August 25, 2017

Online Law School Class Tips

Whether you're taking law school online or just enrolled in an online law school course, don't think it will necessarily be easy. I took two online law classes and lived to tell the tale (and tips). 5 tips for an online law class |

Happy Friday my friends! This past summer I took 2 online classes so I thought I'd share some of my wisdom for any of y'all taking an online class this semester. Online law school classes are a totally different animal than normal law school classes and while they're not necessarily harder, they do require some special effort to make sure you don't accidentally end up with a bad grade. 

Planner, planner, planner!

If you thought you needed a planner for a regular law class, you really need a planner for an online class! In just one of my classes, for each "class" during the week, we had 3 modules. Each module contained 2 videos, a quiz, and either a 3-page assignment or another video and a discussion board for that video. Multiple that by the 2 other modules and that's a LOT of little assignments all due. And to keep you from waiting until the last week to get all of your assignments done, your professor will probably be like both of mine where your access to the videos, quizzes, discussion board, and assignment upload page all go away at the end of the week. That means if you miss one little assignment and don't realize it until after 11:59 on that last day, you're screwed.

My tip to you is that on that last day (ours was always a Sunday), go through and double check that all of your videos show 100% completion or else you're going to miss out on easy "attendance" points. And if you have an assignment where you have to respond to everyone on the discussion board (ugh I did), make a list of all of your other classmates in a Word document, then use the square bullet points, and print that out. Now you have a checklist for each week to make sure that you don't accidentally skip someone and lose out on easy points. 

Don't underestimate the time commitment

The very first week of my online classes, I went with Ryan to a wedding in Branson and I put off doing some of the videos and quizzes until last minute. I thought it would be fine because I could just do these on the road using the LTE on my iPad, but then I realized that when you're on the road, you go through a lot of areas that don't have LTE so the videos won't load and you risk losing internet connection before you can submit a quiz. This led to his whole family all meeting up for go-karting and I had to stay behind in the hotel doing school work. 

Also, I was only working 20-hour weeks when I did this, so I had plenty of time in the afternoons and evenings to get all this done. You might be able to squeeze in one online class if you're working full time or taking other in-class classes during the semester, but I wouldn't push it because you have a lot of busy work to get done. 

Still take good notes

Just don't rely on Google. Laws vary from state to state and through research for my job I've learned that there's a lot of incorrect legal information on Google. Also, it's not uncommon for quiz questions to be very specific to see if you're paying attention, like "what did I mention as being one of the hardest parts of discovery" and if you Google that, the answers are going to be all over the board.

Besides the multiple weekly quizzes, I also had a midterm for one class and a final for both classes. While most of the quizzes were easy enough that I could have just listened to the videos and instantly taken the quiz and still remembered enough to do well, I would have been seriously screwed on the tests if I hadn't taken notes. And a little tip from personal experience— also take notes over the quiz questions and answers too because there's a good chance some of those will get recycled into the final.

Get clarification as soon as you're confused

One hard part about being in an online class is that you can't whisper what is she talking about?? or go up to your professor after class if you don't understand what's going on. Don't guess and instead shoot your professor a quick (but polite) email explaining what you think you understood and asking for clarification, or write the same in a class discussion board. Or if all else fails, find some of your classmates on Facebook and send them a WTF is going on message.

I made this mistake on a paper that we were assigned and wrote my motion in limine on excluding mentions that my client was fired from his job or was cheating on his wife. Turns out we were just supposed to write them to get the opposing party's expert testimony excluded. Yep, I missed out on a few points there because I didn't take the time to clarify and wrongly assumed what the paper was supposed to be over just from my own knowledge about a MIL. 

Don't take a really hard subject

I, a girl with a degree in Spanish who has taken basically 0 science classes since I was 18, thought that I would be fine taking nanotechnology law. I struggled the whole semester just to understand the different components of nanotechnology so that the policies, regulations, and laws behind it could make sense to me. This ended up being super stressful and was a hard life lesson for me to learn.

Even if your class isn't as niche as nanotechnology, definitely message some of your older classmates to find out how hard the in-person class was. If it was hard for them to learn a subject with a professor right in front of them and classmates to turn to right beside them, it might be an uphill battle for you. One saving grace for me in this class was that I took it with a friend of mine so I at least had someone to compare notes with and talk to. 

But the best part about taking an online class is that you can do your classwork while in your comfy bed and still in pajamas! This might have been the inspiration behind my How to Turn your Bed into a Study Space post.....


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