Teaching Mediation through Video and Peer Discussion

Legal education in Australia increasingly acknowledges the need to teach about technology and law schools have included elective and core curriculum dealing with such issues (Judy Gutman and M Riddle, ‘ADR in Legal Education: Learning by Doing’ (2012) 23 Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal194; Kathy Douglas, Josephine Lang and Meg Colasante, ‘The Challenges of Blended Learning Using a Media Annotation Tool’ (2014) 11(2) Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice 1, 3-4). There are now subjects that provide the opportunity to build computer apps (applications) to solve legal problems and core courses include information on issues such as smart contracts and blockchain. For example, FineFixer, an application devised to help the public implement strategies to deal with fines, was initially developed by RMIT University students in an elective course and was later made available through the Moonee Valley Legal Service, funded by a grant from the Victoria Law Foundation.  Higher education is evolving with faculty increasingly engaged ‘with options and technologies, including collaboration tools, video and media’ where video, as a visualisation media, taps into ‘the brain’s inherent ability to rapidly process visual information, identify patterns, and sense order in complex situations.’ (New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE, NMC Horizon Report: 2018 Higher Education Edition (2018) 11 March 2019, 35)  ADR teaching also needs to adopt the latest technology in teaching about areas such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration and collaborative law.

Teachers of mediation have often relied on videos to demonstrate mediation skills to prepare for role-plays. However, merely watching a video may not be as effective as also engaging with peers. The watching of video, combined with a subsequent online discussion of mediation skills, can enhance student learning as students become active rather than passive learners. After watching videos and discussing the legal skills online, students can later be asked to demonstrate these skills in role plays. Our article in the latest edition of the Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal discusses an example of the use of video and online discussion to scaffold learning about mediation (Kathy Douglas, Tina Popa and Christina Platz, ‘Teaching Mediation Using Video and Peer Discussion: An Engaged Video Learning Model’ (2019) 29(3) Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal 182). Students watch a video of a mediation, discuss the mediator interventions online and then undertake role plays at an intensive weekend seminar. The scaffolding of student learning through watching the video and subsequent online discussion prepares students to demonstrate the mediation skills. The article concludes with a model of ADR learning with video that serves as a useful guide to implementing active video learning activities. This model can be used to make further videos such as specific contexts of mediation that is family, workplace or community mediations. The model could be used to develop videos on other ADR options such as conciliation, arbitration and collaborative law. We hope this model might assist the ADR community to use technology effectively in their teaching of ADR skills and theory.

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[pixabay, free image, mohamed_hassan]

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