Thursday, January 9, 2014

Re-Shaping Online Education:The Evolving Role of Online Educators: Part III

With respect to my last post, you may have noticed a little white square near the beginning. Well, just as we have advanced technologically, Murphy(as in Murphy's Law), has also entered the digital age. The graphic that disappeared was a sketch of a student facing his teacher, proclaiming these words of wisdom:

" If A Single Teacher Can't Teach Us All Subjects, Then..... How Could You Expect A Single Student To Learn All Subjects??

Having clarified that I would like to describe to you how a virtual courtroom might work in the teaching of Law online. To describe this to you, I first would like to give you a little preamble.
In designing online courses that are going to be part of an LMS, it is important to make sure that the LMS can do what it says it can do. A number of years ago I designed a virtual court room trusting that the means to make it work existed as the LMS designers said it did. My design description of how this virtual world court room should work took a great deal of my time. When I submitted it for activation within the Law course that I had written, I was told that the means to make it all work didn't work. Therefore, what I am about to describe to you is untested but even if one of you can see the possibilities of what could be, then it is worth it.

The virtual court room was to be made up of three rooms connected by three doors. The first room could be called the student preparation lobby. In this room the following things would happen:
  • Students would take on specific roles. For example, students who were just starting into the course and had not yet reached the unit on Criminal Law, could be assigned one of four roles with the accompanying avatars. They could be a member of the jury, they could be a witness to the alleged crime, they could be the alleged victim of the crime(assuming that the crime was not fatal for the victim) or they could be a news reporter for the court. All potential members of the jury would be required to create a YouTube video introducing themselves and create a summary bio that would be accessible to the Defence Attorney, Prosecutor and the Judge. Students who were already involved in the unit on Criminal Law would take the roles of the Defence Attorney, Second Chair, Prosecutor & Second Chair. The Judge would be played by a real judge willing to offer his or her time to take part in this learning experience.
  • In this preparation room would also be the physical evidence. The Attorneys would have access to examining the physical evidence and also any forensic evidence that is made available. Using 3d graphics and motion, the evidence could be examined from a number of perspectives. The role of the attorneys would involve in coming up with an explanation and interpretation of the evidence as they see it supporting their case. The Attorneys would have the ability to call up an Attorney avatar, visible only to themselves, to seek procedural advice.
  • Time in the preparation room would have a limit. At a designated time the door to the court room where the trial is to take place becomes accessible to the participants. Following proper court room procedure, the trial would begin when the trial judge enters the court room.
  • At the end of the trial, the third door leading to the jury discussion room becomes accessible to jury members only. Here is where the jury will have the ability to call up the physical and forensic evidence, have testimony of witnesses played back, which could be in the form of accessing a You Tube video of the testimony.
  • The teacher's role in this is to select the cases for trial, and to moderate proceedings in the preparation room and in the jury room.
  • The trial judge, at the end of the trial, would present his or her views to the participants on the strengths and weaknesses of how the trial was conducted. This is assessment for learning for the students. In the assessment of learning for the students, it would be helpful to take input from the trial judge.
There are a number of potential variations that you could make but the bottom line should be that this should be perceived by the students as a real event and that the decisions that they made during the trial had consequences affecting the outcome. As with the other virtual world I described in the last post, it is necessary that students know that there is a time limit on the event.
Due to the asynchronous nature of the virtual education world, students entering the course would have to have a marquee announcement that on a specific day they must take part in this event.
All I have given you are the broad strokes of this idea on virtual court rooms.

Next.....Exploration of Human Biology in a virtual world.

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