ALT-C is to be held on 7-9 September 2010 in Nottingham, with the theme "Into something rich and strange" - making sense of the sea-change.
Shortly followed by SLS in Southampton(13-16 Sept), whose main theme is "The Human Rights Act Ten Years On" with Lord Justice Sedley of the Court of Appeal and Lord Reed of the Court of Session in discussion with Professor David Feldman.
LILAC will be from 28-29 January 2011 in Warwick, with a submission deadline coming up soon on 10 Sept 2010. The keynote speaker will be Professor John Brennan, Director of the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI) and Professor of Higher Education Research at the Open University.
The dates for the 26th annual BILETA conference are 11-12 April 2011, two weeks before Easter. Manchester Metroplitan Law School at hosting the event, they will be using twitter @bileta2011 for regular updates.
The SLSA will be in Brighton at the University Sussex (12-14 April) immediately after BILETA.
The 46th ALT conference will also be the week before Easter from 18-20 April in Cardiff. Their website is yet to be updated, and information will appear soon.
As usual, the UKCLE diary contains many other events and has an RSS feed to keep you up to date. Listed below are 10 forthcoming events:
For those interested in Twitter, I thought an early #FollowFriday (or #FF) was worth a blog entry too. I might do the occasional learning and teaching, or law-oriented #FF in the future and post it via the blog.
The hashtag #bileta got a fair bit of use earlier this week, and some of the delegates were:
Bright and early with a 9am start, despite the excellent conference reception at the Vienna City Hall the previous night. I provide a generic night-time image of the gothic towers, and not a photo of the delegates, particularly in the light of Diane Rowland's presentation on photography and privacy! Speeches were given by the organiser, the chair of BILETA, and an Austrian member of parliament - welcoming us to the city.
Chairing this final session and blogging has been a challenge, but the last e-learning session was of interest as the speakers brought a wider dimension of e-learning in schools. Bernhard Racz from the EU Network of Innovative Schools spoke about the increasing need for ICT skills across all age ranges. Their e-skills week promotes not only the use of technology, but also the sharing and repurposing of materials across Europe. This has constraints - firstly Bernhard noted the differences between copyright, but also the language barriers makes sharing less straighforward. Termed TravelWell Learning Objects, the website defines and lists criteria for learing objects that 'travel well' and have value to an international audience.
The second speaker, Christian Dorninger from the Austrian Ministry of Education, also emphasised the point that the current generation of 'digital natives' expect technology in the classroom as it is used extensively in life in general. Decreasing costs are allowing students to have laptops in schools but pedagogic approaches to teaching require some changes to make best use of the hardware and software. Certification was also discussed to ensure general levels of competence, for example the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). Chrisian also spoke about community learning platforms, the use of Moodle and also simulations, which clearly resonates with many of the BILETA e-learning papers for law and higher education.
Gerald Futscheck, also president of the Austrian Computing Society (conference host), gave the third paper that furthered the discussion of certification, ECDL, etc. but also about more advanced requirements for those who wish to learin in depth, perhaps to create a more professional website or provide goods/services online. Gerald looked to the benefits of IT certificates for society as a whole (information society) as well as for the particular graduates who undertake the tests for higher levels of knowledge and for job mobility. Questions from the audience brought about discussion of a possible economic divide as the system in Austria does provide free certification for students (as it provides free education), but cannot provide the laptops or software licenses.
The fourth speaker, Thomas Menzel also from the Austrian Ministry of Education, furthered the discussion of Christian Dorninger regarding centralised IT services in Austria. The IT department within the ministry (smaller than that of the University of Vienna) provides e-learning tools to schools through various webites such as bildung.at. This paricular website allows teachers to browse for subject-specific materials for various levels of education and import these resources directly into their VLE for the school students.
I thought, whist in Vienna, I would attend this parallel as the last session of the day to see how two universities in Vienna are using e-learning.
The university law faculty is one of the oldest and largest faculties in Europe, with an e-learning strategy in place since 2005 for blended learning, or bLearning. As the law in action involves human interaction, this strategy aims to keep legal education based largely on human interactions too.
E-learning tools have helped with administration, facilitated communication between students in a more intelligent way than previous email systems, and the dissemination of exam results. The key notions of the strategy are:
1. Law literacy - which may be delivered online and remotely
2. Law knowledge - to be provided on campus in real time and face to face
The official platform is Fronter (review in German), with Moodle used as a secondary alternative platform. This VLE is also used for induction, exchange students, international seminars/papers and exams as well as the typical teaching materials.
E-learning at the more modern Vienna University of Economics and Business was also discussed - in particular the advent of web2.0 and social media tools such as user-driven content (wikipedia), OER sites (iTunes), and social networks (facebook). Strategies have been developed to take account of these technologies and develop their own VLE platform Learn@WU based upon open-source technologies The website offers quite a wealth of information about the VLE in English.
The second e-learning tool session started with Sarah King and Angela Kerry who presented their Virtual Solicitors' Office at Birmingham City University. Their emphasis is on the clients, their needs and reacting to the problem rather than solely concentrating on the legal issues and the 'right answer'. This means that the scenarios are never really out of date, even if the law changes this is only related to the responses the students give to the scenarios.
The project received input from practitioners to ensure both a high degree of realistic content and to ensure the 'look and feel' is right. Indeed the speakers indicated that the law practices are interested in the concept of the virtual office for CPD and ongoing training for solicitors working with clients. They also gave an amusing set of 'out-takes' from the cutting room floor as they themselves featured in some of the video'd scenarios as the solicitor!
The second speaker was Paul Maharg, who along with Karen Barton and Patricia McKellar gave an overview of open education resources (their JISC funded project) which will be followed by a workshop tomorrow afternoon.
Paul classified three types of OER initiatives:
Karen and Patricia then gave an overview of the SimShare project, which will allow users to download simulations, change them if required for their own purposes, and then upload new additions back onto the site. Sustainabilty appears not to be the main issue, rather it is the Community of Practice (CoP) needed to get things started and creating content as a 'commons-based peer production'.
The speakers finished with a call for simulations (not necessarily SIMPLE-based, or particularly complex) and for academics to become involved, not just from law, but from other disciplines too.
The first of several e-learning sessions at BILETA began after lunch.
My own paper on using delicious for collaborative shared resources is online at slideshare. Questions focussed on dealing with disputes, if students felt that academic papers were wrongly annotated or inappropriate tags were used. Further discussion looked at whether collaborative work was disadvantageous and that good students would be 'carrying' weaker students, although the experience itself is on its own is a personal learning experience.
The second speaker, Erich Schweighofer from Vienna, gave an interesting paper on semi-automatic marking for legal essays. The challenge of marking large numbers of student essays with low numbers of faculty/staff has led to the development of a computer system to analyse essay content. This reminded me of the comparative paired methodology SWAP workshop that I attended in Jan 2009. Erich's system can be seen as more consistent than human marking, but may not always be as accurate for longer written essays. Indeed multiple choice and short answers can be graded easily and accurately by computer systems.
Pheh Hoon Lim (Auckland University) presented a comparative paper regarding copyright (essentially a legal test with plagiarism (which is an ethical test). Looking to the older case of Pike v Nicholas  and the more recent da Vinci case. An interesting table gave examples of when copyright is infringed, when plagiarism occurs, when attribution can be a defence, and when it cannot.
Following welcome addresses from both the Law and Computer Science faculties, the conference chair (Erich Schweighofer) officially opened the conference and a panel of speakers gave a plenary address.
Abdul Paliwala spoke of, and paid homage to, the pioneers of the past (Martin, Susskind, de Mulder & Leith) and looked to the future with possible new jurisprudence, a reversal of emphasison IT law to Legal Informatics, and a new culture with web2.0, creative commons and open access legal inforation such as WorldLII.
Abdul alsopresented the 9th volume of the LEFIS Series, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of BILETA as a organisation and conference organiser. Conference delegates received a copy of the book, BILETA institutional members will also receive a copy and so will a number of academic departments developing countries.
The chapters within the book are also available in the first edition of the newly re-named European Journal of Law and Technology (EJLT), previously known at JILT, but still within the group of Electronic Law Journals. The first such edition of EJLT (vol 1, no 1) was released by Abdul at the conference and can now be viewed online at: http://ejlt.org//issue/current.
BILETA: The British and Irish Law, Education and Technology Association does like to promote a more global conference than just British and Irish issues, delegates and indeed venues - so BILETA 2010 comes to Vienna and the remarkable central buildings of the Universität Wien.
Starting with parallel sessions, Moira MacMillan presented a paper co-authored with Martin Jones, both from Glasgow Caledonian University. Following a historical overview of land registration in Scotland, Moira illustrated how an enabling Electronic Communications Order has allowed certain documents to be registered online.
There has been a low take up of ARTL online transactions amongst Scottish solicitors - in part driven by the need for both parties to be using the same system. The Law Society of Scotland has set up a mandate system to allow solicitors to use an e-signature on behalf of clients for the ARTL system. The e-signatures are provided to solicitors by Registers of Scotland as the sole certification service provider. 95% of deeds that could be registered with ARTL are still lodged as physical paper writs, illustrating a low take up, but proposals are in place from the Scottish Law Commission to amend the law in this area.
Moira suggested that there was a missed opportunity by not including electronic missives in the original 2006 ARTL Order and encouraging a wider use by reducing time and cost.
Discussion took place with the audience about whether a new driver is required: to educate the new generation and promote future by the lawyers of tomorrow; or whether a stronger drive to move from electronic registration to full electronic conveyancing is needed.
Apparently Windows 7 started life as codename Vienna, and there is even a current facebook campaign to get the Ultravox song to the top of the UK singles chart by 4 April 2010. There's also coffee and cakes...
However, more importantly the Austrian capital will be hosting the imminent BILETA conference from Sunday 28 - Tuesday 31 March.
The full programme is available here, and there are a number of interesting e-learning papers with three sessions on 'E-learning Tools' and even sessions on 'Legal Issues of E-learning' and 'Future E-learning Strategies in Education'. In addtion there will be a round table session on 'E-learning at Vienna University'. A workshop on the last day will also focus on 'Multisensory Law and Legal Education' so this conference does seem to offer a wide spread of papers on education, as well as the usual papers on information and technology.
There's also a Heuriger at a local wine tavern and a reception at the Vienna City Hall as part of the conference social events. I will bring blog reports from the conference, but much reather depends on how good these two events turn out to be!
This is the 25th BILETA conference, and therefore a bit of a milestone for the organisation. Having visited a range of diverse hosts across Britain and Ireland, the organisation has ventured further afield to conferences in Amsterdam and Malta in the past.