This post was written by Michael Doherty, Illan rua Wall, Rachel Killean, Lydia Bleasdale and Emma Flint
Connecting Legal Education started as a temporary, ad hoc, casual, spur of the moment response to what we now call Lockdown One, back in March 2020. It is with some surprise that we find ourselves almost a year down the line reaching our quarter century of events. As we said to CLE members, if you keep turning up we’ll carry on finding and hosting brilliant speakers talking about legal education projects that continue to illuminate, provoke and inspire. CLE#25, a podcasting special, was very much in this vein. We were delighted to be joined by Dr Illan rua Wall (Warwick) and Dr Rachel Killean (Queens, Belfast – presenting on a project she undertook with her colleague Richard Summerville). Many of you will have read the articles they published in 2019/20 in the Law Teacher on their respective projects;
Illan discussed his project on podcasting as an assessment element on his Law and Disorder module at Warwick. The module covers a spectrum of states and activities including protest, revolt, state dissolution and transitional justice, and includes exploration of the affective elements of these states of unrest (often explored through film and audio). He wanted to develop an assessment that aligned with the exploratory nature of the module grounded in human experience and alighted on podcasting.
The use of podcasting on the module is ambitious and moves beyond a simple recorded monologue or interview. He builds time into the module for students to build podcasting skills, including technical proficiency, interview techniques, and the pacing and dynamics of oral storytelling. Students interview external experts and so require ethical approval, and what could be seen as a barrier is used as a learning opportunity.
Illan focussed in his presentation on the impact of the podcasting process on the participants self-identity as undergraduate students, working in the liminal zone between school and professional work. For the first time, the students did not have a captive audience (the marker who must read the essay) but also had to think about how to convince an external audience that does not have to listen to give their attention to these stories. The engagement with an external expert also disrupted their received notions of their role. Their preparation for the interview was above that normally expected from an UG student and the encounter was more of an interchange than an expert-acolyte discussion. The possibility of publication also produced feelings of affirmation – the students were creating something of wider value to the community and raised their sights accordingly.
You can access the published podcasts and subscribe via http://ordersindecay.com/
Rachel outlined the student-led legal podcasting project, LawPod, at QUB. She brought out the many similarities and some differences from the Warwick project. LawPod is extracurricular and available to all students in the School. Students work in small teams of 2-4 allocated by interests rather than level of study. They can explore any topic but popular themes are legal tech, criminal justice and transitional justices issues. The LawPod platform is also used by the Law School, e.g. for recording and disseminating interviews with visiting scholars.
Some key benefits emerged from Rachel’s survey of student experiences in undertaking podcasting. Students felt that they enhanced their legal knowledge and developed an understanding of law as a contingent and cultural phenomenon. They developed practical and technical skills in interviewing and managing the production of an audio artefact for wider publication. Working in cross-cohort groups gave them a greater sense of the responsibilities of team and of collaboration and community.
You can learn more about the project, listen to the podcasts and subscribe for updates via http://lawpod.org/
Future #ConnectLegalEd sessions
Our schedule for #ConnectLegalEd hangouts this term includes sessions on applying for Fellow, Senior Fellow and Principal Fellow status (as part of our series on career development for law teachers), on international study and legal education and on the evolving place of Legal Tech in the law curriculum.
As ever, if you wish to join the Teams space for future #ConnectLegalEd hangouts, please drop a line to Michael Doherty (firstname.lastname@example.org), Lydia Bleasdale (email@example.com), or Emma Flint (E.E.Flint@bham.ac.uk).