A Digital Repository for #legaled Conferences?

figsharekgtizedIn an earlier post, I described using Twitter and Storify as a digital repository for events. I am especially thinking about the lack of a repository for legal education conferences in Australia.

Paul Maharg commented on this after the 2013 Australasian Law Teachers Association (ALTA) annual conference at ANU:

What happens to all the presentations after the event?  I didn’t see any process to capture slides & papers and organise this on the ALTA site.  As I argued in my keynote the archiving of papers, presentations, projects and much else is essential to the memory of the discipline, in which regulators should be taking a leading role; but until that happens, professional bodies such as ALTA need to do that for the academic profession, and a good place to start would be with the annual conference.

I agree. As someone researching practical legal training practitioners’ engagement with scholarship of teaching and learning, I have encountered huge gaps in archived material for professional legal education in Australia. There seems to be no central repository for materials presented at the Australasian Professional Legal Education Council (APLEC) annual conferences either.  A key concept in scholarship of teaching and learning is sharing work, to extend knowledge, and for critical scrutiny. I contend a good repository will further this work.

It is true that some (not all) conference papers become available through publication in scholarly journals, in time. Some presenters take time to share presentations via their personal blogs, or on sites such as Academic.edu, ResearchGate, and SSRN. There seems to be no centralised “event” repository, however.

Further, it is possible to conceptualise legal education scholarship as a ‘multi-dimensional’ body of activities (Trigwell et al, 2000). Those dimensions include “information”, “reflection”, “communication”, and the “conceptual”. Publication in scholarly journals is a fragment within those dimensions. In the context of social media in legal education, we see new modes of communication, new ways of working with information, and new platforms for reflection in action. All of which further problematise ways we conceptualise teaching and learning.

So a centralised event repository should ideally have the capacity to encompass all of these, be robust, and be easy to set up and use.

I think there are many possible solutions, but here I will suggest one example. Over the last few days I have trialled figshare.  It took just a few minutes to set up the account. It takes longer to upload the materials, but figshare supply a desktop uploader, which allows  batched uploads.

Uploaded materials can be classified, eg, “presentation”, “paper”, “dataset”, etc. Each item can be tagged, eg, “online forums”, “community of inquiry”, “professional responsibility”, to produce metadata. Best of all, each item is given a digital object identifier (DOI), which means it is easy to cite, and to track using altmetrics. It would be possible to include datasets and data visualisations from social media outputs connected to the event.

This seems to me to be a simple durable way to set up a digital repository for legal education conferences and other events. It seems that figshare contemplates the use of institutional accounts for data management, data dissemination, and reporting. Perhaps each conference could have its own repository, or perhaps organisations such as ALTA and APLEC could set up institutional accounts? I’ve used figshare as an example, but there might be other appropriate resources.

To have a durable, searchable, trackable, centralised, taggable, digital repository for all dimensions of legal education scholarship would be an excellent resource.

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About kristoffergreaves

Professional practice research and education. PhD and Australian lawyer. Legal education and practical legal training curricula and pedagogies.
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