Law Society of Ireland - A Fresh Approach to Learning
A law school engages and empowers students with iPad.
Law Society of Ireland’s Law School, the country’s leading provider of solicitor training, posed the question of how to digitise and distribute course content – with a focus on modernising the learning experience. The answer was iPad.
Content for the Law School’s Professional Practice Courses (PPC) is now distributed using iTunes U on iPad. Custom Multi-Touch books and apps, along with course materials like legislation and case studies, are easily accessible online. Students use iPad and Apple TV to work collaboratively and present results in class. Paper use is minimised, easing the transition from physical to digital learning – creating a group of digital natives taking their new skills into their professional lives and beyond.
The Law Society of Ireland, based in Dublin, is a professional body for solicitors with three distinct arms – education, regulation and representation. The Education department’s Law School offers entrance training through to post-graduate certificates and professional development, focusing on educating solicitors in protecting the public interest and training for practise. “We’re looking to engender a specific degree of competence across the board,” says Director of Education T P Kennedy. This includes technology in the world of business.
Information technology has always been a priority for the Law School, but computers never seemed to measure up. “For years, we looked at investing in laptops as something we could issue to students, but we never could find a machine we were terribly happy with,” T P recalls. Then iPad came along. Compu b provided the Law School with a range of iPad mini, iPad Air and iPad with Retina display, as well as Apple TV, and set up a series of training events for the school. Now lecturers are using iBooks Author to create interactive content for iTunes U and students are using iPad to read books, take notes, study for exams, practise as trainees – and even check social media. This progressive, flexible learning environment has yielded encouraging results. “It’s worth doing to get students familiar and confident with technology. Our primary motivation was to encourage people to move with the times,” T P explains. “Even if they do use social media, it’s still bringing them into the environment. Part of our vision was to encourage students to see iPad as more than simply a learning device.”
Paul Mooney, Law Society IT Support says Compu b’s deployment went “flawlessly”. Compu b trained Paul to use and manage the school’s 800+ devices, enabling him to pass his knowledge onto students with ‘Studying with iPad’ workshops. These include tips and tricks like using Accessibility feature Voiceover as a memory reinforcement tool, as well as emphasising the importance of backing up to iCloud to protect data. In addition, Compu b deliver ongoing ‘iPad Clinics’, custom-created workshops covering general iPad basics to more advanced training.
Learning their way – on-site, online or on the move
The decision to pursue more immersive, student-centric learning is an example of the Law School’s commitment to education. Their Professional Practice Courses I and II – day and evening courses covering general legal practice, and business and ethics, respectively – were perfect pioneer vehicles; introductory courses at the beginning of students’ careers. Before iPad, teaching methods still involved traditional, passive information dissemination, as well as large volumes of collated resources. Now, the new agenda encouraged the Law School’s educators to think about delivering content in fresh ways – spurring the creation of interactive textbooks, walkthrough videos, podcasts, webcasts and more. “iPad’s greatest strengths are its portability, customisability and versatility, so we applied these principles when redesigning courses,” Course Administrator Robert Lowney says. “Because iPad is their own mobile, personal learning environment, students can take what we give them and approach it in their own flexible way, letting them progress at their own pace. Personalising their experience makes learning more meaningful and beneficial.”
Robert and Lecturer Jane Moffatt’s courses have been very successful, employing a blended learning approach that includes custom Multi-Touch books, short immersive videos and peer learning such as workshopping documents over AirPlay with iPad and Apple TV. Jane is delighted with the implications for students’ educational and professional outcomes. “We’d been trying to get them to be more engaged, and it’s been so much easier with iPad. It’s had a huge, huge impact on results. Last year we had an 80% pass rate; this year it increased to 94%. iPad has made a real difference,” says Jane. “It supports student learning in so many ways,” Robert adds. “I remember during PPC II, I’d walk around the building and see students in classrooms helping each other study, using iPad and Apple TV to collaborate and exhibit their work… It’s really helped peer learning, and facilitated group learning as well – something we’d never really seen in an evening course before.”
Students are clearly enjoying iPad’s benefits on learning. Previously, reviewing lectures was always difficult as recorded courses didn’t exist. Now, the use of multimedia, particularly video, makes accessing and re-accessing content a breeze. The addition of free apps like Pages, Numbers and Keynote, as well as Mail, Calendar and Notes, has also been a distinct advantage. “I really like Pages and Mail – they’re handy as you’re constantly on your iPad. Communicating is a lot easier and more convenient now,” says trainee solicitor Michelle Dunne. Michelle also values the practical business applications iPad has on hands-on training. “I’m in a small firm and my bosses use iPad all the time. It’s good to be able to keep up with them,” she says.
Compu b’s complete solution
The Law School’s initial goal was to simplify learning by digitising materials for distribution. “We give students a huge library of course materials, extracts from legislation, cases, precedents and so on. That’s all been migrated onto iPad. It’s far better to have digital content than force someone to print a 35-page piece of legislation,” says T P. However, this would also require a content management system. The Law School quickly realised that an ecosystem like Apple’s, with its stable platforms and system continuity, could allow them to do more than just house PDFs. Between iTunes U and iTunes U Course Manager, iBooks Author and Multi-Touch books, and iBooks and the App Store’s comprehensive Education categories, iPad soon became the obvious choice. “We thought, ‘If we’re going to do this with iPad, what can we do to take full advantage of the device?’” T P recalls. What they did was get in touch with Compu b.
With such a large-scale rollout of iPad mini, iPad Air and iPad with Retina display, training was Compu b’s key focus. Compu b’s Aoife and Gareth arrived on-site for each deployment, running iPad training for the Law School’s student induction days. Gareth led iTunes U and iBooks Author sessions to both introduce and refresh lecturers on how to create, manage and publish engaging content. In conjunction with the Law School’s IT department, Compu b developed their iPad Clinics, covering topics like ‘iPad Productivity’, ‘Using iPad in Practice’ and ‘Advanced iPad – Evernote’ for students. And Aoife was available for any sales enquiries the school would have.
The Law School has praised Compu b’s dedicated, wide-ranging services. Paul and the IT department were particularly happy with the smoothness of the deployment. “The implementation was brilliant. Everything went perfectly,” Paul says. “There’s clearly a lot to be said for an established business relationship,” T P continues. “One major factor has been the iPad Clinics, and the fact that Compu b are able to deploy such good trainers.” says T P. “It’s a very easy, very efficient working relationship.”
Here at Compu b, we strive to deliver custom, integrated solutions that cover everything from pre-sales and post-sales advice to product deployment, training and support. Helping education institutions transform their teaching and learning environments is one of the most important things we do. Our Education team is passionate about inspiring the next generation of innovators, and with tools like iPad, getting them to think creatively is easy.
Writer: Amy Black