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Aspiring lawyers have come out strongly against online tuition despite the law school giants opting to deliver the bulk of their courses via e-learning, the Lawyer2B Big Student Survey, in association with BPP Law School, reveals.
A whopping 85 per cent of more than 1,000 students surveyed signalled that face-to-face lectures are an essential component of postgraduate legal education. Only 8.9 per cent disagreed with this assertion.
The study further revealed that almost three-quarters would prefer full-time face-to-face lectures, while only 21.9 per cent opted for a partly online option, and a mere 4.4 per cent would want their course to be fully online.
The news emerges despite law school giant the College of Law (CoL) ditching face-to-face lectures in 2009 in favour of interactive i-tutorials.
CoL’s rival, BPP Law School (BPP), has also introduced more flexible modes of study in recent years, rolling out ’blended learning’, a combination of online and face-to-face tuition, for its entire portfolio.
CoL board member for programme innovation and design Scott Slorach argued that online lectures are extremely efficient in terms of cost and the level of knowledge retention.
“In terms of learning, face-to-face lectures come out bottom,” he claimed. “If you read you are likely to retain more, if you do something interactive it gives you higher retention still and, apparently, the highest retention of all is if the student actually teaches someone else.”
However, the law schools will have an uphill battle persuading students that their Legal Practice Courses (LPC) are worth the massive £12,000 fee, with web-based learning making up around 70 per cent of a 40-hour week on both the CoL and BPP full-time LPC.
CoL and BPP offer students approximately 10 and 14 hours of face-to-face contact per week on their LPCs respectively. The remaining hours are divided between i-tutorials or ’webinars’, online tests and independent reading and research.
Slorach said that cost per face-to-face lecture would equate to a similar cost to developing online material.
“For 200 people in a lecture room the only cost is the lecturer’s salary,” he asserted. “Divide their hourly rate per student and that isn’t much either. Sticking a camera up is certainly cheap and cheerful, but that’s not what we do.”
LPC provider Kaplan Law School remains the only one out of the dedicated postgraduate law schools not to jump on the online bandwagon, placing greater emphasis on face-to-face contact.