International perspectives (3 Short Papers 0261, 0186, 0136)


10:30 - 11:30 on Thursday, 9 September 2010 in Room 3bc


136 Transactional learning at a distance: the ANU Legal Workshop Integrated Learning Environment project
Aliya Steed


186 Forging meaningful, equal partnerships in open educational resources between the UK and Africa
Steve Stapleton, Andy Beggan


261 Full fathom five Zimbabwe’s e-Learning lies
Jill Jameson


136 Transactional learning at a distance: the ANU Legal Workshop Integrated Learning Environment project
Aliya Steed
Professional legal education has long wrestled with the challenge of creating practical, authentic, close to real-world learning experiences, while protecting students (and clients!) from the pitfalls of learning on-the-job. Many students undertaking professional learning are already working in related fields, have lengthy University experience and complicated personal lives; and designing a learning program becomes a difficult balance of flexibility, diversity and authenticity. Traditionally, this often results in a blend of decontextualised, modularized "content", skills-oriented workshops and an awkward approach to assessment. Over the past year, the ANU College of Law has transformed its practical legal training degree, the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, bringing together its traditional strength of online flexibility, and a simulation-based approach to professional learning, where students learn through conducting authentic legal transactions as members of a virtual law firm. Through ‘transactional learning’ and the open-source software developed by The SIMPLE project (http://simplecommunity.org), simulation learning has moved outside the classroom and into a more authentic online "virtual office" environment (Maharg 2007). Student ‘firms’ act as lawyers advising and representing clients, in property, commercial and civil litigation legal proceedings. They must also keep their own house in order, advising Senior Partners on ethical matters and managing their own work time, communication and professional relationships. The fully-online, distance-learning environment has a profound impact. While many elements were directly translatable from SIMPLE, parts of the model required significant adaptation, and the development of a complex web of supporting educational technology. Students work in virtual firms with mentors who are distributed across a nation (and in some cases, overseas), using a range of technologies, agreed protocols and sometimes almost painfully-determined practices. Gone are the "informal between-spaces", the corridor-conversations and the end-of-class clarifications. Such communication and expectation-setting now needs to be built explicitly into the learning activity. Guiding students through the unfamiliar and sometimes confrontational landscape of a simulation is challenging, requiring a shift in teacher roles and a careful constructed online space. This presentation will explore the ongoing work of the Integrated Learning Environment project and lessons learned about conducting simulation learning in the broader practical context of professional legal education.


186 Forging meaningful, equal partnerships in open educational resources between the UK and Africa
Steve Stapleton, Andy Beggan
Open Educational Resources (OER) can play a central part in the changing landscape of UK higher education. There are many benefits for institutions to realise when publishing open resources, including efficiency savings, promotional opportunities and improving the student experience. Open Educational Resources are also playing a part in improving the education provision across Africa. Through the BERLiN project, a 12 month JISC/ HEA Academy funded project, the University of Nottingham investigated factors fundamental to the success of OER initiatives with the findings highly relevant to UK and international contexts. Exploring academics attitudes towards OER through focus groups revealed a number of significant barriers to be addressed, and it was identified that developing meaningful partnerships between suppliers and potential users of OER would create a compelling case for University staff and contextualise the use of OER. To this end, Nottingham collaborated with OER Africa and the UK National Commission for UNESCO (ISWG) to establish a framework allowing educators in Africa to request open resources from UK HEI. In 2009 and 2010 requests were made to all projects involved in the JISC/ HEA Academy UK OER programme asking for submissions of resources to support a number of African education projects. The UK response was good, with a number of resources being supplied for consideration for inclusion as part of curriculums. The framework was mutually beneficial with the focus strongly on collaboration. OER Africa provided invaluable advice on long term sustainability models, the structure of open resources and open resource repositories and the mainstreaming of OER within institutions. This presentation provides an overview of the learning’s and outputs from the collaboration and will be interesting to anyone involved in OER activities. Specifically it covers: African education projects supported by UK OER; How UK OER has been used in African education contexts; OER deemed most valuable by African educators. This presentation also includes an overview of education projects currently being supported by OER Africa/ UK OER community with an invite being extended to attendees to join the collaboration.


261 Full fathom five Zimbabwe’s e-Learning lies
Jill Jameson
At the bottom of the metaphorical ocean of e-learning are the least digitally developed countries in the world, the lowest ranked nations in the deep undersea of a profound global digital divide. Despite impressive advances in access to information and communications technologies (ICTs) worldwide, there is still a significant disparity between high income digitally rich countries and the least developed nations, in which affordable access to and benefit from using learning technologies is severely stunted. Critical digital divide issues affecting ICT and e-learning capability in these poorest countries include lack of an ICT-enabling culture, ‘know-how', human capital, investment, electricity, equipment, software, bandwidth, pedagogical materials, and the educational readiness and technical expertise needed for capable e-learning productivity and effectiveness. Countries at the nadir of the digital divide are also disproportionately affected by poverty, illiteracy, war, corruption and disease. Zimbabwe, ranked 104th/ 104 countries in the Legatum Prosperity Index 2009 and 132nd/134 in the World Economic Forum global ICT ‘networked readiness index', with only 13.0% of its population online, faces serious challenges in implementing e-learning. Barriers to e-learning for Zimbabwean school, college and university students include a brain drain of trained teaching staff, deficits in physical access to learning technologies, unaffordable school fees, serious failures in national educational and examinations systems and the closure of whole university departments through mass migration of skilled staff. Catastrophic educational infrastructural issues led to rural schools 2009 examination results of 0% pupil achievement. This paper recommends measures by which productivity and effectiveness in e-learning for Zimbabwe could be increased, whilst mitigating risks of educational failure and continuing brain drain. Recommendations include: improved strategic planning for national ICT connectivity and effectiveness, capitalising on the development of broadband fibre-optic links; teacher training in pedagogical e-learning usage; cost-effective, innovative low tech e-learning solutions including mobile kiosks and buses for rural areas; m-learning and podcasting for students; multimodal ICTs alongside traditional print media; community radio and virtual reality initiatives and further development of existing successful projects such as the African Virtual University (AVU), College IT Enhancement Programme (CITEP), SchoolNet Africa, the Kubatana Trust and Development Through Radio (DTR) scheme.