The development of the virtual educational space: how transactional online teaching can prepare today's law graduates for today's virtual age
Professional legal education, like many aspects of our lives, is now under increased pressure to move into the virtual spaces afforded by digital technologies. The rising popularity of social media platforms such as Instagram, service-type apps such as Passport, dating and social networking apps such as Tinder and the growth in and ease of access to online education through platforms such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) all highlight the increasingly pervasive nature of the Internet in many aspects of our lives. The ascent of the Internet is also reflected in the changing characteristics and demographics of our student cohorts and the changing legal environment – for example the prevalence of offshore outsourcing, more sophisticated clients, increasingly egalitarian access to legal information and virtual law firms
Such spaces, when used for teaching and professional development, have profound implications for the nature and character of that teaching and development. In this article we argue that specific factors in Australia, such as geography (which limits physical access to professional legal education), the history and cultures of legal education programmes, and recent changes in the regulatory frameworks for legal education, require law graduates to be equipped with more than the legal knowledge and skills that are currently required for admission to practice. With reference to digital educational theory, we analyse one instance of a program where transactional learning deepens and enhances students’ professionalism. We then investigate the consequences of programs such as this for the design of regulatory regimes in legal education.
Keywords: Professional legal education; technology; digital education; regulation; experiential learning