2020 was a singular year. Who would have thought at the start of the year, that the world would shutdown and come to a virtual standstill?
Streets are empty. Travel and tourism have disappeared. Countless restaurants and small stores have closed. I fear many will not reopen.
Schools and universities are also closed. Classes and lectures have been transitioned online to virtual classrooms.
I have been teaching for several years: at a university, to practicing lawyers and judges, and private students.
One the most effective teaching styles I found was to make the lectures interactive – to get the students involved and participating as much as possible.
In American law schools, the ‘Socratic Method’ is a major feature. It forces students to be involved in the discussion and is very effective in teaching.
Students learn more when part of the lecture and part of the education process.
However, it is very difficult to have interactive lectures online – especially with new students. I have found when I knew the students already, it was a little easier; but with students I had not taught before, it was hard to get them to participate in online classes.
In short, I was not satisfied with the system of virtual lectures. It appeared as if we kept the worst part of the existing system of learning (passive listening), but discarded the best aspects (the interaction).
There must be a better way.
On the other hand, there are possibilities within online learning that have great potential and can be excellent tools in learning. Indeed, some of these can be far more effective than typical in-person teaching. In the 21st Century, we have some great technologies available to us.
So why doesn’t education make use of these innovations to enhance learning?
An online course can make use of exercises or short quizzes that both test and reinforce the student’s knowledge of the material just taught.
Other tools, such as flashcards, are a great resource to study the material and review as necessary.
Students can re-watch the video lessons or re-listen to the listening exercises again and again. If one section is difficult, the student can repeat that section until they master it.
If they run into problems and need help, they can post their question online and it can be answered promptly. These Q&A’s can be used by other students as well. (Or used by the instructor to incorporate the answers into the lessons).
This is using the online technology to increase the learning.
Although I had been considering a site about Legal English for a couple years, it was not until the Pandemic and my experiences teaching online that gave me the impetus to work on this. The idea for these e-courses is to incorporate the best new technology in learning, so to help our students improve their Legal English skills.
Education and learning must adopt to this new technology (and online lectures is not the way to do to this).
The courses from 4 Legal English
were made to maximize the advantageous of technology that are available today.