group videoconferencing technology. As will be explained in the pages to follow, the experience exceeded expectations set for this undertaking on a number of fronts. In a nutshell, rather than serving as a second-best form of instruction, justifiable on grounds of convenience and efficiency, the course demonstrated that no sacrifice in educational quality necessarily accompanies online legal education. Moreover, the conclusion drawn from this experience is that online legal education has the potential to exceed traditional, in-person forms of legal education.
Along the way, my philosophy of education, and my approach to teaching, will inevitably be revealed in bits and pieces. I hope this serves to enrich the article, rather than to detract from it.
Read the full paper on the SSRN website.