Grey Tales


Tales from an Instructional Technologist in the world of legal education and beyond…

CALI 2008 Keynote: Paul Maharg

Conference for Law School Computing:Transforming Legal Education

Professor Paul MahragPaul is a professor from the Glasgow Graduate School of Law who wrote a book called “Transforming Legal Education”.  

Here are the main points of his talk:

  1. Summary of Themes of Transforming Legal Education, 
  2. Signature Pedagogy, 
  3. Transactional Learning , 
  4. SIMPLE, 
  5. Into the Future.

How can use simulation in teaching and learning the law? He jokes that his own legal education was a mix of boredom and terror.  

E.L. Thorndike and John Dewey both were on the progressive wing of education in the 1920s. There were striking differences in their approaches. One was a psychologist (Thorndike) and the other was a philosopher and educationalist (Dewey). One emphasized teaching strategies (Thorndike) and the other emphasized learning ecologies (Dewey). The classroom in 1908 was teacher dominated and situated in a classroom. However, active learning is much preferred by most when asked which kind of learning is preferred.

Four key themes of TLE: Experience, Ethics, Technology and Collaboration (elective affinities) are the four key themes of transforming legal education. Participants need to share content and method. Transactional learning is a specific form of problem based learning. There are seven distinguishing elements: active learning, performance, reflection, collaborative learning, process learning, relevant professional assessment and ethical standards. 

Signature pedagogies: surface structure (observable, behavioral features), tacit structure (values and dispositions that the behavior implicitly models), deep structure (underlying intentions, rationale or theory that the behavior models) and shadow structure (absent pedagogy that is or is only weakly engaged).

Are we using technology just because it is there or someone else has said we should use it? Simulations are close to the world of practice, but safe from the realities of malpractice and negligent representation. They enable students to practice legal transactions and facilitate a wide variety of assessment.

What is SIMPLE?  SIMulated Professional Learning Environment. It is a Web 2.0 technology that allows to students to experience the practical application of law. It is a two year funded project that enabled staff and students to manage the educational and organizational issues that arise from the implementation of  a legal transaction.

Simulation-personal injury negotiation project: Divide students into four firms. On the left of the web site you have staff tools (e.g., events, staff resources, manage, simulation) , and folders (e.g., received, sent, drafts, notes to file, templates, minutes of meetings). Students co-opted to community-police plagiarism. Students carry out authentic client based work. ICT is used to create multiple versions of tasks via document variables and support for tasks. Students take responsibility for their transaction activities. The grade is given to the firm NOT individual students and that promotes collective ownership of the task.

For the future, the aims are to be collaborative (staff, students, different institutions), be international (enabling students to work with others around the world), work through bodies such as the Global Alliance for Justice Education, integrate with other forms of simulation (e.g., standardized clients) and organize like Mozilla. They wold like to develop more teaching, learning and assessment templates (including curriculum guidelines), provide tools to create a more sophisticated map and directory for a virtual town, enable more variety of comms media between students and simulated characters/staff, offer more sophisticated monitoring and mentoring functions, evaluate student and staff experiences in using the simulation environment and design more functionality (eg. voice, 3D, etc).

SIMPLE Foundation:

Filed under: General,

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