A Pyrrhic Victory for Profession Development: A Critical Reflection Upon 2020’s Rapid and Obligatory Transition to Remote Delivery

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In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced law schools to rapidly transition to remote delivery of their programs and to place a greater emphasis upon technology-enhanced learning. Those legal academics who were unfamiliar with (and even resistant to) this method of delivery were obliged to very quickly develop their digital skills to facilitate this transition. The overall success of the transition is still unclear: while most law schools managed to continue to deliver their programs during the pandemic, student feedback about the quality of the remote delivery was mixed. Nevertheless, the emphasis upon remote delivery and technology-enhanced learning is likely to continue and even increase in the coming years. In this paper I interrogate the assumption that the rapid and obligatory transition to remote delivery that took place as a result of the pandemic will form a stable basis for further development of digital skills by legal academics. Drawing upon the notion of academic resistance as well as the well-known distinctions between surface and deep approaches to learning and intrinsic and extrinsic student motivation, it is argued that the impact of the rapid and obligatory transition to remote delivery upon academic motivation, morale, freedom and identity outweighs the benefits, and exposes law schools to the risk that, without mindful intervention, the quality of technology-enhanced learning will in future be lower than optimal.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2021
EventLegal Education Research Conference 2021: Pedagogies of the Pandemic - Online, Australia
Duration: 26 Nov 202127 Nov 2021


ConferenceLegal Education Research Conference 2021
OtherThe theme of our 2021 meeting is Pedagogies of the Pandemic. We mean this theme broadly and at least in two basic senses. First, we are interested in discussions of what law pedagogy looks like under conditions of COVID-19. How does one take a course of study most often focused on in-class discussion and debate and conduct it virtually? What has worked and not worked in particular law subjects? And why and how?

Second, in addition to what and how we have had to teach under the pandemic, we encourage reflections about what the pandemic has taught us – what have we learnt about the institutions and intellectual life of the law school, nationally and globally? What have we learnt about our discipline and the way we teach and transmit its knowledge? Is the pandemic a ‘teachable moment?’ If so, what kind of a moment is it?

Perhaps fittingly with the pandemic situation and in light of ongoing travel restrictions, we will hold this conference as an online event.
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