BILETA2014 reflections

by Paul Maharg on 17/04/2014

Karen McCullagh was this year’s BILETA organiser at UEA — she was great, and this year’s conference was wonderful.  Our Chair, Gavin Sutter, introduced, segued, announced; sessions ran smoothly, accommodation was good, dinner was hosted at Norwich Football Club,  and I didn’t get the connection between  the place & food until I saw the name of the restaurant, Delia’s.  I watched the Norwich-Fulham match on the TV last week (just to get a feel for the local culture, you understand), and really felt for the canaries — looks like they’re going down, alas.  Good conference dinner though, and so reminded me of Delia’s three volume cookery set…  Was it just me, though, or were the numbers down at the conference this year?  At any rate, the quality of the papers was still as high as ever; and the discussions afterwards just as stimulating.  If I didn’t managed to liveblog every session it was because I was so busy talking to publishers, making plans, etc. — which is also what conferences are for.

I’ve just checked on the main BILETA website — my first bileta conference was back in 1993, at Liverpool John Moore’s, bileta’s eighth annual conference.  So this was my twenty first year of attendance.  Not continuous of course.  I gave my first paper in 1995, a total of 15 over the years, I think.  It’s odd, but this time I feel as if it’s a new beginning, I feel like it’s the early days of bileta again.  Not sure why I should feel that — maybe it’s just the northern spring days affecting me.  Maybe also appreciating bileta as a community, too.  It’s one of the privileges of being an academic that you can belong to a scholarly body, and see it and its membership and their work develop slowly over time.  The original model is of course the Royal Society, and just as that association was pioneering in its day, so too, in its own much smaller way, is bileta.  The sense of intellectual closeness and fellowship is so important, for it brings together the disparate communities and is the glue of the association.  And as important is the apprenticeship in scholarship that the association offers to new members, as it did for me back in 1995.  Kenneth Burke expressed it well:

Imagine that you enter a parlour.  You come late.  When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about.  In fact, the discussion has already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before.  You listen for a while, until you decide you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar.  Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally’s assistance.  However, the discussion is interminable.  The hour grows late.  You must depart.  And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress.[1]

Next year, Bristol.  I’ll be there, and am looking forward to seeing all us biletians there too.  And if you’ve never been, and you’re at all interested in law, technology and education, get yourselves down there.

  1. [1] Kenneth Burke, ‘The Philosophy of Literary Form’, quoted as epigraph to Graham Allen, Harold Bloom: A Poetics of Conflict (Harvester Wheatsheaf 1994)

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Abstract for my BILETA 2014 legal education session below.  Slides up on the Slides page of this site:

The LETR Report on legal services education and training (LSET), published in June 2013, is the most recent of a series of reports dealing with legal education in England and Wales.  Many of these reports do not deal directly with technology theory and use in legal education, though it is the case that the use of technology has increased substantially in recent decades.  This is a pattern that is evident in reports in most other common law jurisdictions.  LETR does have a position on technology use and theory, however, and it positions itself in this regard against other reports in England and Wales, and those from other jurisdictions, notably those in the USA.

In this paper I shall set out that position and contrast it with regulatory statements on technology and legal education in England, Australia and the USA.  Based on a review not just of recent practical technological implementations but of the theoretical educational and regulatory literatures, I shall argue that the concept of ‘shared space’ outlined in the Report is a valuable tool for the development of technology in education and for the direction of educational theory, but most of all for the development of regulation of technology in legal education at every level.

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Cathy Easton, Lancaster U. (again) on the above.  80M disabled citizens of the EU and a further 87M EU citizens over 65 who cd benefit from a more accessible internet.  Only 39% of EU public sector websites at both a supra-national and domestic level reach an appropriate level of accessibility.  Tearing through the stats here, and difficulty for me to keep up in the welter of definitions and statutory materials; but the moral case for access she’s making seems to go beyond the European Accessibility Act (still to come into force?).  There’s been a lot of talk, but the public sector still hasn’t achieved acceptable levels.  EU Parl support for Directive on the accessibility of the public sector bodies’ websites.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities CRPD.  This was developed following a participatory model.  A rights-based approach?  A right of access to the internet, eg and tying it back to Art 19 UDHR?  CE quoted Brownsword and Goodwin (2012) – human rights will evolve with technological developments.  There are problems with this, she points out — is there or ought there to be, a right of access to internet.  I’d add two things — right to books?  Right to literacy in order to understand either books or internet?

She quoted the Charter of Human Rights on the Internet.  Underpinning right to all other rights is access to the internet.  Does this create problems…?  Is there a need for an overarching rights-based approach?

Not really a legal ed paper, but with obvious implications for legal educators and public education in the law.  I raised issues of access to books, and access to literacy, and discussion about that.  Actually the more I think about this, the more I think I was wrong: it was a legal ed paper, for the two issues she talked about (and it was a shrewd move to bring the two together) — accessibility and access  – go to the heart of the legal educational project, whether in institutions or in the wider domain of public legal education.

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Judge, camera, action

April 16, 2014

Couldn’t blog the paper entitled Making Schools Responsible for Cyberbullying — UEA connection went down… This session, the last but one legal education paper, is Michael Bromby (MB) — subtitled, Legal education and the regulation of recording and broadcasting proceedings in court.  Context was the Judicial Office for Scotland Review, 2013, and administration of Justice […]

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A low-tech solution to teaching: the book club as an educational tool

April 16, 2014

Andrew Murray, LSE, on NOT using technology — Book Club.  Why?  Community building and the need for that, between students who have little in common — 360 students from over 140 countries on the LLM he teaches.  Shared texts such as Orwell and Kafka are points in common.  Also teaches interpretive skills, esp for students […]

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After the hype: MOOCs and legal education

April 16, 2014

Next up, Cathy Easton, Lancaster University, on MOOCs and legal education.  Gave an overview of MOOCs, and the infrastructure behind the online product.  In the UK, in addition to the US models of Coursera, edx  and udacity, there’s Futurelearn.  Free of course, but you can get a certificate at a cost.  So MOOCs are being […]

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Distance learning – a step into the future

April 16, 2014

Rosemary McIlwham, from the OU, on online learning.  Defined online learning, described most law schools as at information sharing, top in Shackel’s hierarchy.  Next is active and or interactive learning, then deep learning through analysis and application of principles, and finally total immersion in the e-learning facilitation of higher order decision-making.  Rosemary wasn’t sure about […]

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BILETA 2014 keynote: Sarah Glassmeyer

April 16, 2014

0900 start, unusual for the morning after the conference dinner, so yr intrepid correspondent is doing well to be here for Sarah Glassmeyer‘s keynote, digits on more or less the right keys. A law librarian by background, she works with CALI as content director.  Big changes in virtually all jurisdictions, eg access to justice crisis, […]

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BILETA Conference 2014, UEA

April 15, 2014

Am liveblogging the BILETA 2014 conference at the University of East Anglia.  I missed last year’s Liverpool conference, so it’s great to be here amongst BILETA colleagues again.  Multiple streams, so can only provide a snapshot of some.  Am in the IP stream, and first up, Chen Wei Zhu, from Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in […]

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Parables, climbing & King Lear

April 2, 2014

Check out the discussion over at Kris Greave’s PLT Educators Australasia LinkedIn forum on personal opinions in teaching & learning which somehow ended up with theological exegesis, a video of the astonishing Ueli Steck and King Lear in a Kelp Store.  Let no one tell you legal education is dull…

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