It was a fine conference, well organised by Anabela Susana Sousa Goncalves and her team at the Universidade do Minho.  I love Portugal.  I was brought up a Catholic, so it seemed perfectly natural to me to put a statue of St Francis holding the infant Jesus above the gantry in the hotel bar – a form of piety embedded in everyday life, like the roadside shrines to the Virgin Mary in the starkly beautiful landscapes of South Uist.  Like Scotland it’s another small European nation with its own distinct cultures, and mad about football – at dinner in the wee restaurant beside the hotel I caught the second half of a lacklustre Barca v Juve match on the TV, and though I don’t have a word of Portuguese it was clear there was extended and acerbic comment on the quality of play from locals at a nearby table.

This year at BILETA as well as a strong stream on cybercrime there lots of papers on internet governance and privacy, of one sort or another, eg online hate comms, etc.  We’ll be publishing a selection in the EJLT.  As always, I followed the education & technology stream.  As always, I’m struck by discrepancies between the substantive streams and their emphasis on governance, and the relative lack of interest in that in legal education generally, but especially in the field of education and new technologies.  Actually, it’s crucial to our work, and I’ll explore that below the fold.

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BILETA day 2, parallel session 3

by Paul Maharg on 21/04/2017

No summary because I was presenting two papers in this three-paper session.  The first was co-authored with Abhilash Nair, my co-editor of the European Journal of Law and Technologyand Catherine Easton, editor of the European Journal of Current Legal Issuesentitled ‘Legal scholarship and OA publishing: developing radical pathways to free, open models’.  Slides at the slides tab above.  Abstract:

Developments in technology have had a fundamentally transformative effect on academic publishing.  Research can now be disseminated directly to academic networks and the wider public, in theory bypassing the need for traditional publishing structures, publishers and their associated costs.  In the last few decades the strategies adopted by journal publishers have led to increasingly steep and unsustainable costs for our academic libraries, the centralisation of publishing power in the hands of a few conglomerates, and the corporatisation of metricised data that in many respects has been developed using public money.  By contrast, prominent funding bodies such as the Wellcome Trust have positioned themselves strongly in support of unrestricted access to research outputs and this has translated to open access (OA) playing a key role in the UK’s Research Excellence Framework.

Under pressure the commercial players in the publishing world have reluctantly been drawn into the debate.  The Finch Report’s Green and Gold systems have been developed in a way that maintains the traditional publishers’ relationship with academic work and, in the case of Gold access, develops a system reliant on payment.  The debate on OA has been developing rapidly in science-based disciplines with, for example, Nature dedicating in March 2013 an entire issue to the topic.

The journal PLOS 1 is a typical response to OA in scientific disciplines but it still largely requires a publication fee or Article Processing Charge.  These and other such compromises bring complexities and constraints and barriers to the publication of information that true open access, online publications with no payment and no fees or charges, completely avoids.

We argue that the engagement with OA within law legal scholarship has been less sophisticated than in science scholarship; and that there is a need to evaluate how the discipline could develop to create and sustain truly OA systems.  This paper will draw upon the experiences of editors of two fully open access legal journals: the European Journal of Law and Technology http://ejlt.org/ and the European Journal of Current Legal Issues http://ejocli.org/.  It will evaluate the current position of academic publishing in the law and the literature upon legal academic publishing and OA generally.  It will argue that the best way forward is the development of truly open and radical access models. Some of these will be outlined in the session.

The second paper, in the same session, was another co-authored event, with Dirk Rodenburg and Robert Clapperton, and presented by me, entitled ‘The cognitive computing revolution in simulation for academic and professional education: an implementation and its implications’.  Slides at the slides tab above.  Abstract below:

One of the most difficult challenges confronting academic and professional schools, including law, medicine, engineering and business is, broadly stated, ensuring knowledge integration across academic and professional domains of knowledge, and the integration of knowledge, affect, skills and values.  Heuristics often used to address this integration include problem- and case-based learning (PBL and CBL), standardized patients and clients, and role play, as well as experiential learning such as clerkships, internships and clinic.  More recently, simulation, even in ‘low fidelity’ formats, has been shown to be a powerful instructional tool when appropriately constructed and applied.  However, there remain significant challenges to these approaches in terms of access, reach, cost and efficiency.

Recently, the availability of artificial intelligence, natural language processing and machine learning has given rise to ‘cognitive computing’ platforms which may offer potential for enhancing teaching, learning and student engagement.  The Queen’s University Faculty of Law and Ametros Learning, in consultation with the PEARL research consortium at ANU, are currently developing a cognitive computing platform, utilizing IBM’s Watson technology, which will enable an instructional team to develop interactive, intelligent simulations for use in law, medicine, business and engineering.  Based on an existing cognitive computing simulation platform developed by Ametros, the platform will combine:

  1. A simulation engine that immerses the student in a decision driven case-based narrative. Characters driven by IBM Watson cognitive computing APIs interact and engage with the student and instructor in ways that mirror real-world interactions.  The simulation provides an open environment: students have to determine and carry out, non-prescriptively, appropriate courses of actions to which embedded characters respond.
  2. A guided authoring system which enables subject matter experts (SMEs) and instructional developers with limited technical knowledge to build simulation scenarios.

In our paper we shall draw upon the recent history of simulation in legal education, explore the detail of the technology platform, and outline its potential for legal and other disciplinary and professional education.

Good questions after both.  Our session Chair observed that our host for the BILETA conference this year, the Universidade do Minho, had a strong commitment to OA.

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BILETA 2017, Parallel session 2

by Paul Maharg on 21/04/2017

This session is titled ‘Technological challenges in educational contexts 1’.  A UK speaker didn’t turn up, so first up, Maria Joao Carapeto, doctoral student, with the intriguing title ‘Memory, peace, development, technology, innovation, interdisciplinary, education, Portuguese-speaking countries’.  She started with the idea of building peace in the Portuguese-speaking (lusophony) countries, eg Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Sao Tome, Cape Verde, etc.  This involves sovereignty, self-determination, the idea of a common history, language as a key factor of cohesion, solid community-sharing , common values and intercultural dialogue and convergence and positive action for peace.  Lusophony is a culture, but a feeling and sentiment too, according to Maria.  According to the UN education for peace should be a transformative project — transforming the effects of conflict, eg promoting knowledge and human rights knowledge in particular.  Education for peace is also a conflict-prevention strategy.

But in HE, most of the documentation for a course in law that promote all these values and qualities, are all in English, not in Portuguese, so there are problems for lusophonic areas of the world, which contain substantial populations, and which of course have their own dialects.  Here is where technology can be useful, and in particular the essential requirements are those of interactivity, usability and reliability.  Hence the idea of PaxLusofona:

This is important in the contexts of the Lusaka Agreements, 2002, in Angola; the first free elections in East Timor, 2001, and the celebration of the anniversary of the Mozambican Peace Agreement.

Second,  Anna Berti Suman, on ‘Connectivity for citizens’ education and awareness: the case of citizen science’.   Her project involved the daily connectivity in the Smart City, conceptualisation of citizen participation, theoretical frameworks, case studies and conclusions.  IoT powered connectivity shapes how citizens participate in the city’s life and governance, which could lead to more active citizenship; creates new opportunities for knowledge creation, and can contribute to new learning processes.  She cited researchers who noted that citizen participation is a categorical term for citizen power.  But what is ‘citizen science’?  It’s citizens actively contributing to science, creating a new scientific culture and new approaches to education.  She cited Castells’ theory of the complexity of society (1996), read through its reinterpretation by Fisher (‘Framing risk regulation: a critical reflection, 2017).  But to what extent is citizen participation really participatory?  Anna converged the theory of levels of citizen participation with the typical ladder (Arnstein) of participation-nonparticipation.  She cited the AiREAS project as a good example of citizen participation, which involves a combination of the data from the city’s monitoring air boxes with citizen health data.  Also cited the Sensornet project, which monitored the noise generated by Schipol airport.  The local community was dissatisified with official attempts to monitor noise levels, and did so themselves, very successfully.  There are YouTube videos for both projects.

There is of course a risk of the state/market’s intrusion into people’s private life through thousands of such devices in the city.  Are these breaches of citizen rights?  Achieving a genuine citizens’ participation in citizen science project is a complex goal.  Barriers to participation include those related to technical matters, societal issues, governmental, and market-related problems.  The model resulting from her citizen science project, she hopes, will guide both researchers and help citizens.  Citizen science can benefit citizens, through co-creation particularly.

We were a small audience, and perhaps as a result had a great discussion after the two presentations about a range of issues arising from them – the nature of language and colonialism, the nature of participation and how digital is affecting that.

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BILETA 2017, Parallel session 1

April 20, 2017

I’m attending a parallel session on ‘Online speech’, with the first two addressing the problems of fake news.  First up, Felipe Romero Moreno.  He analysed the definition, purpose, impact, liability, govt response and possible solutions.  On definition, he noted the difficulty — perhaps best described as ‘news without any basis in fact’.  He noted Jonathan Zittrain […]

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BILETA 2017, Keynote 1

April 20, 2017

Am at the BILETA conference, liveblogging the sessions I’m attending.  It’s being held this year at the Universidade do Minho, Escola de Direito, and the conference title is ‘International perspectives on emerging challenges in law, technology and education’.  After the welcomes, Burkhard Schafer, from SCRIPT in Edinburgh U, on ‘Creativity in AI and Law’.  Some […]

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CLEA day 2, session 2

April 14, 2017

First up, Alex Steel, UNSW, on the Smart Casual project: ‘Using online modules to build teacher confidence and skills’.  Nine modules for adjunct staff development, including Indigenous Peoples and the Law, student engagement, legal problem solving, feedback, reading law, critical thinking, comms and collaboration, legal ethics and wellness in law.  Key aspects include appropriate tone (peer […]

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CLEA, day 2 session 1

April 14, 2017

Well, this is the longest live blogging session ever — conference is well finished, but I thought that I’d get these impressions together to complete my views of papers at the conference. First up, Anne Wesemann, The Open University, on ‘The significance of EU law for the future commonwealth lawyer’.  Anne started with an exploration […]

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CLEA day 1, session 2

March 23, 2017

I had to miss a few papers for meetings.  I caught most of Jenny Chan’s paper (Jenny is a PhD student at Chinese U of HK – I know her from working with staff and students there) on ‘Collaborative and co-operative learning in legal education – the case of Hong Kong’.  Collab. vs Coop models — […]

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Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) conference, Melbourne 2017, session 1

March 22, 2017

I’m attending the CLEA conference, and giving a paper with Julian Webb (slides up on the Slides tab above). Welcome and Acknowledgment of Country by David Barker, who also presented a paper giving a general summary of the history of Australian law schools from 1960 onwards. In their paper Claire Carroll and Brad Jessup examined […]

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Learning/technology in legal education – slideset links

March 22, 2017

Links to the complete slideset here: Paul Maharg, Introduction Craig Collins, ‘Story interface and strategic design for new law curricula‘ Kristoffer Greaves, ‘Computer-aided qualitative data analysis of social media for teachers and students in legal education‘ Scott Chamberlain, ‘Affordable software simulations for teaching legal practice‘. Paul Maharg, ‘Disintermediation‘.

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