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Posts Tagged ‘Distance Learning’

Distance Learning and Its Implications for Legal Education

Posted by William Byrnes on June 29, 2016

Fulbright Specialist Prof. William Byrnes (Texas A&M Law) was invited to address India’s National Board of Accreditation and receive an award for his pioneering efforts with online pedagogical methods in the early nineties.

His remarks address developing learning outcomes and effective pedagogical practices with an emphasis on distance learning. The remarks cover the following topics: Review of the Effectiveness of Distance Learning, Developing Learning Outcomes, Occupational Outcomes Framing Learning Outcomes, Information Acquisition, Information Delivery, Learning Communities, Learning Media, Learner Motivation, Knowledge Acquisition and Learning Tools.  See the distance education white paper at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2487679

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Dr. Chris Odionu joins Texas A&M Law

Posted by William Byrnes on October 13, 2015

Texas A&M University School of Law announces the hiring of Dr. Chris Odionu as the Director of Odionu
Distance Education Programs and adjunct professor teaching project management. His prior positions include director of the System-Wide Center for Distributed Learning at California State University, chief information officer and associate professor of technology at Alabama A&M University. He also served as chief information officer at a number of institutions including University of Detroit Mercy, St John’s University in Jamaica – Queens, New York, and the Minnesota Community College System at Normandale Community College.

“Chris’ multi-disciplinary reach of engineering, IT, project management and a doctorate in education is going to propel Texas A&M Law’s pedagogical approach to the frontier for career based law programs, said William Byrnes, Executive Professor and Associate Dean. “By example, Texas A&M’s Business Law focus is to mentor the Aggie to add value and generate revenue.  The process requires the Aggie to learn a business by studying its language, its industry, and commonalities among all business such as supply chain and project management.  Dr. Chris Odionu is a distinguishing hire by a law school because he brings these perspectives to the table.”

“I am excited joining the TAMU School of Law and working with Professor Byrnes to establish world-class graduate law programs,” replied Dr. Odionu. “It is interesting to see law schools finally using the strengths offered by technology to deliver courses and degree programs online.”

Chris is a fellow of the American Academy of Project Management (AAPM), and certified in the governance of enterprise information technology, and in risk and information systems control (CRISC). He received his bachelor’s degree in technology, MBA, and doctorate in educational technology and administration from the University of Houston. He served as an administrative fellow in a year-long academic program at Harvard University where he earned a certificate in administration.

“Chris’ hands-on understanding of big data and data warehouse techniques combined with his background as an associate professor of information systems is going to distinguish Texas A&M’s curriculum, particularly in tax and business,” added Andrew P. Morriss, Dean and Anthony G. Buzbee Dean’s Endowed Chair.  “His background will also immediately translate into a project management course for law students and lawyers, which is fast becoming a crucial skill for lawyers.  And he will be providing a unique exposure for our students to the best practices in tax risk management.”

Chris has two children – Janelle, a student at Cornell University, and Christian, Jr., who plays high school basketball.

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Educational Teaching Methodologies to Reverse Declining Law School Enrollment

Posted by William Byrnes on July 28, 2015

read the CNN Report about the White Paper “Alternative Methods of Teaching and The Effectiveness of Distance Learning For Legal Education”.

The 26 page White Paper is available on SSRN

“legal education today has to be recalibrated so that it is innovative, cross-disciplinary, simultaneously accessible across global borders, and able to expand without millions of dollars for brick and mortar…”

“law schools are experiencing 40% less enrollment today than in years past and new standards are needed to reverse that decline. These new standards address the three missing elements in legal education today: …”

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Hiring Distance Education Director

Posted by William Byrnes on May 14, 2015

Texas A&M is seeking to hire a distance education full time position to execute upon and manage such programs.  Please refe Texas r any potentially interested distance education persons to the Texas A&M link:   https://jobpath.tamu.edu/postings/83039

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Distance Learning Faculty Enrichment Discussion at University of Arizona College of Law Tomorrow

Posted by William Byrnes on April 8, 2015

University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law will host a faculty enrichment presentation tomorrow April 9 from 12 noon (room 237) (PPT –> Arizona WGDE 4-9-15 Final).

“I will introduce the topic with various empirical studies of distance learning pedagogy and outcomes, before turning teaching phototo the findings of the Work Group of Distance Learning for Legal Education’s Best Practice Recommendations for Distance Learning for Legal Education 2.0,” stated William Byrnes.  “The Work Group is an evolving project of faculty and administrators participating from approximately 83 ABA law schools, representative of the four tiers, and its Recommendations are collaboratively developed and authored over a four year period.”

“In 2014 the American Bar Association revised Standard 306 “Distance Education”, expanding opportunities and flexibility for institutions to leverage technological advances within the JD academic curriculum.” explained Byrnes. “The ABA initially acquiesced to an online LL.M. in 1998.  Yet, it is since the initial inception of the Work Group in 2010 that most of the 48 LL.M.s offered online by 30 ABA full approved law schools have been founded.” Byrnes exclaimed, “One ABA law school, William Mitchell, even received a variance to offer a hybrid, partially residential / partially online, JD.  It matriculated 85 candidates in its pioneer class, at its normal LSAT range.”

“As of 2015, nearly all ABA law schools offer the opportunity for an academic experience at a distance for J.D. students,” concluded Byrnes. “But many are still not leveraging communication technologies to enhance that experience and to assist with producing better learning outcomes”.

previous remarks available at Alternative Methods of Teaching and the Effectiveness of Distance Learning for Legal Education

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Professor William Byrnes Develops Online Teaching Methodologies And Distance Learning In Face Of Disabilities

Posted by William Byrnes on September 29, 2014

William Byrnes pioneered the “online classroom” so he could continue teaching, despite a prognosis of lifetime disabilities resulting from traumatic injury. The program he developed to guarantee his future employment has now become a groundbreaking distance learning model used by higher education institutions and the U.S. military.

Byrnes suffered life threatening injuries in an African ski country accident and spent six months in the hospital undergoing grueling recovery from physical and brain trauma. Doctors could not predict his level of recovery, nor his future quality of life. In an effort to prepare himself for a productive future, Byrnes developed online, multi-media teaching methodologies that effectively ignore disability. ….

read the full article at International Business Times

Professor William Byrnes released remarks in the form of a white paper about teaching photodistance education methodologies called Alternative Methods of Teaching and The Effectiveness of Distance Learning For Legal Education.

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Professor Byrnes Leads Online Education Workshop

Posted by William Byrnes on September 26, 2014

Professor Byrnes Leads Workshop in St. Paul Minnesota | Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

Byrnes became involved with distance education models after he suffered a traumatic injury in a ski accident. Since then, Byrnes has developed online, multi-media teaching methodologies  that effectively ignore disability. Byrnes multi-media approach continuously incorporates the newest technologies to accommodate a wide range of disabilities, making it easier for many more individuals to achieve their educational goals.

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White Paper – Alternative Methods of Teaching and the Effectiveness of Distance Learning for Legal Education

Posted by William Byrnes on August 26, 2014

Professor William Byrnes, Associate Dean for Graduate and Distance Education Programs at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, released remarks in the form of a white paper about teaching photodistance education methodologies called Alternative Methods of Teaching and The Effectiveness of Distance Learning For Legal Education.  The white paper makes the case for combining traditional classroom learning with online education because it is cost effective, accessible, flexible, and addresses the biggest criticism of legal education today, the lack of law school graduates who can think and practice law.  The white paper covers such topics as –

  • U.S. Department of Education’s Review of the Effectiveness of Distance Learning
  • Developing Learning Outcomes
  • Occupational Outcomes Framing Learning Outcomes
  • Information Acquisition
  • Information Delivery
  • Learning Communities
  • Learning Media
  • Learner Motivation
  • Knowledge Acquisition
  • Learning Tools

In his white paper, Professor Byrnes argues that a challenge for institutions and faculty for the pedagogical development of distance learning is to facilitate deep learning and understanding through the creation of learning materials and opportunities for various learning experiences.

in officeProfessor Byrnes explains, “The goal is to implement best practices in law schools across the country to the benefit of our esteemed institutions, our law students and the legal system at large.”  To this end, he is a primary driver of the invitation-only Work Group for Distance Learning in Legal Education that will finalize its Best Practice Report at its 10th development meeting (see https://www.eventbrite.com/e/working-group-for-distance-learning-in-legal-education-fall-2014-meeting-registration-12051364957).

White Paper: Byrnes, William H., Alternative Methods of Teaching and the Effectiveness of Distance Learning for Legal Education (August 27, 2014). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2487679

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Videos of Prof. William Byrnes’ Presentations on Distance Education

Posted by William Byrnes on March 27, 2014

1st vimeo video: Associate Dean William Byrnes’ 15 minute presentation about distance learning to the 500 policy makers of India’s National Board of Accreditation http://vimeo.com/39260008#t=3549  (starts from 1:00:00 until 1:15.00)

2nd vimeo video: William Byrnes’ second 6 minute response presentation delivered in the afternoon to India’s National Board of Accreditation policy congress in response of questions of the plenary about his approach to distance learning http://vimeo.com/39264336#t=4959  (starts from 1:22.30 until 1.28.30)

TJSL’s Associate Dean for Graduate & Distance Education Programs William Byrnes was honored with the 2012 Education Leadership Award by the World Education Congress of India’s National Board of Accreditation that brought together 500 policy makers from many countries on all the continents to examine and develop best practice policies for higher (university and graduate) education.

Professor William Byrnes’ leadership and contribution to the field of education is well known,” said Chairman of Awards & Academic Committee Edward Smith. “The position that you occupy in the fraternity is strategic and iconic. As a thinker and doer you are a role model and a believer in change. I am pleased that the Jury and Council of Board members would like to confer the Education Leadership Award to you.”

Professor Byrnes pioneered online legal education in 1994, thereafter creating the first online LL.M. program offered by an ABA accredited law school. He is a key founding member of the Work Group for Distance Education in Legal Education that in 2013 published Distance Learning in Legal Education: A Summary of Delivery Models, Regulatory Issues and Recommended Practices (http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/plp/pdf/Distance_Learning_in_Legal_Ed.pdf). The second edition of this Best Practices Report will be released shortly (see Working Group for Distance Learning in Legal Education on Harvard’s Program on the Legal Profession website: http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/plp/pages/distance_learning_working_group.php)

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Best Practices for Distance Learning in Legal Education

Posted by William Byrnes on January 10, 2014

The American Association of Law Schools (AALS) President reported at the Sunday morning Section Officers’ breakfast on January 4, attended by Associate Dean William Byrnes of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, that this year’s conference had the second highest registration in AALS history.

During the AALS annual conference in New York City, LexisNexis sponsored the breakfast held at the Hilton Midtown for the Workgroup on Distance Education for Legal Education. The sit down breakfast, filled at room capacity of stakeholders from among law schools, is the third annual breakfast during AALS and seventh meeting of the workgroup.

The Lexis sponsored breakfast provided Professor Rebecca Purdom (pictured left), renown environmental law academic and leader of Vermont Law School’s Environmental online program, the opportunity to lead a stakeholder discussion on the Workgroup’s Report of Best Practices before the second edition publication in March. Professor Purdom also presented the agenda of the March 2014 three-day Workgroup meeting sponsored by Washington University School of Law (St. Louis). Professor Purdom stated, “The Workgroup evolved from a 2011 project presented at the Harvard Law School – New York Law School initiative of conferences ‘The Future of Legal Education 2.0’. Over the past two years, law schools’ interest has substantially grown in the workgroup’s best practices and case examples output as the schools leap forward into providing online courses and programs for their JD and LLM students.”

William Byrnes, as chair of the Report subgroup (Best Practices for Distance Learning in Legal Education:  A “Blue Paper” Summary of Delivery Models, Regulatory Issues, and Recommended Practices), has been coordinating input from academics from a representation of backgrounds, law school rankings, and regions, discussing and organizing contributions from workgroup members. Replying to the question: “What were some of highlights of the AALS conference this year?” Professor Byrnes answered, “The most significant “wake up” call of the AALS conference was the presentation about the ABA variance granted William Mitchell College of Law for a flexible hybrid, distance delivered JD degree. The newly announced hybrid short residence – online JD degree combines intensive, one week on-campus seminars once a semester with online course work during the semester.  This variance is a game changer regarding thinking about delivery of U.S. legal education and I expect distance hybrid programs to be wildly popular.”

The American Bar Association general restrictions for earning distance education credits (Standard 306) are being relaxed as well.  Under current ABA accreditation standards, a JD student may not earn any distance education during the first year of law school, and after the first year the student is restricted to no more than four distance education credit hours in any one semester, and a maximum 12 credits total may apply to the juris doctorate degree.  The new accreditation standard (Standard 311) will remove the maximum distance education credits per semester restriction, and increase the allowance  to 15 credits toward the degree.  However, in light of the newly announced variance, it is expected that several schools will also seek to expand the curriculum and practice-oriented opportunities afforded by distance education, especially schools in low population density regions.

William Byrnes said “As the pioneer of distance learning delivered law degrees by ABA institutions, I am glad to see other law schools finally understanding the strengths offered by technology. At Thomas Jefferson, my understanding of distance education pedagogy has deepened, and is frequently called upon by other schools, promoting Thomas Jefferson an academic leader among the ABA schools.”  

“How will this impact students?”  William Byrnes continued “For students, it opens the possibility, by example, of combining 15 hours of distance credits for electives with externship credits and independent study credits to complete a full academic year while perhaps undertaking a practical externship in a foreign country.  The student could begin the overseas, practical experience in January of the second year and return December the third year, allowing a full  12 months immersion, and not be penalized with a late graduation.  The last semester at the home school is a good idea to allow the student to engage in the necessary local state bar procedure courses and other bar preparation common for impending graduate, as well as reintegrate with  student organizations and friends.  Of course, technology like video/web conference applications such as Skype, Google Chat, and Polycom allow students off campus to remain engaged with home school students organizations and the like.  Still, technology doesn’t replicate throwing frisbee on Pacific Beach with friends or replace the unexpected meeting at the Starbucks down the street from the law school.”

“Quality of education was a concern on many minds which I think will in turn increase interest in the workgroup’s best practices project and report. I also expect several more variances and online programs to be applied for in 2014”. Professor Byrnes concluded “The March 2014 distance education workgroup meeting has opened a third day to address requests from law schools to provide practical online course examples of tools and techniques.”

The first edition of the workgroup’s best practices report may be downloaded from the Harvard website.  The vastly expanded, and refined, second edition of Best Practices for Distance Learning in Legal Education:  A “Blue Paper” Summary of Delivery Models, Regulatory Issues, and Recommended Practices will be published at the March 6 – 8, 2014 workshop.  Contact William Byrnes for more details (https://profwilliambyrnes.com/about-2/).

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Professor Byrnes Attends AALS Conference | Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Posted by William Byrnes on January 8, 2014

Read about the events that transpired including the announcement during an ABA session for the first ABA variance given to an online JD degree …

Professor Byrnes Attends AALS Conference | Thomas Jefferson School of Law <

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video interview on distance education

Posted by William Byrnes on November 18, 2013

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CaliBUG 2013 chooses Professor William Byrnes’ presentation on distance education pedagogy

Posted by William Byrnes on October 14, 2013


Last Spring, William Byrnes submitted a presentation proposal to the conference committee on the pedagogical reasons for, and addressing the challenges of, ‘flipping the classroom’, which was inevitably chosen for a forty minute slot.  William Byrnes pioneered online legal education in 1995, thereafter creating the first online LL.M. offered by an ABA accredited law school.   He is a key founding member of the Work Group for Distance Education in Legal Education that in 2013 published “Distance Learning in Legal Education: A Summary of Delivery Models, Regulatory Issues and Recommended Practices”.

William Byrnes said “I invited Jason Fiske to tag team the presentation wherein we swap back and forth at couple minute intervals to continually refresh audience interest.  Listening to one speaker for forty minutes can lead to distraction, fractionating between two complementary styles and perspectives allows the audience to refocus attention.”

William Byrnes and Jason Fiske presented on the topic of flipping the classroom at CaliBUG 2013 held October 11 in San Diego.  CaliBug had 280 attendants this year from California higher education institutions, representing administration and faculty of universities and colleges, as well as some So Cal public high schools.

Byrnes added, “I spoke to the pedagogical justification of flipping the classroom while Jason illustrated through examples how we are flipping the classroom.  By example, we showed captured  screens of videos, study guides, discussion forums, and assessment techniques.”

He continued, “I think it is important to start such distance education discussions by presenting the findings of the US Department of Education Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning –

A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies:

 “the meta-analysis of 50 study effects, 43 of which were drawn from research with older learners, found that students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction.’

 “Also during the presentation I drop in the quote from another article that:

 ‘Diverse groups of problems solvers – groups of people with diverse tools – consistently outperform groups of the best & the brightest’.”

 Jason Fiske chimed in, “the presentation today, and the massive interest in the system we are creating shows how the online Graduate Programs continue to lead as thought innovators and leaders in the continually evolving field of online education.”

Byrnes added, “Several institutions’ faculty approached us afterwards to establish follow up conversations.  CaliBUG has presented a very good opportunity for cross-fertilization with public universities in Southern California, like the UCs and Community Colleges, that are now exploring how best to leverage distance education to accomplish their missions of public education, as well as the private universities in attendance like USC, Loyola, and our neighbor USD.”


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