AuthorRebecca Purdom - Greg Brandes - Karen Westwood
Chapter 1
Collecting Challenges, Solutions, and Best
Practices for Deans, Faculty, and
There is little doubt that distance education is becoming one of the standard forms of instruction for
American students at all levels of teaching. The impact of distance approaches has already been
significant at the secondary level. Colleges are increasingly making distance offerings available, and
graduate programs, such as law, are in the early stages of following suit. Distance learning is not just the
province of for-profit and entry-level colleges; some of the nation’s most prestigious universities are
jumping on board. When the Working Group first met in 2011,
Stanford was already experimenting with
free, massive online courses, and MIT had just opened up virtually all of its instruction on a non-credit
basis in a free, online format it calls “open courseware”.
Over the years the Working Group has met, this
stream of developments has become a torrent. Stanford’s experiment has led to its own iTunes U channel
and helped to catalyze the formation of the for-profit outlet Coursera.
Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, and a
host of other institutions have countered with their own online education portalEdXoffering free
courses from their catalogs.
MOOCsMassive Open Online Courseshave come, made a splash, and then
been declared a failure by pop-culture and the blogosphere.
In the meantime, schools across the spectrum
have adopted online and distance learning as a guiding force in their pedagogy.
Several forces are driving these developments. Some are technical. The ubiquity of broadband Internet
access has created opportunities for new forms of instructional delivery, allowing distance learning to
move far beyond the “talking heads on the TV screen” history of such efforts as the University on the
This wo rkin g paper owes its existence to the collegiality and generousness of hundreds of participants in the Working Group
for Distance Learning in Legal Education (WGDLLE). In eight collaborative working sessions over three and a half years, these
colleagues gave openly of their expertise and time, to collect practices and tools, organize issues and their solutions, and prepare
this paper to share with the legal education community. The participants are literally too numerous to mention, but a partial list of
these individuals and their institutions is in Appendices H and I.
(Take the worlds best courses online, for free” – see
Dan Friedman, The MOOC Revolution That Wasn’t, TechCrunch, (Sept. 11, 2014),

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