Navigating the Changing Terrain of Online Legal Studies: An Instructional Design Perspective from Texas A&M School of Law

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Online legal studies requires instructional designers to navigate certain challenges to support faculty in adopting the best online teaching practices. This panel offers the perspective of instructional designers from Texas A&M's School of Law, reflecting on design strategies, difficulties, and emerging trends in online graduate legal education.

Extended Abstract

The terrain of online graduate-level legal education has changed in recent years due to the consistent growth in admissions, the updates to the JD distance education parameters set by the American Bar Association, and the “new normal” precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This panel reflects on the ways course designers--both instructional design staff and faculty members--have confronted these challenges. Using Texas A&M’s School of Law as a case study, the presenters discuss strategies for working successfully within the law school learning environment. 

Although the panelists focus on online legal studies, the session would be of interest to any faculty or staff member working in higher education, online educational technologies, or legal education. The session contributes to ongoing discussions about effective online course design, especially for programs targeting nontraditional learners within a professional school environment. The panelists seek to uncover the gaps in online education and offer practical solutions based on real-world insights.

During the session, the panelists will co-present on: 1) the institutional context of graduate legal studies and its obstacles for effective course design; 2) best practices for meeting the demands of a fast-growing online student body by creating accessible and collaborative courses for working professionals; 3) working productively with the Law School’s tenured and adjunct professional faculty as well as other campus partners; and 4) future directions for online learning and legal education. 

The presentation will address the following questions: What are some best practices in creating effective online courses for professional students? How can one work effectively with faculty, both tenured and adjunct, in creating course content? Where are the possibilities for collaboration within and between law schools? What are the biggest challenges facing online legal education today? And what are emerging trends in graduate legal education?