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The Virtual Classroom: A Trainer's Perspective

Apr 18, 2012
Deborah Smith

In June of 2011, CLINIC introduced its first series of e-learning courses.  Inspired by the needs of CLINIC affiliates and subscribers to minimize the cost of travel to on-site training locations, we developed a menu of on-line immigration courses--including family-based immigration, waivers, and six other immigration topics.

As one of the Training and Legal Support attorneys with CLINIC, I'm happy to be part of  these e-learning classes and have helped design and teach several courses.  The conversion to e-learning was spearheaded by one of our colleagues,  Jennie Guilfoyle.  Jennie galvanized our interest in e-learning, found models of e-learning to guide us, and got the show on the road. 

As my children will attest, my grasp of technology is shaky at best but I have been impressed with how easy it is to use and participate in e-learning.  The e-learning courses consist of different activities, including reading

assignments, homework exercises, and participation in weekly webinars.  While we include chapters from CLINIC's books and manuals to provide background materials helpful to beginners, we also include BIA and federal court cases in our recommended reading section.  Using the CLINIC e-learning website, our students can access the reading assignments, homework, discussion forum and recorded webinars at any time and from any computer.  And we offer advanced courses to further the knowledge of our network members.   

Although I miss seeing students face-to-face, it's been exciting experiencing the possibilities that e-learning courses offer.   Students can delve more deeply into each topic area through required and recommended readings as well as homework exercises.  Students also ask questions during the webinars and are encouraged to send the trainers questions during the week by email. In addition, the e-learning format allows students who are not able to participate in a webinar to listen to the recorded webinar at their convenience.

In my years as a trainer, I have learned that everyone learns differently.   At CLINIC, we are proud to offer this new form of training that allows our affiliates to connect with colleagues and explore additional topics in greater depth.  And if I can figure out the technology requirements for e-learning, anyone can!!  I encourage you to look at our list of e-learning classes and see if there's a course for you.

*Ms. Smith is a Staff Attorney for CLINIC's National Legal Center for Immigrants