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Reflections on Creating Interactive Skills-Based Hybrid Programs

February 17, 2023

Gail Geronimo

At eCampus Ontario’s Technology and Education Seminar and Showcase (TESS) in November 2022, OsgoodePD was selected to present on creating interactive skills-based hybrid programs. Using our award-winning Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop (ITAW) as a case study, we had the rare chance to be on the ‘presenter-side’ among our peers of education providers.

We saw this not just as an opportunity to showcase the program, but rather a way for us to reflect on our experiences, challenges, successes, and takeaways as we transformed our longest-running program into a new, innovative version of its original form.

Before the pandemic struck, many legal professional development programs that teach sophisticated skills, such as those related to trial advocacy or adjudication, were primarily offered in person, usually with little options for asynchronous learning activities or interaction online. In 2020, as with many other education providers, the pandemic prompted us to quickly transition these programs to an online format, largely out of necessity, but also with the unforeseen but incredible opportunity to deliver these programs that use technology in novel ways.

Nearly two years later, with the expected return to in-person programming, we set out to develop interactive skills CLE programs which combine the strengths of our traditional in-person programs and the technological innovations, digital inclusivity and accessibility of its online versions.   

In the case of ITAW, we redesigned it into a highly complex program which was available to participants either in-person or online: both formats ran simultaneously with parallel learning experiences, with some interaction and common elements between in-person and online participants and instructors.

To achieve this, we used innovative technological elements such as recording individual skills performances with instant playback capabilities for instructor feedback, completely via Zoom. Additionally, we complemented our live format with asynchronous work which included pre-program assignments, annotated demonstrations, optional resource videos, as well as common hybrid elements such as live streamed plenary sessions, and ‘beamed in’ instructors.

We shared factors that we considered when designing the program, such as timelines, staffing, training, and pedagogy. We outlined some of the operational and technical challenges we experienced in executing the program, and strategies we employed to overcome them.

We reflected on our favourite takeaways from transforming the program:

  • Accessibility: Having welcomed participants from across Canada, Europe and the Caribbean, our model allowed participation from those who may not have been able to travel to Toronto
  • Flexibility: Asynchronous elements of the program have allowed participants to complete parts of the program in their own time, at their own space — a feature that is becoming increasingly beneficial for today’s learners.
  • Choice: Whether a participant chose face-to-face contact through the in-person format or the convenience of the online format, the learning outcomes remained the same.
  • Innovation: What’s more, this project kicked off an appreciation for how technology can be employed in new and interesting ways.

By presenting ITAW at TESS, we were offered an incredible chance to highlight our work, voice our reflections, and share our insights with others interested in creating high-quality hybrid skill-based programs.

Want to know more about the Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop (ITAW)Click here.