Presentation Title

Implementing a Blended Learning Strategy in the School of Law (Fremantle): Constitutional Law as a Case-Study

Abstract

This paper reports on the implementation of a blended learning strategy in the School of Law (Fremantle) in 2021. The success of the law school and its reputation in the legal profession have been attributed to its high-quality face-to-face learning and teaching. Following almost a year of enforced ‘online’ learning in 2020, the law school turned its attention to planning for the return to face-to face learning as a high priority in 2021. However, in 2021 the school was still constrained by limited classroom capacity and physical distancing rules.

The law school therefore decided to implement a blended learning strategy that made it possible to resume face-to-face delivery for all law courses, supported by meaningful online learning. As explained by Garrison and Vaughn (2011:5) ‘blended learning is the thoughtful fusion of face-to-face and online learning experiences’. Blended learning involves a ‘fundamental redesign that transforms the structure of, and approach to, teaching and learning’ (Garrison and Vaughn, 2011:5). It involves restructuring class contact hours, curriculum content, learning activities and teaching practices.

This purpose of this paper is twofold. Part I explains the blended learning strategy adopted by the law school, which was informed by relevant research and prior teaching experience. Part II reviews the implementation of blended learning in constitutional law. This is based on critical reflective practice considering these key aspects: preparing students for blending learning, designing course materials and learning activities, and student engagement. Reflective practice is ‘about learning from experience’ (Thompson and Pascal, 2012:314) and questioning ‘assumptions on which we base our work’ (Sherwood and Horton-Deutsch, 2012:8), which is essential for continuous improvement.

Implementing a blended learning strategy presented challenges but also brought opportunities. Challenges include workload constraints and a lack of a cohesive pedagogical framework. Opportunities include a focus on deeper learning and enhanced student engagement.

References

D Garrison and N Vaughn, Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles and Guidelines (Wiley and Sons, 2011)

Neil Thompson and Jan Pascal, ‘Developing Critically Reflective Practice’ (2012) 13(2) Reflective Practice 314

Gwen Sherwood and Sara Horton-Deutsch, Reflective Practice: Transforming Education and Improving Outcomes (Sigma, 2012)

Key words: blended learning; online learning; reflective practice; law; constitutional law

Theme

blended learning

Presenter Bio

Professor Joan Squelch joined the School of Law in July 2013.

Prior to joining the University of Notre Dame Australia, Joan lectured in the School of Business Law and Taxation at Curtin University. While at Curtin University Joan also held the positions of Head of School of Business Law and Taxation and Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor of the Curtin Business School.

Joan began her career teaching in schools in South Africa and Botswana. She then lectured undergraduate and postgraduate courses in educational management, law and policy at the University of South Africa, Pretoria (1990 - 1998) and Rand Afrikaans University, Johannesburg (1999 - 2002). Joan immigrated to Perth from South Africa in 2002 with her husband Andrew.

Presentation Type

Presentation

Location

Zoom session commences 10am AWST/12 noon AEST

Start Date

29-9-2021 11:02 AM

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Sep 29th, 11:02 AM

Implementing a Blended Learning Strategy in the School of Law (Fremantle): Constitutional Law as a Case-Study

Zoom session commences 10am AWST/12 noon AEST

This paper reports on the implementation of a blended learning strategy in the School of Law (Fremantle) in 2021. The success of the law school and its reputation in the legal profession have been attributed to its high-quality face-to-face learning and teaching. Following almost a year of enforced ‘online’ learning in 2020, the law school turned its attention to planning for the return to face-to face learning as a high priority in 2021. However, in 2021 the school was still constrained by limited classroom capacity and physical distancing rules.

The law school therefore decided to implement a blended learning strategy that made it possible to resume face-to-face delivery for all law courses, supported by meaningful online learning. As explained by Garrison and Vaughn (2011:5) ‘blended learning is the thoughtful fusion of face-to-face and online learning experiences’. Blended learning involves a ‘fundamental redesign that transforms the structure of, and approach to, teaching and learning’ (Garrison and Vaughn, 2011:5). It involves restructuring class contact hours, curriculum content, learning activities and teaching practices.

This purpose of this paper is twofold. Part I explains the blended learning strategy adopted by the law school, which was informed by relevant research and prior teaching experience. Part II reviews the implementation of blended learning in constitutional law. This is based on critical reflective practice considering these key aspects: preparing students for blending learning, designing course materials and learning activities, and student engagement. Reflective practice is ‘about learning from experience’ (Thompson and Pascal, 2012:314) and questioning ‘assumptions on which we base our work’ (Sherwood and Horton-Deutsch, 2012:8), which is essential for continuous improvement.

Implementing a blended learning strategy presented challenges but also brought opportunities. Challenges include workload constraints and a lack of a cohesive pedagogical framework. Opportunities include a focus on deeper learning and enhanced student engagement.

References

D Garrison and N Vaughn, Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles and Guidelines (Wiley and Sons, 2011)

Neil Thompson and Jan Pascal, ‘Developing Critically Reflective Practice’ (2012) 13(2) Reflective Practice 314

Gwen Sherwood and Sara Horton-Deutsch, Reflective Practice: Transforming Education and Improving Outcomes (Sigma, 2012)

Key words: blended learning; online learning; reflective practice; law; constitutional law