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From paper chase to cyberspace: A case study of two law professors' perceptions of their first experience team -teaching a multimedia online law school course

Randall D Burks, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Based primarily on multiple in-depth interviews, this qualitative case study examined how two law professors perceived their first experience teaching online. They team-developed and team-facilitated an asynchronous course using WebCT and custom video CDs for a large virtual class: over 130 students in residence in the Juris Doctor program of that accredited law school. Corroborating data was gathered from the Dean and 21 student volunteers. Notable perceptions included: (1) Teamwork made course development and facilitation more feasible and enjoyable. (2) The video CDs were equivalent to classroom lectures with PowerPoint slides but could also be reviewed frequently and conveniently. (3) Overall, achievement of online students on the final exam (proctored on campus) matched previous years' conventional courses, but the extremely high “A” exams surpassed the highest As typically scored in conventional courses. (4) Online quizzes and self-tests encouraged consistent study, and they apparently increased achievement by providing frequent formative evaluation—a rarity for law students. Some other student benefits included scheduling flexibility and avoiding some commutes to campus. (5) Quality of online interaction was equivalent to the conventional large lecture hall, but the professors and some students missed live interaction. (6) Some challenges included: professors wished for an introductory face-to-face session; students needed more self-discipline and more discussion board participation; enrollment seemed excessive; and the course was time-consuming. (7) Because Tax courses generally use the problem method and lectures rather than the Socratic casebook method common to first-year courses, the professors did not face the virtually-impossible task of simulating Socratic dialogue in an asynchronous online format. Participants generally perceived the online medium may be suitable only for courses beyond the first year. (8) Several online features would be transferable to the conventional course, including: written formative evaluation throughout the semester; an interactive course Web site including quizzes and discussion boards; and supplementary video CDs. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Curriculum and Instruction|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Burks, Randall D, "From paper chase to cyberspace: A case study of two law professors' perceptions of their first experience team -teaching a multimedia online law school course" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3147134.