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Professor Slomanson’s Blended Learning Recognition

May 18, 2015

The Uncommon Individual Foundation congratulated Professor William Slomanson on May 11, 2015, for his pioneering work in blended learning education. As its notice provides:

Your video Why Flip? & Macro Design has been selected to be the LegalED video of the week and will be featured on our home page. We think this would be a great opportunity to share your engagement in legal education reform. This was a terrific presentation and we once again thank you for your time and effort on this.

Professor Slomanson initiated his blended learning approach during his last sabbatical. He kicked off this novel teaching approach in his fall 2013 Civil Procedure classes. As he explains, “Traditional lecture-only classes—in K-12, undergraduate, and graduate education are going by the wayside. There, the teacher’s notes become the students’ notes, without passing through the minds of either. Online-only classes—exemplified by the huge institutional MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)—are, too often, a mere replication of the lecture method. They increase the student-teacher ratio, and decrease student-teacher contact. Blended learning, on the other hand, integrates the best of both. The Department of Education’s numerous studies demonstrate that student comprehension is significantly improved in blended learning classes.”

The substantive material is introduced via short subject-specific videos. The students can stop and rewind the professor the night before class. They can then commence outlining each subject area, as well as looking up challenging words or concepts. Professor Slomanson comments, “Upon arrival in class, it’s déjà vu all over again. The students already have a general sense of the subject matter, based on the pre-class videos. They do less note-taking and ask more practical questions. That has yielded the additional class time to inject skills elements into my three-unit night classes.”  

Professor Slomanson’s Year 1 results are chronicled in Blended Learning: A Flipped Classroom Experiment, 64 Journal of Legal Education 93 (2014).

Slomanson’s first of two blended learning conference presentations was the April 2014 inaugural Igniting Legal Education Conference, at American University in Washington, DC. That TEDx talk is the subject of the Uncommon Individual Foundation’s above congratulatory notice. Slomanson therein shared his views about why one should create a blended learning class. His article covered how one might do that.

Slomanson’s most recent blended learning presentation was at the AALS 38th Annual Clinical Education Conference in Rancho Mirage, California. On May 5 and 6, Professor Slomanson co-presented two Creating Video Workshops, with co-presenters Angela Upchurch (SIU) and Michele Pistone (Villanova). Slomanson prepared a pre-conference video, which was shown to the Thomas Jefferson faculty at its most recent Professional Development Committee event. It features a handful of platforms for creating blended learning videos, so that professors can unearth additional class time for augmenting their course objectives. Slomanson’s AALS video is available here.

Upon learning of the above recognition for his blended learning work, Professor Slomanson said, “I must thank I.T. specialist John Snay for his now two-year voluntary servitude. He made it possible for me to do all my Year 1 videos. As no good deed goes unpunished, John cheerfully facilitated the redo of all my videos for the just completed Year 2—when I moved my blended learning program to the night division. After the 48 videos that he has helped me produce, I’ve promised to give him some R&R—before flipping my Year 3 Cal Civ Pro class.”