Posted By H. Lalla Shishkevish, Associate Director, The Institute of Continuing Legal Education,
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
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Using Technology in Innovative Ways to Build and Develop Effective Online Learning
How can CLE providers give lawyers new tools for serving clients more effectively and efficiently? Innovative on-line training can help.
ACLEA recognized The Institute of Continuing Legal Education (“ICLE”) for its work in this area with the 2019 Award of Professional Excellence in Technology for Custody, Parenting Time, and Support through Judgment and Postjudgment Custody, Parenting Time, and Support Online Training.
ICLE turned to some important adult learning principles to create its online training:
- Effective adult learning involves absorbing and understanding new information and then applying it appropriately.
- Lawyers should be able to access the right training tools at the time they are thinking about that new client problem or drafting a new document.
- Adult learners should be able to choose where, when, and how they learn.
- Learning and training should be available in short, focused segments because this is what busy lives demand and it aligns better with how brains absorb and retain information.
- The best CLE engages the learner’s experience and expertise in the learning activity, giving lawyers an opportunity to use and build on what they already know when doing training.
- Effective CLE should use relevant stories and examples to teach new skills because more parts of the brain are engaged and learners understand and remember better when they hear a story.
To create such online training, ICLE combined new and existing technological vehicles in novel ways: Custody, Parenting Time, and Support through Judgment and Postjudgment Custody, Parenting Time, and Support Online Training allows family lawyers to master and improve their custody-related skills at their own pace, across all devices, whenever and wherever they want. ICLE combined a variety of technologies deliver carefully planned lessons with an activity tailored for each skill: short video demonstrations, videos with expert commentary, forms, charts, checklists, a decision-making branching scenario, and interactive exercises that allow lawyers to test their proficiency.
A learning management system (LMS) provides structure for the online training, tracks the lawyer’s progress, and allows easy navigation on any device. Choosing an LMS that integrates well with iMIS, ICLE’s customer relations management system, enables lawyers to use a single sign-in to access all of their ICLE resources. It also lets ICLE track each lawyer’s progress. The LMS provides a range of effective options for creating “Apply Your Knowledge” exercises that are a critical component of online skills training. Specialized branching scenario software that is mobile friendly and imports easily to the LMS adds additional interactivity. In the branching scenario, lawyers interact with a client, make decisions, and see the immediate impact on the client. Our existing resource database has tools that allow ICLE to manage, monitor, and update the forms, checklists and other resources we developed for the online training. We wove all of these pieces together with some custom coding developed in-house to provide a seamless user experience.
Some of the features that make this online training effective for adult learning and help lawyers develop new skills include:
- Structured lessons based on learning objectives and customer needs.
- A realistic case scenario with an evolving story line that begins with parents divorcing and moving across state and follows the same parents as they grapple with further typical custody and support issues. Professional actors played the client roles to make the demonstrations more realistic, absorbing and memorable.
- Simulated engagement with the hypothetical clients through a client file that builds realistically as the case develops. The client file has pleadings and memos with facts gathered from the clients to illustrate how an experienced practitioner would handle the case. Video demonstrations show attorneys gathering information, preparing client testimony, examining witnesses, and interacting with judges. A decision-making branching scenario allows lawyers to respond to videos of client questions and reactions.
- Tools that facilitate efficiency. Lawyers can maximize the efficient handling of their own cases by using the charts and checklists created as lesson resources.
- Practical insight into case strategy. Along with fact-specific pleadings drafted by experts, annotated trial briefs and witness outlines with expert commentary explain drafting decisions and providing practice pointers.
- Mock hearing demonstrations. Video demonstrations show lawyers giving opening and closing statements, examining witnesses, admitting evidence, making objections, and interacting with referees and judges. Lawyers tell us that they value seeing lawyers in action and how judges and referees respond.
- Exercises to cement skill-development. Each lesson concludes with exercises that use different fact scenarios that let lawyers compare their analysis or response with that of an expert. After responding to targeted instructions (e.g., “identify two things you would change” or “three issues you would raise with the client”), lawyers immediately compare their responses to written expert feedback that provides both a concise answer and a more detailed explanation. Lawyers using ICLE’s online training tell us this exercise and feedback part of the program is one of the most valuable aspects of their experience.
Award of Professional Excellence in Technology