Things I’m trying in our first-ever self-paced, asynchronous legal English course

Stephen Horowitz is the Director of Online Legal English Programs at Georgetown Law.

Since I started my new position at Georgetown Law in January, 2020 (just a couple months before the COVID-19 pandemic descended upon us), my primary focus has been developing a self-paced, asynchronous online legal English course. It’s been an exciting learning and creative experience, and the course now happily exists!

It’s called OLE: Orientation to the U.S. Legal System (though we have also created another iteration with the perhaps more literally descriptive title OLE: U.S. Legal System – Core Concepts & Vocabulary), and though it felt like this day would never arrive, I’ve now actually begun teaching it. (Note: OLE = Online Legal English)

Of course, I’m not teaching in the traditional sense. I’m not in a classroom and I don’t even have any lesson plans. All of that is embedded into the self-paced, do-it-yourself course. The course is set up so that students essentially work through it on their own, with various activities due each day and a final graded writing assignment due at the end of each week. The only synchronous component is are one or two Zoom office hour sessions each week that provide a chance for students to ask questions and discuss anything they want, and for all of us to get to know each other better. It’s this sort of “flipped classroom” model in an online, asynchronous set-up that I’ve never done before. And that I think has not yet been done in the legal English world. (And by the way, if I’m wrong, please don’t hesitate to let me know.)

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