Thursday, October 31, 2013

Brick Dust on the Forehead

There is something deeply liberating about not being affiliated to one specific organisation, it gives you the freedom to be more, well, yourself really. This is of course fairly ludicrous, shouldn't you always be you? But there is something about organisations, institutions and industries that just seems to stifle who we really are and I think it's mainly about becoming compliant. Seth Godin covers this very neatly in The Icarus Deception. So why am I thinking about this? Because I know that this compliance training starts in education and enough is enough.

I attended a conference about Legal Innovation and Legal Education this week, well I say attend, I followed the #innovatelaw tag on Twitter from my fireside here in Norway - but you catch the drift. 

It was all reasonably polite and the debate was sincere etc, but there just came a point when I had that moment of clarity: 

I've listened endlessly, read endlessly and talked endlessly about innovation and education in law and I'm bored with it. Not bored because I don't care or don't think that there are endless possibilities, I'm just bored because so little happens. When I first came into the industry there was talk of the Training Framework Review which went on endlessly ad infinitum with very little happening, the LETR showed more promise, but as that went through the very wide and transparent debate around the country (kudos to the team on how open and transparent they were) I still had to listen to a lot of people from industry, regulators etc pontificate about legal education and then demonstrate they knew very little about learning, they were simply interested in maintaining the machine of compliance that exists and curating a museum of how it was. The Bar Standards Board were by far the worst offenders I saw of this. So often at these debates or discussions, I saw the voice of the student drowned out or not represented. I have sat in meetings and listened to colleagues talk about rigour and brightness required, yet know nothing about brain cognition, multiple intelligences or divergent and convergent thought. 

I have attended numerous "future law" talks and conferences where the usual suspects like Richard Susskind regurgitate Kurzweil's singularity for lawyers and when he's not available they actually get Ray in to talk about The Singularity, which I'm sure was really helpful and pragmatic to the lawyers in the audience. I've been to a talk by a barrister explaining to me "The Cloud" and how they've moved all their documents to Ipads via the cloud (essentially they had discovered Dropbox) and it all scares me. It scares me because I know you're better than that. I know you can be innovative and creative, it's an innate human characteristic. 

Before we go to that though, I've got to just say this talking and chin stroking has just got to stop. If we're going to change or innovate let's at least throw off the shackles of what is stopping us. I want to follow Howard Beale's example and just shout "I'm Mad As Hell and I'm Not Going to Take It Any More!"

Does that feel better? Okay. So we need to accept that if we're going to get anywhere we have to stop fixating on the "i" word,  the more you use that word the less likely you are to actually do it. We need to go back to basics and think "play" which means a bit of de-programming how you've been educated.

Now nobody is going to set up a Legal Education Council, with a nice committee etc so we may as well stop debating that now. Sure we can go and ask for some money from The Legal Education Foundation and we should (they have £200million somewhere). But as Jobs said "No-one is going to give you permission to put a dent in the Universe, you just have to do it".

So why not just set up a brain trust of people that want to do this, play, prototype, gamestorm it, hack it and try some solutions - we know the problem domain, it's time to move onto building solutions. 

Guess what in the 11 years since I first heard all this debate starting, the world has invented some really cool tools for collaboration virtually, thus making it less onerous for people to create movements. We don't need any committee halls or lecture theatres, let's use Google DocsBasecampVoicethreadHangouts etc, etc. 

I know revolutionary talk and all that is very zeitgeist at the moment, and that is not the reason I raise this - it is because our futures and our kids futures need this, we need to start solving some of the great big problems on the way - that needs law, but it's going to need a much more agile, creative, inventive, collaborative bunch of lawyers and legal services to deliver it. So we have to start now with legal ed to get ready. Time to break down that dusty brick wall that has been giving me a headache for too long.

The Backchannel Comments

Happy FF Halloween

It's a tradition of sorts to make a few Halloween vids for Twitter folk, here is this year's episode:

featuring: @_millymoo, @bhamiltonbruce, @lifeincustody, @richardmoorhead, @legalbizzle

and from the archives:

Skeleton Dance feat: @bhamiltonbruce, @paulbernaluk, @richardmoorhead, @lifeincustody & @_millymoo

The Time Warp feat: @jezhop, @_millymoo, @lifeincustody, @charonqc & @richardmoorhead

The Monster Mash feat: @charonqc, @kilroyt, @benwheway, @ikenceo & @brianinkster

Math Camp Massacre feat: @jezhop, @legalbrat, @rupertwhite, @annanev, @alicemorrissey & @legalbizzle

Night of the Living Dead ish feat: @charonqc & @_millymoo

And of course the one that kicked it off:

feat: @lifeincustody, @_millymoo, @richardmoorhead, @stevekuncewicz & @jonb1966

Got more #FF vids planned for the future.... Watch this space.

Whilst in the archives I also found this early action horror trailer I made on VHS (hence degraded quality) for GCSE media, yep that's me with a shaven head and jumping off a bridge.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Futures of Legal Education and the Legal Profession 2013 CEPLER Conference - The Perfect Storm of Legal Education

On Friday 18th October I gave a talk at CEPLER 2013 in which I outlined the work I have done in legal education, along with ideas and views I have on the topic.

Here are the slides from the talk:

You can also see the Twitter back channel feedback from the talk here.

I covered many aspects within my talk about higher education bubbles, student zeitgeist, learning design etc, etc. As promised what follows is a list of recommended resources to widen knowledge on these topics.

I have found Sfard (1998) On Two Metaphors of Learning an extremely useful paper on thinking about and opening discourse about learning not being uni directional from the tutor.

I think seeking out student opinion and listening to the zeitgeist of that experience is important, I often use the Youtubers videos on education to illustrate this, particularly Dan Brown's An Open Letter to Educators and Suli Breaks I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My FateMessage to Those Struggling in Education and Why I Hate School But Hate Education

Books about Higher Ed bubble, marketisation and failings that are recommended reading:

Molesworth et al The Marketisation of Higher Education and the Student as Consumer
Arum & Roksa Academically Adrift
Harlan Reynolds The Higher Education Bubble
Christensen & Eyring The Innovative University
Siemens How Large Systems Change
Leadership Foundation The New HE Climate: Disruptive Inovations
Ernst & Young University of the Future
Barber, Donnelly & Rizvi The Avalanche is Coming

Also be wary of the totality of the "education is broken" meme prevalent in education, predominantly pushed by publishers and venture capitalists all ready with a "solution" - most of these themes are brilliantly pulled apart by Martin Weller at: Broken Education Tumblr and it's also worth keeping an eye on The MOOC Research Initiative to avoid the MOOC Hype.

I first experienced MOOCs by attending Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (2008) which was where the term "MOOC" was first coined, it opened my eyes to the work of Stephen DownesGeorge Siemens and Dave Cormier - pioneers of new pedagogic approaches such as Connectivism and Rhizomatic Education. This course ignited a fire of exploration about education that no traditional model could have achieved, it opened up a great discourse with global educators along with connecting me to further interesting work in educational technology and innovation. That year I started an annual mind map of the things I learned. I strongly recommend doing it and using it for reflection. It also got me thinking about object orientated design with my colleague:

Around the same time as I absorbed and processed all of this I made a video of stats for legal education that was kind of a meme in education at the time, whilst the stats have evolved, as have some of the thinking, the message remains fairly strong still.

This all then lead to studying an MA in Online Education and Distance Learning (which I strongly recommend the modules of for anyone interested in educational innovation and development) and reading further about Learning Design:

Open University Learning Design Initiative
Learning Design for 21st Century Curriculum
Learning Design Support Environment

Laurillard (2001) Rethinking University Teaching
Laurillard (2012) Teaching as a Design Science
Wiliam (2011) Embedded Formative Assessment
Schell The Art of Game Design
Gray, Brown & Macanuffo Gamestorming

When you mix learning design, pedagogic theory and neuroscience together, you start to get a compelling picture of techniques, strategies and approaches that are effective.

Mayer & Moreno (2003) 9 Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning
Saljo (2010) Digital Tools and Challenges to Institutional Traditions of Learning
Krashen Comprehensible Input
Dror  Making Learning Memorable
Clark (2010) Don't Lecture Me
Borden (2009) What Learners Need
Schell Learning is Beautiful
Hellinger 5 Essentials of Personalised Learning
Betts The 2 Sigma Problem
Mitra School in the Cloud
Siemens Intro to Learning Analytics

I strongly believe the world of work is changing at a radical pace and will do for our children. That requires us to really engage with what education they need, be it legal or general.

PSFK The Future of Work Report
Snowden The Cynefin Framework
Lima The Power of Networks
Betts Learning Locker
Robinson Changing Education Paradigms

I hope these resources and readings are helpful. I try to bookmark interesting articles etc on Delicious and need to update links again soon, if you want to delve deeper, dive into the Rabbit Hole

Here are some examples of the work done at The University of Law on the LLB:

The next educational adventures are working on Law Without Walls new LWOWx and a MOOC that embraces the ideas of Wayseeing amongst other exciting challenges. I'll keep the blog posted.

For more coverage of CEPLER2013:

Law Sync CEPLER Pt 1 Law Sync CEPLER Pt 2

Ed Lines CEPLER Reflections Pt 1 Ed Lines CEPLER Reflections Pt 2

Law Sync Storify of CEPLER Twitter Back Channel

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Goodbyes (sort of)

So here's phase 2 of my all change for 2013 plan. I'm leaving the UK to live in Norway full time, which meant selling the house and jacking in the job. Done.

So all that's left is to say goodbye in person. With limited time (I have to pack up my house and speak at CEPLER 2013) before I go, my friends at This is Your Laugh have kindly let me hijack and piggyback on one of their excellent comedy nights.

So if you fancy coming along to say goodbye with a drink and a bit of comedy, I'll be at the stunning Grand Union Bar, Chancery Lane on Tuesday 15th October from 7pm until late. The comedy show starts at 8pm and you can buy tickets here (I'd like to point out that this is not some money making for me, it is supporting a venture I love and believe in though, so your attendance/support of the comedy would make my night)

For those that can't make it, make sure you come and visit the mountains someday soon.

Home is Where The Heart Is from Jon Harman on Vimeo.