Birkbeck London University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN23 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Pages: 24-28
ISBN: 978-84-09-52151-7
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2023.0028
Conference name: 15th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2023
Location: Palma, Spain
I am the programme director of the Certificate HE Legal Studies at Birkbeck London University. This is 120 UCAS credits of 4 modules taken across one year. Given that most of the Birkbeck school of law’s student population is characterised by mature students, many have been taking this course to enrich their legal knowledge and academic skills; others have used this as an entry qualification for a law degree.

Both reasons have encouraged me to design a course that can support students in developing skills and knowledge that are transferable. Therefore, I have drawn on pedagogical research in critical pedagogy, lifelong learning and transformative practice, and recent studies on neuroscience and education.
I have developed a blend of face-to-face and digital learning since 2018, but it has received greater attention since the advent of Covid. I now integrate all the courses I teach with e-learning components to make students’ learning experience richer, self-sustained and empowering.

The digital learning experience I would like to share at EDULEARN23 can be categorised into four parts: engagement before class for class discussion; application of self-learning, reflective practice; and assessment.
1. Engagement before class for class discussion: one example is using the VLEs’ (Moodle) posted-notes function. First, it initiates the reflective practice process, helping students discover themselves. Second, it allows sharing, creating a sense of ‘we are in it together’ and ‘we are in the same boat’. And finally, it creates content for discussion in class.
2. Application of self-learning: for this purpose, I use a VLEs tool (H5P available on Moodle) that allows the input of an answer and the subsequent generation of feedback. I have been using this tool, especially in the teaching of the Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion (IRAC) method, to answer legal problem questions, a typical exercise in law. Once the student has ‘self-learnt’ and practised how to use and apply IRAC (learning that will happen in preparation for class), the class discussion can then rely on and build on this knowledge and move on with the learning, then take the approach of ‘checking homework’.
3. Reflective practice: using a reflective journal impacts personal development and getting to know oneself. It also teases out the recognition of transformative practice. I have been using reflective practice as a minor component in most of the four modules’ assessments; however, this specific assessed reflective journal is set as a stand-alone piece of assessment in the last module. It brings enhanced features aiming to allow students to engage with their skills.
4. Assessment: I use a range and varied assessment diet in all my teaching. By doing so, students can practice and apply a different set of skills (such as in the case of online discussions). It also helps to manage students’ learning time by either having the assessment as a learning tool or by spreading the assessment across several weeks. I have recently tested a new way to assess students that is aligned with the content of teaching, hence encouraging class attendance.

These methods of blended learning have been presented and shortlisted for Birkbeck’s Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, 2022-23.
Assessment, Higher Education, Blended Learning' e-Assessment, Virtual Learning Environments.