New teaching project: the Internet and the Law
This blogpost is an introduction to a new teaching project in the CUHK Faculty of Law led by me, Professor Angela Daly. The project will involve me and the students taking the LLB elective the Internet and the Law course co-creating open access innovative teaching materials on the subject. The 13 week course will run for the first time in January 2019.
The course will commence with some traditional lecturing weeks to give the students an introduction to the main issues and to approaches in what will be a new area of law for them, as well as an introduction to the course’s innovative methods.
As the weeks progress, we will transition to the students having a more active role: they will, guided by the teaching team, identify research topics on which to base their coursework; they will present on their topic to the class and receive feedback from the teaching team and peers; and they will start to work on their research papers.
Alongside this, students and the teaching team will contribute material about the Hong Kong jurisdiction to a wiki on Internet Law, and will identify relevant Hong Kong legislation and case-law to upload to the CYRILLA Project’s database of Internet Law in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Students will also have the option to make their final research project papers available publicly.
The aim of this course and method is to harness the successful ‘student as producer’ model developed by Professor Mike Neary (Lincoln University) and colleagues to engage students in research-engaged teaching and for them to be knowledge producers themselves in an area of law which has not been well-documented. The approach to this course is underpinned by values such as co-operativism, a subversion of unnecessary hierarchical structures that divide different categories of university members, concerns with the high price of academic textbooks and the corresponding tightening of access to knowledge and culture that such high prices entail.
I am a new member of staff and this is the first time that this course has been taught at CUHK law. Further, there are no up-to-date textbooks on Hong Kong Internet Law, and those that do exist are pricey. Given this ‘triple’ clean slate, and my commitment to incorporating flipped classroom techniques in my teaching, I wanted to attempt an innovative and ambitious approach to the course. I applied for, and was awarded, a CUHK Courseware Development Grant to create multimedia course materials.
Not only will these materials for Internet Law use innovative technology, they will also be innovative in their methods as well, since the student cohort will co-create the materials with myself and a teaching assistant (who is likely to be one of the CUHK Law PhD students).
This project was inspired by my former colleague, Associate Professor Nicolas Suzor from Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Law, Australia (QUT). Associate Professor Suzor has been pioneering open access law teaching materials for some years. He has led the coordination of an open access Australian Intellectual Property law textbook, which has received contributions from various other prominent IP law academics in Australia.
While I was working at QUT just prior to moving to CUHK, I contributed to Dr. Suzor’s other open access teaching project, on Internet Governance in Australia. These resources have also been developed with input from students from Internet Law and Intellectual Property Law classes at QUT.
I was very inspired by working on this open access project with Associate Professor Suzor given how expensive and outdated textbooks in our area of teaching and research become and the many developments which happen in the law and technology space. For ‘small’ jurisdictions like Australia and Hong Kong, with a smaller market for textbooks than e.g. the UK or the US, traditional ‘closed’ and proprietary materials may not be up-to-date and may be very expensive for students.
Associate Professor Suzor is an advisor to this new CUHK project creating resources on Hong Kong Internet Law. I have been drawing on his experience and guidance in preparing and planning for the Law and the Internet course which will commence in January 2019.
In addition to the wiki, we are also going to contribute material to the CYRILLA Collaborative project about Internet Law in Hong Kong. CYRILLA was launched in late 2017 with a dataset of legislation, draft law and case law from the 22 Arab League states, and it is now scaling up to cover jurisdictions in other parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa. We are delighted that we will also be contributing to this wonderful project, which is being run by Harvard Berkman Klein Center Fellow, Ms. Jessica Dheere.
It is my hope that the materials that we create in this project will be an engaging experiment for myself and the students and make a greater contribution to knowledge and understanding of Internet Law in Hong Kong. I hope the materials will be used by other educators teaching Internet Law in Hong Kong and beyond, as well as comprising a useful resource for practising lawyers, policymakers, academics from various disciplines and those working in the private sector.
At the same time as co-creating the project resources, another important output of the project will be an evaluation of the project. The first method of evaluation will be my assessment of the students’ learning skills over the course of the unit, including problem solving, presentation skills, research skills and writing skills. The second method of evaluation will involve the students being invited to fill in a survey towards the end of the course, with an option for students who have expressed their interest to be contacted to participate in a further focus group. The data will be collected and analysed in order to understand better what the students themselves thought of the course and its innovative learning methods.
Once the course has been completed, I will write a follow-up post or posts for this blog on how the course went. I plan to use the experience of running this course as material for an academic journal article on teaching and learning in the discipline of law using innovative methods. This will be a new and exciting direction for my research as well.