Online legal education – sharing the OU experience

Hardie, Liz and Wesemann, Anne (2020). Online legal education – sharing the OU experience. In: Society of Legal Scholars Virtual Annual Conference, 01/09/20-04/09/20, Exeter University, online.


With the pandemic, universities in general and law schools in particular are expected to respond with agile and knowledgeable online provision in their respective fields. Online legal education is something the OU law school has been practising for six years, with our LLB moving entirely online in 2014 and a whole new online LLB qualification due to be launched next year.

This paper will outline the challenges and opportunities of online learning with a focus on legal education. It will introduce online teaching as not just a mode of delivery of study materials but a different offering requiring distinctive pedagogy and specific approaches to the study of law. Drawing on the experiences of the Open University Law School and our scholarship in online learning, the paper will share lessons learned in relation to the way online learning and teaching significantly differ from traditional modes of predominantly face to face teaching, even where online elements are present. It will focus on issues specific to legal study which require careful thought and design in the online sphere including the use of text heavy readings, student collaboration and discussion and teaching legal skills.

It will provide an overview of benefits and challenges of online legal teaching and discuss possible approaches regarding provision of synchronous and asynchronous learning, student support and examination.

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