New Faculty Member Virtually Prepared to Chart New Course
Professor Beth Haas
As a longtime partner with Blank Rome, Beth Haas defended a multi-national chemical company against environmental contamination and product liability claims and successfully litigated high-profile aviation accidents.
The work required strategic thinking and an ability to navigate uncertain terrain.
It was excellent preparation for Haas new role leading an initiative to develop online courses at the law school.
"There are very few law schools that offer online course work at all," Haas said. "We are the leading edge."
Haas, who previously taught Professional Responsibility and Interviewing, Negotiation and Counseling as a member of the adjunct faculty, joined the school this fall as a full-time assistant teaching professor. A member of Blank Romes Products Liability/Mass Tort and Insurance Practice Group, Haas previously practiced with Cozen OConnor and received her J.D., cum laude, from Villanova University School of Law.
Although Haas is poised to teach courses that include Products Liability and Interviewing Negotiation and Counseling, her immediate focus is developing an online version of courses including Professional Responsibility, which is required of all upper-level students.
The online course would allow students to complete co-op placements outside the Philadelphia area without slowing their progress toward fulfilling graduation requirements.
Within the next year, Haas said, the school will also adapt additional upper-level courses for delivery online.
"These are going to be courses of the quality that our students rightly expect," she said. "We plan to develop the program into something that law schools around the country will want to emulate."
The drive to develop a high-quality program, combined with a scarcity of existing models for e-learning in the legal academy, means that Haas is exploring a wide range of options.
Whether courses will be offered live, in real time, feature videotaped segments or moderated discussion boards remains to be decided.
So far, she said, law school faculty are enthused about the possibility of delivering courses in a different medium. Online courses have the potential to enhance learning, Haas said, noting that research indicates that e-courses are more student-centered than traditional classes.
Yet professors who are accustomed to "reading" students body language in class will need to find new ways to gauge their understanding and engagement with the material, Haas said.
The challenge of such a project makes it interesting, Haas said, and it reflects the school's determination to encourage innovation in legal education.