Online Learning Policy | Albany Law School
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Online Learning Policy and Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction

Adopted from the Working Group for Distance Learning in Legal Education

1. Purpose

This policy is designed to guide Albany Law School in the development, delivery, and evaluation of JD and MSLS online learning in accordance with the requirements of American Bar Association's Standard 306, Middle State Accreditation, and NYS Higher Education. Unless noted below, all Albany Law School students and programs at Albany Law School will be treated the same and follow guidelines and policies set forth in the faculty and student handbooks.

2. Details

In accordance with ABA Standard 306, a distance education course, or an online course, is one in which students are separated from the faculty member or each other for more than one-third of the instruction and the instruction involves the use of technology to support regular and substantive interaction among students and between the students and the faculty member. These courses are taught using a Learning Management System (LMS) (i.e. Canvas). Faculty may also use a LMS to supplement or enhance their face-to-face courses, though not replace face-to-face time with on-line time.

Faculty must complete a course proposal form and go through the curriculum approval process to teach an online course. Faculty can teach a web-enhanced course at any time. Faculty must include in the course proposal and in the course description what percentage of their course will be online (100%, 75%, 50%, 33%, other). A course which is 100% online means a faculty uses a learning management system (i.e. Canvas) to provide all teaching and learning online; no face-to-face classes occur. Faculty who teach between 99% and one third online use a LMS (i.e. Canvas) to provide a combination of online classes with their face-to-face classes.

Online courses at Albany Law School are generally asynchronous. This means that learning takes place online in a Learning Management System (LMS) (i.e. Canvas) where students interact with one another through discussions and assignments that are facilitated by a qualified law professor. An asynchronous learning environment like this allows students to access the course content on their own schedule, which is ideal for those who are employed or who have other obligations.

Although the courses offer a great deal of flexibility in that students may log in and participate at any time during the day, these courses are not self-paced. Students are expected to participate regularly and continually throughout each module in the course. All online courses also have set deadlines which are required for discussion postings, quizzes, written assignment submissions and the completion of other learning activities.

2.1 Faculty are encouraged to seek course development assistance through our Office of Online Learning and Instructional Technology. The course development process pays particular attention to materials, activities, engagement, communication, organization, and assessments tied to learning goals.

2.2 Faculty are encouraged to execute and deliver an online class by actively engaging students through multimodal teaching strategies: feedback, assessment, discussions, video, audio, and other appropriate techniques/material.

2.3 Faculty will be encouraged to provide regular and concrete feedback on student effort and performance. Faculty should communicate expectations to students in advance.

2.4 The Online Learning and Instructional Technology Office provides training of faculty, staff and students. All faculty teaching online need to participate in training for teaching online. The Associate Dean of Academic Affairs handles the ongoing evaluation and review of classes.

2.5 Faculty teaching online need to continuously monitor the number of hours and time necessary for the credit hour allocation of the course.

​3. Courses

3.1 Each Course developed to be delivered through online learning by the law school will be designed to utilize the technological resources available at the institution, supportable by the institution, and reasonably available to student populations.

3.2 Each Course will maintain outcome standards consistent with Standard 302. All courses will include learning outcomes, assessments and ways to determine student outcome performance.

3.3 Each course will include sufficient interactive tools and course design elements that allow faculty and students interactive opportunities that equal or exceed the interaction found in a traditional classroom setting.

3.4 Intellectual Property Rights to Courses will follow the same rights as face-to-face courses outlined in the faculty handbook.

3.5 Each Course will protect student privacy according to federal and institutional Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines. All online learning will be provided from secure sites, and all required course elements that require student identification will be limited to those sites. See Student Identify Verification Policy for more information.

3.6 Each Course will require students to have a unique login and password, issued to them through Albany Law school's standard student verification protocols.

3.7 All required examinations that are not otherwise modified for use of outside materials (e.g., open book exams), will be proctored by appropriate personnel or through available technological means.

4. Students

4.1 All students who participate in online learning must participate in a mandatory orientation, which will train students in technology used and online learning protocols and etiquette.

4.2 In accordance with the ABA's Standard, JD students may take a total of 15 total online learning credits during their academic career. No online learning classes may be taken during the first year, or to fulfill first-year curriculum requirements. See Standard 306(e) and 306(f).

4.3 All students’ work that occurs in an online learning class may be monitored and reviewed by the teaching faculty, program administrator, and other law school personnel.

5. Student Identity Verification Policy

This policy applies to all credit-bearing online education courses or programs offered by Albany Law School, beginning with the application for admission and continuing through to a student’s graduation, transfer, or withdrawal from study. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that Albany Law School operates in compliance with the provisions of the United States Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) concerning the verification of student identity in distance education. The HEOA requires that institutions offering online learning have processes in place to ensure that the student registering for a course is the same student who participates in the course or receives course credit. The Act requires that institutions use one of the following three methods:

  • An individual secure login and password issued by the law school;
  • Proctored examinations; and
  • New or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying student identification.

5.1 Albany Law School uses Canvas as its learning management system. Canvas has been integrated with Albany Law School’s active directory which enables students and faculty to sign on with their unique Albany Law School credentials. This ensures appropriate and secure student access to courses and other student information systems (SIS). All users of Canvas are responsible for maintaining the security of usernames and passwords, or any other access credentials as required. Attempting to discover another user's password or attempts to gain unauthorized access to another person's files or email is prohibited. Acceptable Use of Technology and the Internet Policy is available on our secure portal.

5.2 Students are responsible for providing their complete and true identity information in any identification verification process. It is against Albany Law School’s policy for a user to give someone his or her password or to allow others to use his or her account.

5.3 In addition, with Albany Law School’s active directory, instructors have access to class rosters that includes student photos associated with their name and account. The Canvas learning management system also provides student photo options associated with their account and this is visible in areas of the course including the discussion. Live audio and video of students interacting in the course is also a feature of the learning management system. As technology and personal accountability are not absolute in determining a student’s identity, faculty members are encouraged to use these technologies and to design courses that use assignments and evaluations that support academic integrity.

5.4 At this time there are no additional student fees associated with student verification. In the event any verification fee is needed, it will be posted on the course registration site to provide an advance alert to students.

5.5 Albany Law School complies fully with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. 1232g. This act protects the privacy of student information in distance education by requiring, with certain limited exceptions, that the student's consent must be obtained before disclosing any personally identifiable information in the student's education records. Additional information on FERPA and student record access can be found at http://www.albanylaw.edu/about/campus-policies-and-notices.

5.6 The President and Dean, or his or her designee, is responsible for developing and ensuring compliance with this policy and will inform associate deans, assistant deans, and administrative officers when changes to the policy are made.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an online course at Albany Law School?

In accordance with ABA Standard 306, a distance education course, or an online course, is one in which students are separated from the faculty member or each other for more than one-third of the instruction and the instruction involves the use of technology to support regular and substantive interaction among students and between the students and the faculty member. These courses are taught using a Learning Management System (LMS) (i.e. Canvas). Faculty may also use a LMS to supplement or enhance their face-to-face courses, though not replace face-to-face time with online time.

How are courses delivered?

Online courses at Albany Law School are generally asynchronous. This means that learning takes place online in a Learning Management System (LMS) (i.e. Canvas) where students interact with one another through discussions and assignments that are facilitated by a qualified law professor. An asynchronous learning environment like this allows students to access the course content on their own schedule, which is ideal for those who are employed or who have other obligations.

Although the courses offer a great deal of flexibility in that students may log in and participate at any time during the day, these courses are not self-paced. Students are expected to participate regularly and continually throughout each module in the course. All online courses also have set deadlines which are required for discussion postings, quizzes, written assignment submissions and the completion of other learning activities.

Do I have to attend an orientation before taking an online course?

Yes. Student Affairs will notify new students of a student orientation which will include a “task list” to complete. The task list helps students become familiar with many different policies, departments, resources, and tools at Albany Law School. Included in this task list is a mandatory Canvas orientation. It will help you become more familiar with Canvas itself and being an online learner.

Do I need to own a computer to take online courses?

Reliable access to a computer and the Internet is required, usually a minimum of two to three times per week. Please see our portal for the recommended computer setup. We also recommend a headset with a microphone for quality audio. You can purchase one on Amazon for under $25.00.

What is the difference between the outlook/365 email and the Canvas email?

Albany Law School uses Outlook/365 for all email communication. However faculty may choose to use the inbox and calendar within Canvas when teaching a fully online course to communicate. Students should check both.

How do I check to see if my technology is working for a web conference either with Adobe Connect or with Canvas conferences through Big Blue Button?

Where can I learn more?

  • Go to http://www.albanylaw.edu to learn more about our college, Admissions, Academics, etc. (open to the public)
  • Go to our Portal to learn more and access internal operations (must have Albany Law credentials)

Do I need to add a profile picture to my Canvas Account?

Yes. This will help faculty and fellow students continue to get to know you. Directions on how to do this can be found in your Canvas Orientation. Ultimately you click on account, profile, then rest your curser on your placeholder profile picture and click the edit button (it looks like a pencil). Be sure to use an appropriate photo similar to one on your school ID, driver's license or passport.

Where can I get help and speak/email a person?

The best place to get emails and phone numbers is to login in to our Portal and click contact information. Look for the person or department you need based on your question. Please reach out to Dr. Baia pbaia@albanylaw.edu or 518.445.2366, for your online and instructional technology needs.