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Strategies To Enhance Virtual Legal Education

Education practices do not necessarily need to remain in the dark ages.

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Legal education has been said to be one of the fields that is slowest to develop in terms of adapting to the use of technology to teach law, particularly in the developing countries. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were mixed views on the effectiveness of virtual learning to teach law students. Concerns were raised on the challenges in providing training on mooting via online, difficulties in creating virtual interactive engagement with students, strains in monitoring students’ performance remotely, just to name a few. 

What Sarah Toms, the Executive Director of Wharton Interactive shared recently on QS Reimagine Education website remains true, that education practices do not necessarily need to remain in the dark ages. 

The COVID-19 health crisis was like a high speed curveball thrown at all legal educators around the world forcing them to embrace the biggest leap in education in an ad hoc manner. The pandemic created the need for legal educators to experiment their teaching and learning methods to deliver legal education virtually. In this regard, the author, a legal educator at Taylor’s University, Malaysia had embedded augmented reality and gamification into law modules to teach law. The pedagogies were first introduced in 2017 but not without challenges. What the author experienced then was that the law students preferred to learn law through reading and memorizing cases and legislation. Hence, a strategic plan was put in place in the following semester to further explore the effectiveness of the use of augmented reality and gamification in teaching law. 

Below are 6 strategies the author would like to share on how to teach law students virtually:

  1. Brief students on the first day of class

In order to receive positive response from students on the use of Augmented Reality and/or gamification to learn law, students must be informed during the first day of class on the teaching and learning methods that will take place for that particular module. This is to avoid the element of surprise, increase students’ curiosity and also encourage them to develop a positive mindset towards the use of new techniques to learn law.

  1. Experiment teaching law using augmented reality using free trial online

For law lecturers who are novice in using new technology to teach law, it is best to try out the Free Trial versions of augmented reality platforms in order to get accustomed to the features. Most augmented reality platforms do provide free trial versions for educators to create their own augmented reality experience for educational purposes. 

For learning via Augmented Reality to be more impactful and meaningful for students, it is recommended for the superimposed materials (such as videos) to include instructions for students to complete an activity, preferably outside the classroom. This is to ensure that students are able to experience the effect of Augmented Reality and to follow through with the learning upon the completion of a particular activity. For example, upon viewing the superimposed video overlaid on a real-world environment, students must approach members of the public and advocate on the area of law taught for that particular module. This activity has been proven to increase students’ engagement, interactions, confidence, critical thinking and digital literacy for that particular module. 

  1. Introduce gamification to increase students participation in virtual class 

Law lecturers can also embed gamification into law modules using game cards (eg. Poker cards or UNO cards), dice, online “wheel of fortune” to get students to participate in virtual class. An example of how gamification can work is to reward students’ answers with one game card for one correct answer. Points are accumulated based on the number of the game cards. This activity will encourage students to continue participating in discussions in order to accumulate points.

  1. Record students’ performance

For the elements of gamification to work, students’ performance in virtual classes must be recorded. For example, lecturers can utilize Google Sheets to record students’ participation in virtual classes by recording the number of the cards awarded to the students. This method would allow students to monitor their own progress each week. 

  1. Provide instant feedback

It is of paramount importance for students to receive instant feedback for virtual learning using Augmented Reality and/or gamification to work. Feedback can be provided immediately during virtual lessons for each answer provided by the students. For learning via Augmented Reality, feedback can be provided instantaneously upon the completion of students’ activity. Students value prompt feedback as they can relate the feedback to the activity whilst the interactive learning process is still fresh in their minds. 

  1. Consider collaborating with other educators from other faculties

Once the lecturer is comfortable with the use of Augmented Reality and self-made gamification activity in virtual class, the lecturer can then consider to step-up their game by collaborating with other educators from other faculties (for example, Faculty of Computer Science or Faculty of Innovation) to create a platform for interdisciplinary learning or research. The author, from Taylor’s Law School, had collaborated with academics from Taylor’s Design School to develop custom-made mobile applications which feature elements of Augmented Reality and gamification. The aim of introducing mobile applications is to sow the seeds of creativity and imagination in students’ minds that studying law is not confined to reading and memorizing. It is meant to challenge students’ way of thinking and also to encourage students to assume different identities (example, as a game-player) to see problems from different perspectives. The custom-made mobile applications were also designed to enhance students’ cognitive and non-cognitive skills in a technology enhanced learning environment. 

These are some strategies to help educators take off. There are many more interesting examples of gamification, teaching and learning software and platforms that educators can also learn from QS Reimagine Education 2020 Virtual Conference.

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Puteri Sofia is a believer that being young shouldn’t mean that you cannot achieve your vision early. Recently awarded with the "President's Award for Transformative Teaching and Learning," she is the pioneer in teaching law using Augmented Reality in Malaysia. Follow her on LinkedIn.

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