The mission of the SEALS Electronic Education Committee is to encourage the development of best practices for online and blended learning for individual faculty instructors, program development, law school administrations, and regulatory bodies. Through programs at SEALS and collaborations with committees at AALS, CALI, AccessLex, LSAC, and other associations working on the development of online, electronic, and blended education, the Electronic Education Committee fosters the development of teaching materials, pedagogical practices, and recommendations on governance norms.
SEALS 2020 Committee Highlights
So much has changed for legal education regarding online and electronic education as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and the universal adoption of at least some online courses as well as the increase in ABA variances for online legal education programs. The pandemic has also changed the practice of law, requiring lawyers to have skills in Zoom meetings, online verification of parties, and other technologies to support the practice of law in an online environment.
As an experiment, the Online Education Committee has launched a Discord site to supplement the ongoing interaction at its panels. Anyone from SEALS (or any ABA law school faculty and staff member) can join. The link is here: https://discord.gg/CFKSKEg
Lisa Smith-Butler and her colleagues at Charleston School of Law have created a “Libguide,” a digital bibliography on online learning as part of the SEALS Online Ed panels. It may be accessed at https://charlestonlaw.libguides.com/distance-education.
For the upcoming 2020 SEALS meeting, the Electronic Education Committee is sponsoring/cosponsoring six programs addressing a wide range of considerations for online, electronic, and blended education. The programs are:
- Discussion Group: Online & Hybrid Learning Pedagogy Best Practices and Standards Development
- Panel: Accreditation, State Regulation, and Variance Usage
- Panel: Developing Content for Online Courses
- Discussion Group: Law School Governance Surrounding Online Implementation
- Discussion Group: Best Practices for Online Instruction and Assessment
- Discussion Group: Master Class for Experienced Online Educators
The Discord chat and other projects may continue beyond the SEALS 2020 virtual meetings to help facilitate the rapid changes in teaching and learning in the online environment. If you want to join the committee, please let the chairperson, Jon Garon, know with an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Jon Garon (Nova Southeastern) (Chair) email@example.com
- Kenneth Randall (George Mason)
- Lisa Smith-Butler (Charleston)
- David Epstein (Richmond)
- Max Huffman (IU McKinney)
- Nina Kohn (Syracuse)
- Joe Harbaugh (Nova Southeastern)
- Jennifer Kinsley (Northern Kentucky)
- Christo Lassiter (Cincinnati)
- Vonda Laughlin (LMU)
- Doug Michael (Kentucky)
- Pamela Newell (NCCU)
- Chad Pomeroy (St. Mary’s)
- Brian Owsley (UNT Dallas), Brian.Owsley@untdallas.edu
- Gordon Russell (Lincoln Memorial)
- Brian Sites (Barry)
- Vickie Sutton (Texas Tech.)
- Michael Perlin (NYLS)
- Ellen Podgor (Stetson)
- Lucille Ponte (Florida Coastal)
- Sally Wise (Miami)
2021 Annual Report
With the shift to compulsory online education for most schools and colleges, including most law schools, the focus on the Online Education Committee has shifted from promoting the potential of online and blended education to understanding the lessons that have been learned from the forced conversion to online education. The questions to be explored in the 2021 SEALS programming essentially ask the questions: (1) what have we learned from the experience; (2) what best practices should become part of all learning modalities; (3) what role should online education take within legal education once distance learning is no longer a requirement. These three categories of discussion lead to many more specific questions to explore on teaching, learning, and institutional culture.
The Committee has developed a strong slate of six programs for the SEALS 2021 program.
- The Business of Online Legal Education—Accreditors and External Stakeholders Interests in Shaping Online Education
- How to Assure Effective Formative and Summative Assessment
- Lessons Learned from the 2020 Forced Expansion of Online Education
- Practical Considerations for Online, Hybrid and Blended Instruction
- Online & Hybrid Learning Pedagogy Best Practices and Standards Development
- Initial Thoughts on the Law School of 2050—An Academic Master Plan for the Law School of the Future
The Committee knows that the pervasive change to online education has also encouraged many other sections and programs to explore online education. The rapid adoption of online learning tools will have a profound long-term impact on pedagogy and culture within law schools. In future years, the committee will continue to explore these issues as well.
The discussion group, “Practical Considerations for Online, Hybrid and Blended Instruction” will also meet at AALS. This open discussion allows participants to convene twice each year to explore best practices, and will continue to look at updating “Distance Learning in Legal Education: Design, Delivery and Recommended Practices.”
We welcome new members to the Committee. Following the conclusion of SEALS, we will review the feedback on this year’s programs and explore how to enhance the programs for next year. If you would like to join the Committee, please email the chair, Jon Garon (Garon@nova.edu).
2017 Annual Report
Electronic Education Committee members reviewed the Committee’s activities and programs and considered ways to establish a closer working relationship with CALI (Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction). Members discussed possibilities with CALI executive director, John Mayer, at the June CALIcon meeting. CALI is the organization that facilitated publication of Distance Learning in Legal Education: Design, Delivery and Recommended Practices, which is posted on the SEALS page under the Distance Learning link. Several of our Committee members are involved with this project, and an update to the current publication is under consideration. The Electronic Education Committee is seeking ways to contribute to this project. The Committee also submitted a call for short (2 to 4 page) papers focusing on the use of online education strategies and/or technologies as part of a course or instructional program. The Committee is considering making this an ongoing project.
Committee members recognize the growing importance of online learning in legal education and its impact, not only on faculty, but across the law school. The need for expanded awareness and understanding of the multi-faceted importance of distance learning is reflected in the Committee’s 2017 programs. The Committee developed two Workshops on Electronic Education, one focusing on “Cool Tools” and one on Learning Management Systems. The Committee also collaborated on Workshop on Teaching programs, including one focused on Technology Pedagogy and another on Institutional Repositories. Ken Randall has been appointed co-chair of the Electronic Education Committee, and members are looking forward to an ongoing discussion of the Committee’s role in facilitating and supporting electronic education in legal education.
2016 Annual Report
Several members of our Distance Education Committee are also members of the Working Group on Distance Learning in Legal Education, and information about this project is posted as a link under the SEALS homepage Distance Learning tab. Thanks to the work of this group, including our members, the publication, Distance Learning in Legal Education: Design, Delivery and Recommended Practices was completed and copies have been sent to all law school deans. This is a tremendous accomplishment, and members of our Committee were key participants in making this happen.
In preparation for SEALS 2016, Committee members discussed past years’ activities and programs that were sponsored and offered by the Distance Education Committee. From 2012 through 2014 our Committee presented EXPOs offering real-time opportunities for SEALS members to view and interact with law courses taught online at various law schools. At the 2015 Conference, our Committee organized a Workshop on Distance Learning with four separate programs focusing on different aspects of Distance Education. After reviewing the Committee’s Distance Education programs and activities we decided to reprise our 2015 program, Distance Learning and Legal Education: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow with a discussion program including many of the participants from 2015. We are also seeking to survey SEALS members and member schools to determine how the changes in ABA Standards is or may impact the role that Distance Learning in Legal Education.