University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 11-19
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
We argue that lecturers should ensure that students possess 21st century skills. These skills blend the traditional three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) with the four Cs (critical thinking and problem solving; creativity and innovation; communication and collaboration). We further argue that neither lawyers nor applicators of law, as part of a society within a set of interrelated systems, can afford to ignore social media provided by the Internet as social platform as it has become an imperative. However, we maintain that not all curricula make provision for 21st century skills to equip students for the postmodern society we live in. We also proffer that professionals in industry already use social media but do not fully distinguish between casual use of social media and social media which enhance professional practice. Therefore, we attempt to provide some of these skills to a group of students as part of their teaching and learning experience. From this stance, we describe our approach both theoretically and practically.

The literature related to social-interactive learning from an ecological perspective (Van Lier, 2005) and a post Vygotskian perspective on teaching, learning and development (Stetsenko & Arievich, 2008) underpins the higher education epistemology of this phenomenological study. However, activity determines the use of social media within the primary objective for this research, i.e. learning. Therefore, the significance of activity theory (Engeström, 1999) is described and practically related to the design and sequence of learning events.

This is a case study relating to Commercial Law 1A that was presented in the first semester of 2012 to 1 636 full-time B.Com students at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). Over the semester, the students had 14 double periods of face-to-face (F2F) time with the lecturer, and 14 F2F sessions in groups, facilitated by allocated tutors. As F2F sessions were limited because of time periods and physical space, contact was sustained in a virtual manner. The Blackboard learning management system (LMS), dubbed Edulink at UJ, and Twitter were perpetually used throughout the duration of the course. Moreover, we attempt to promote student interaction with these social media to enhance further on-line activity as to embed the necessitated skills.

This paper not only presents the overall learning experience of students in a qualitative manner gathered from data instruments, but also describes these instruments. It further attempts to promote the assessment capabilities of social media to enhance learning. Furthermore, we substantiate the theoretical departure by providing practical examples from the LMS and, as far as possible, substantiate our findings with quantitative data. Our findings are then stipulated according to aspects which have emerged and have been categorised in our teaching and learning approach.
Legal education, 21st century skills, LMS, social media, Vygostsky, Activity Theory, Engeström.