Eric H. Happe
This series addresses some technical issues important for anyone thinking about taking paralegal classes online. I have spent the past 20+ years either working as a paralegal or involved in paralegal education and I know first-hand that the paralegal career path offers tremendous opportunity for anyone interested in the law. Further, with today's advances in technology, students are able to benefit greatly by taking classes conveniently online.
Over the next few articles I will discuss several primary components I feel contribute to successful online paralegal classes. This three part series will address:
- Learning Management Systems (Blackboard Learn)
- Web Conferencing (Blackboard Collaborate)
- Broadband Internet and Computer Technology
There are a few things you might want to consider before deciding which paralegal program is right for you. As Director of Distance Education at Center for Advanced Legal Studies I know the importance of selecting the right technology to promote the success of online classes. The cornerstone of any online program is the Learning Management System or LMS. We chose Blackboard Learn as our LMS for these primary reasons:
Innovative Features: When it comes to taking paralegal classes online, students demand the best technology available. They want all the bells and whistles, and they want it all to 'just work'. That's what we get with Blackboard Learn. With Blackboard, students are able to:
- Access their classes at any time of day or night
- Access their classes from smartphones and tablets
- Upload assignments and projects
- Take self-tests, quizzes and exams online
- Participate in threaded discussions regarding course topics
- View video lectures and archived presentations
- Review lecture notes and course materials
- Collaborate with their classmates
- Correspond with their instructors
- and much more... Full Feature Showcase
If you haven't seen Blackboard before, below is a series of screenshots from a recent online paralegal course. We design our courses to be intuitive and simple to navigate, allowing students to focus on what is important to them - learning about the law and preparing to be great paralegals.
Some schools may choose to develop their own 'proprietary' or 'custom' website or portal to host their online classes. In truth, most schools simply don't have the internal resources to develop a full-featured LMS, least of all one that boasts the extensive feature-set and capabilities included in Blackboard. We feel our students deserve access to the best technology available. To be recognized as a leader in paralegal education, the Center is dedicated to continually updating and improving the technology we use to meet the demands of our students.
Industry Leader: Since the Center's adoption of Blackboard we have benefitted from several major upgrades and improvements to the platform. Like other modern technologies including computers, televisions and smartphones, Blackboard continues to innovate to maintain its dominate position in a very competitive eLearning market. We feel confident that our adoption of Blackboard Learn as our Learning Management System will continue to provide our students with a premium online experience as distance education moves progressively into the future.
Blackboard, Inc.'s involvement in eLearning doesn't stop with Learning Management Systems. In Part 2 of this series, we will examine another powerful technology utilized at the Center, Web conferencing and real-time collaboration.
Recognized: We feel it is important that our students recognize and appreciate the technologies utilized in our online paralegal classes. The majority of our students have taken college courses prior to entering our paralegal programs, and in fact, nearly half of our students hold bachelor's degrees. Having attended college previously, these students are likely familiar with Blackboard and its features. This familiarity promotes confidence that they are entering an online paralegal program that stresses high standards and doesn't cut corners with technology. Ask someone you know who is attending a major college or university which LMS they use. There is a very good chance they use Blackboard Learn.
Upcoming - Part 2: Web Conferencing Blackboard Learn is a modern and powerful platform, but what really impresses our students and excites our faculty is Web Conferencing with Blackboard Collaborate. Please be sure to check back for Part 2 of this series which takes an in-depth look at these technologies and how they are incorporated into our online paralegal certificate and online paralegal degree programs.