Posted by: MandyS | February 11, 2014

Innovation in my own context

I think I would be doing the profession an injustice if I were to suggest that the learning of law is without innovation as I am aware that certain institutions and organisations  have adopted innovative methods to supplement learning. For example, Northumbria University developed a Legal advice centre, which is manned by law students and overseen by a solicitor, to develop legal skills in communication and negotiation, the CPS developed the Prosecution College to deliver online training to lawyers  and various lawyers and firms engage with Twitter as a means of sharing information and keeping up-to-date with legal goings on.

However, my own experience of innovation in tutoring with the OU is limited. I simply deliver the materials I am provided with in the way that I am told to do so i.e. via face-to-face tutorials. This does not seem very innovative for the OU but the Law Programme is peculiar in that some of its modules are run in conjunction with the University of Law (UOL). The result is inconsistency between modules and a lack of control in presentation. For example, students moving to the Level 2 modules (presented by the UOL) from W100 (presented by the OU) are surprised by the absence of the week-by-week planner and materials and the lack of online tutorials. The Law Programme has dabbled with online tutorials on W200 but this is not followed through to W201 and beyond. Likewise, use of a forum is not compulsory for either tutors or students and is therefore underutilised. Tutors are not prevented from innovating with their own students; a former colleague developed his own website for his students to access tutorial materials and I currently use a forum, OU Live, Diigo and Twitter with my own students so they can keep up-to-date and see how the law is applied in practice, but innovation is certainly not encouraged.

Undertaking the MAODE has enlightened me as to the benefits of using technology in learning and I am more than willing to experiment, as are some of my students. However, without the MAODE, I think I would still be tutoring ‘in the dark’ so to speak. Hopefully, the impending split with the UOL may have an impact and the Law Programme will become ‘business as usual’ with the OU.



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