A hybrid JD program blends traditional, instructor-led training with online learning in a learner-centered environment. It’s understandable that these programs are increasing in popularity. Of course, like any other program, a newly-launched JD flex hybrid program requires substantial investment and dedication to get into the marketplace and recruit students. This guide covers the marketing, recruiting, course planning, and development process for implementing your new JD flex/hybrid program.
Note: the ABA approval process is not covered in this article.
If you have a residential JD program, you will most likely reach the same type of students from a demographic and ethnographic perspective. However, it is typical that these students can maintain active employment while taking the program. It is also likely you will increase your reach into the secondary markets surrounding your primary marketing depending on your residential requirement of the program. While you can rely on your face to face recruiting numbers as a guideline, you should still conduct your own market research to determine the viability of your program.
Once you’ve conducted market research, it’s time to plan your marketing and recruiting strategy. While you are reaching similar students, you may need additional recruiting staff for the new program, depending on the volume of inquiries you expect.
If you are uncertain about the amount you should invest, you may want to consider having a higher education law school consulting firm help you determine the best strategy. These companies can often provide valuable guidance for your best next steps. They may also be willing to provide funding for your new program in exchange for a share of the tuition.
Finding the right mix of residential and online takes time and intentionality. Some institutions prefer programs with week-long, face-to-face intensives, often at the start and end of a program. Some prefer the every-other-weekend obligation, despite the drawbacks to limiting a student population to a specific region. Others prefer a mix of the two.
With a week-long model, there is often an initial kick-off, followed by selected weekends throughout the semester. One of the key factors to consider is how far you believe your students will be located from your campus. Do you believe a substantial number of your students who want to attend your program will reside outside of a two-hour driving range? If so, the week-long face to face intensives may be the best route. This approach will accommodate those students who need to drive a longer distance or fly in, so that they still have an opportunity to enroll in your program.
Many programs build their courses to be taken in sequence. This sequential model is very typical, but does not allow the program to maximize its net revenue. We recommend a three-tiered approach to course offerings.
Tier 1: any student can take at any time. We recommend having four of these courses.
Fall Course 1 Spring Course 3
Fall Course 2 Spring Course 4
Fall incoming students will take Course 1 and Course 2, then in the Spring take Course 3 and Course 4. Spring incoming students will take Course 3 and Course 4 then the following fall take Course 1 and Course 2. This maximizes your enrollment per course. You then do the same for the remaining courses. Keeping them in flexible tiers that allow for seamless transition throughout the curriculum.
Leveraging the expertise of instructional designers will be key to building successful online / Hybrid courses. These professionals can make the difference between a good course and a great one. They provide guidance in pedagogy and andragogy helping you cultivate the content in an easily consumable format for these students.
You will most likely have a section of pre-work for the students to complete prior to your face-to-face sessions, followed by post-work afterwards. It’s essential to create a cohesive connection between the face-to-face elements of the course and the online elements. By doing so, you’ll present the course as one continuous, seamless class. This type of work is typically done with help from an instructional designer, and you can expect it to take a significant amount of time. This proactive effort avoids giving students the impression that the face-to-face class is different from the online class.
These logistics are just a few of the many details to consider as you begin planning the launch of a JD flex program. There are lots of small details that all need to come together to successfully launch your program. If you have not launched a hybrid flex program, we highly recommend that you consider bringing in a consulting firm to help you with this process. That way, you will have the peace of mind in knowing that you have done the appropriate due diligence and have a strategy for launching your new program.