Putting Legal Education into a Practical Context:
The Potential of Online Learning
I conduct research on online legal education at the UCL Institute of Education (IoE) under supervision of Prof Diana Laurillard. This page gives you basic information about this research and will be updated to reflect its findings.
Why is this research being done?
Investigating what digital technology can offer legal education is the main aim of this research. Designing a learning environment in which the focus is interactive learning rather than on abstract knowledge is important for improving legal education. The research project investigates the viability and effectiveness of online teaching of law on the large scale, and proposes an original digital pedagogy design work on the basis of the investigation.
You are being asked to participate in a research study which is designed to help to gain a better understanding of how digital technologies can improve legal education.
Who will be in the project?
The participants will consist primarily of postgraduate university students in London, UK (LLM students) as well as legal practitioners (participants of legal training courses conducted by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law).
What will happen during the research?
The study will follow four general structural phases:
1) Analysis of practical problems (DBR Phase 1);
2) Development of solutions informed by technological innovations and design principles (DBR Phase 2);
3) Testing and refinement of design solutions in practice (DBR Phase 3);
4) Reflection to produce enhanced designed solutions (DBR Phase 4)
Each phase will involve data collection and analysis. The sequence of four phases will be repeated in several cycles to achieve enhanced design solutions through subsequent refinement, reflection and triangulation.
Although national legal systems differ, when it comes to international legal practice it is getting increasingly homogeneous. This happens primarily as a result of activities of large law firms operating in various jurisdictions and harmonisation efforts of international organisations. Master of Law degrees (LLM) have become the main route for students, particularly from non-English speaking countries, to top up their legal education to be internationally competitive.
There are increasing similarities in the way law is taught, in particular related to international commerce. However, legal education remains largely didactic giving students little exposure to the knowledge and skills necessary for successful legal practice in a globalised world. Tackling this problem is one of the main aims of the thesis.
Given the similarities in the legal education curricula internationally, and the need for innovation in the teaching methods to offer more active learning, this project will implement and test various teaching techniques for online learning that can be accessed on the large scale. Teaching materials will be enriched with authentic legal practice materials and will focus on problems which lawyers face in their careers. The learning activities in particular will include generic and adaptable texts, videos, tests, and other learning tools to develop professionally relevant knowledge and skills as the intended learning outcome of this guided self-learning approach. The project will use design-based research to investigate the opportunities and barriers to using online and digital methods in this context.
The overall goal of the research, therefore is to investigate the extent to which legal education can become more accessible across many jurisdictions, and more effective and relevant to the practice of law, using online technologies.
The PhD dissertation will be defended as a portfolio of research-informed digital pedagogy, developed using a design-based research methodology undertaken during the period of registration.
International Investment Law and Dispute Resolution course