Virtual education is an extension of ‘distance learning’ where students learn all or most of the time being outside of their college or school or we can say learn online by use of technology aided such as laptop, television, radio etc. By sudden outbreak of Covid-19 in the nation, the education had to convert their teaching in online mode but the question stands in front of us is whether virtual legal education will improve service delivery or will it contribute to the challenges faced by the nation today and can lawyering be taught virtually.
In this current scenario where pandemic like Covid-19 has made impossible for educational institutes to open, what can be the solution to it? Is it so simple to just study online where there is no personal communication between teachers and students or just by simply opening laptops and listening to teachers of what are they trying to teach.
One solution is either just accept the virtual education or wait for things to get normal and then let institutes to reopen. The challenges can never be so easy, the solution adopted should be adjustments to be made by students and try learn with all possible methods and not giving a pause to their learning minds. Most of the students are equipped with digital technology to learn remotely and solve the present crisis due to Covid-19. This may prove to be an ideal time to experiment and explore different methods of learning and utilizing time to be creative and deploy new tools making learning meaningful. This will not only be helping their learning but also enhance professional qualities by making them used to technologies and adapt in every challenging environment.
The problems with virtual legal education can be that there are not enough teachers using virtual classrooms and every student may not have internet connectivity in distant areas. Secondly, sudden change in education system may lead to under performance by students and fear of missing out on what is been taught. Thirdly, the another problem of this can be that in legal area of education , instant question answers by students and active engagement has to be there in class to make learning more efficient which can be a challenge in virtual teaching. Also, students don’t find virtual teaching impactful and find it more of a boring lecture due to no personal communication and teaching environment.
There can be benefits of learning at economic rates and don’t stop the education merely because of some difficulties. It ensures continuity in learning and no break in studies so that students don’t find it difficult to cope up later with huge burden on their heads to cover the course in short period of time and not delay in ending the semesters.
The abovementioned problems can be solved by proper planning before conducting virtual classes as engagement between teacher and student can be made real even after being at distance. This has been proved by various toppers who have been selected or topped their respective examinations by just studying via online sources and self-study. This will save not only cost but time also.
Virtual legal education can be a way forward by constructive method of holding class and assessments to determine the problems faced by students. This sort of method will also ensure transparency in teaching as it will be provided to all comprising of same content in the same manner and not differentiating students on the basis of their rank or marks. Extra notes and various materials can be provided to students in more simplified manner to make understanding even better.
The virtual education will lead to new era wherein best of faculty will be available from across the globe to students and this will ensure quality education with qualified teachers.
One big concern of teachers in online education can be of having adequate student participation like in class, you can adopt a “panel system” or a general class participation requirement and keep some kind of tally or record of how engaged a student is and also by self-recognition , you can know about how often the student has attended the lectures and been active. But to solve this problem, Online it is easier to know than the actual classrooms as it easily tracks how often student logs in and also keep an eye on how they contribute to class discussions; engages in interactive quizzes etc. also, it provides for a feature where Students can be graded for participating on discussion boards, credited for watching class videos.
Online teaching can be different from classroom teaching in significant manner can be just the maximum number of participation the teacher can have for an efficient teaching session as it huge number of students in one time makes it impossible for teachers to observe each and every student and keeping a track on the student, it is difficult to monitor discussion boards and student participation during the video chats.
After all the adjustments made inevitably , the teachers have proven by bucking up with the remaining reading material and leftover courses and thereby conducting assessments and assignments and did their best to provide leadership and guidance to students by confronting each and every problem faced by students and overcoming their own obstacles. Several law students also were found to be consistent with whatever best they could do improve upon their learning skills and navigated the transition through zoom or any other suitable platform. Students also find an advantage of not been asked with random questions which they cannot answer in front of everyone and feel embarrassed as they now only focus on what is being taught and concentrate on classes. Another way of getting classroom recorded help them to look over it again and again whenever they come across any doubt and make notes on their own by listening to recorded lectures. Not only legal studies are conducted online successfully but also various webinar by distinguished speakers enhancing their knowledge and presentation skills , moot court competitions or any improving upon writing and drafting skills, all of the major areas tobe covered as a law student can be focused by virtual training.
This sudden switch in method of teaching and learning will also prepare both teachers and students for future unexpected situations where they have to hold sessions virtually by not creating any void and breaking the chain in education and their learning.
“virtual presence does not mean actual absence”
When there are so many explorations and experiments in various fields of education then why not virtual education can be a part of it as it is a good time of experiment where new delivery modes, staffing practices and discussion of students can be checked about how things work and how can they be improved if not working. There are preconceived notions in the minds of students and some instructors that classroom and personalized teaching is only appropriate for learning but what can be in the best interests of students can only be discovered by testing and then observing the difference in results as students are the only ultimate stakeholders. There are law deans who are considering venturing online offerings and identifying ideas and presenting them in front of everyone. We should think before we leap.