Hart, Tina, Fellowes, Melanie and Jabbar, Abdul (2012) Digital Literacies – The challenges for a modern Law School. In: Pelecon 2012 (Plymouth e-learning conference), 18 April - 20th April 2012, Plymouth, UK. (Submitted)

The Huddersfield University Law School offers a range of distance and flexible learning courses. These courses are delivered on line through a virtual learning environment. The desire to widen participation was the original rationale for delivering courses in this way. The programmes were therefore primarily designed for those students who could not attend face to face sessions such as; overseas students who would find the cost of travelling to the UK prohibitive, students with family and/ or employment commitments and students with disabilities. The perceived changing student market and the recognition that more and more students will need to balance their study with other commitments has joined widening participation as an objective. It is vital that learning designs take account of a generation already used to technology in their learning and social life.

This kind of provision leads to its own challenges for staff and students. It requires detailed planning on pedagogy to ensure that it is appropriate for the online environment. In addition for many staff the development of this type of pedagogy requires training in software that they were not overtly familiar with, as well as the development of additional “online” moderation skills to supplement their “offline” teaching skills.

Whilst new courses should make full use of digital literacies, designers should appreciate the needs of mature students returning to studies. Such students will be faced with new methods of teaching and learning. Becoming proficient with the technology will be a challenge. This can be minimised by the implementation of e-learning bridging courses that are specifically designed to help students familiarise themselves with the technology before the commencement of the course.

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