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Legal Skills: Ensuring ‘Appy Students

Abstract
Abstract

Law has been a little slow off the mark in the UK when it comes to the world of mobile applications (apps). In an environment where students spend more time using mobile applications than they do browsing the internet, the authors were keen to take their Learnmore website to the next stage by developing an app for law students. The Learnmore website (part of the Lawbore suite of resources from City University) has received much attention for its quirky visuals, multimedia learning tools and winning marriage of librarian and student generated content. With an ultimate aim of easing the transition between A-levels and degree and making the ‘building blocks’ of legal skills more interesting. Emily and Sanmeet secured substantial funding from JISC after a call for universities to create mobile apps from existing content, teaming up with a colleague in City University's Human Computer Interaction and Design department. The app was to be designed to help students learn essential legal skills in an innovative way, employing more interaction than was possible via the web. The emphasis on video content meant an early decision to fix on iPad rather than iPhone as the tool for mobile learning. The JISC funding paid for the services of a developer to help bring their ideas to life. This paper looks at the transformation from standard wiki to mobile application; focusing on the process of developing the concept for the app and the major milestones, as well as providing an insight into the expected challenges along the way. These included: working in a multidisciplinary team, communication of ideas, recognising the differences required in design for an app as opposed to a website and managing conflicting visions. The team motto was that creating an app cannot be simply a re-skinning process; but a re-working of content to to ensure a truly effective learning resource.

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Footnotes

1 Choney, S. (2012) Apps could be overtaking the web, says report, Technology on NBC News http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/technolog/apps-could-be-overtaking-web-says-report-528483

2 New Media Consortium & EDUCAUSE, The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition. Available: http://www.nmc.org/news/and-eli-release-horizon-report-2012-hied-edition [26 April 2012]

3 Brogan, D. (2012) BBC iPlayer app more popular than ever as consumers turn to mobile TV Pocket-lint, http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/45841/bbc-iplayer-for-ipad-most-downloaded-free-app-ever

4 Selected comments from students about Learnmore:

Variety of resources is refreshing, not dull and boring like a book

Makes it stick more in my mind…

It gets intense going through textbooks as reading can become a chore – nice to have something to lighten it…

More fun to work so I concentrate more…

Different resources – online tutorials, slideshows and videos present the information in a fun and simulating way

As far as Learnmore goes, I've probably seen or read almost everything on the site! I feel like when you get to law school you're forced to hit the ground running, often so quickly that you feel like you're completely unprepared for the challenges that get thrown at you. However, Learnmore breaks down the foundations of being a successful law student into bite-sized pieces, albeit pieces with great graphics and cool designs. It helps you teach yourself things you might not think you're capable of doing. I learned how to moot from Learnmore and so when I showed up for my first-ever moot, I knew how to write a skeleton, make a bundle, address the judge and handle questioning. If not for Learnmore, I probably would have shown up armed only with the knowledge of 22 years of watching American legal shows, ready to shout “Objection!” and refer to my opposing counsel as something much less respectful than “my learned friend”!

5 Traxler J. (2010) Will student devices deliver innovation, inclusion and transformation? Journal of the Research Centre for Educational Technologies 6(1), 315in Melhuish Karen & Falloon Garry (2010) Looking to the future: M-Learning with the iPad, Computers in New Zealand Schools: Learning, Leading Technology, 22(3).

6 JISC Grant Funding 12/11: Digital Infrastructure Portfolio http://www.jisc.ac.uk/fundingopportunities/funding_calls/2011/07/grant12_11.aspx

7 Traxler J. (2010) Will student devices deliver innovation, inclusion and transformation? Journal of the Research Centre for Educational Technologies 6(1), 315in Melhuish Karen & Falloon Garry (2010) Looking to the future: M-Learning with the iPad, Computers in New Zealand Schools: Learning, Leading Technology, 22(3).

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Legal Information Management
  • ISSN: 1472-6696
  • EISSN: 1741-2021
  • URL: /core/journals/legal-information-management
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