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Abstract

This paper evaluates (a) student perceptions of blended learning in the context of continued professional development courses for solicitors and (b) student experience of discussion in such a blended learning course. Students in the Law Society of Ireland‟s Diploma in Employment Law partook in a blended learning course that contained face-to-face discussion and both asynchronous and synchronous online discussion as an essential feature of their learning experience. Students were asked to respond to self-completion interim and final questionnaires. The results suggest that „time poor‟ solicitors strongly approve of blended learning and their characteristics as independent, self-motivated learners mean they are well placed to fully participate in this form of learning; each method of discussion is valued by such students; the forms of such discussion, whether face-to-face, asynchronous or synchronous online discussion, can be complementary; the method of assessment has an important impact on student perceptions of the value of online discussion; and particular attention must be paid to framing synchronous discussion for it to be effective. With respect to implications for practice, the study confirms that blended learning is a valid means of course delivery in respect of continued professional development courses for solicitors and that such "time-poor" learners respond well to structured online discussion requiring mandatory postings. Key

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