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Why this Law School Dean Believes in the Power of an Online J.D.

Written by Molly Forman on Apr 20, 2020

Related content: Graduate Programs, Digital Education

As dean of the University of Dayton School of Law, Andrew Strauss has witnessed first-hand the impact a Juris Doctor (J.D.) program can deliver online. The University of Dayton is one of only four ABA-accredited schools currently operating under an ABA variance that allows them to offer an online J.D. program, which the University of Dayton delivers in partnership with 2U. Now, the University of Dayton is one of many, with coronavirus requiring every ABA law school in the country to go virtual. And there’s a chance online is here to stay: On March 6, the ABA issued a proposal to eliminate its prohibition on online J.D. programs. If the proposal goes into effect, Andrew believes legal education will never be the same—and perhaps that’s a good thing.

“I already know what law schools all over the country are in the process of discovering,” he said in an op-ed for The National Jurist. “Online legal education works, and in some respects is superior to the traditional on the ground model.”

In his op-ed, Andrew shares three proof points to support his theory that an online J.D. can be as good as—if not better than—the on-campus offering.

#NoBackRow. In residential classes, students have the opportunity to disengage in the back of the classroom. Online, they don’t have that option. Students interact in real-time with their professors, solidifying a strong interpersonal connection between teacher and student.

At 2U, we know this experience to be true across the breadth of our partner portfolio. According to the results of a survey we conducted with Gallup this year, 77% of participants (all alumni of 2U-powered programs) strongly agreed they had at least one professor at their graduate institution who excited them about learning, compared with 67% of recent post-secondary graduates nationally.

Asynchronous Video. For Andrew, asynchronous is a game-changer. Pre-produced and highly interactive asynchronous material necessitates student participation. Whether that’s through discussion trees or multiple-choice questions within a video, asynchronous provides new ways to engage with legal doctrine. The example Andrew offers is of the Socratic method, a staple of legal education that involves a professor asking one student probing questions to get to the heart of the subject matter and stimulate critical thinking. 2U’s Bidirectional Learning Tool® allows faculty to employ the Socratic method online and use it to actively engage every student.

Accessibility. Online makes law school available to more people in more places. Both synchronous and asynchronous classes offer flexible learning opportunities.

Are you interested in learning more about Andrew’s perspective on online legal education and what the future holds? Read his op-ed in its entirety on The National Jurist.

Learn more about us.

At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.