Omar Ha-Redeye’s post about e-learning earlier this week prompts me to disclose a possible Law Commission of Ontario e-learning course, in conjunction with Ontario law schools. The LCO is in the process of renewal and one on-going issue is the relationship with the Ontario law schools, especially those schools other than Osgoode (which provides funding – including funding from York University – and inkind contributions to the LCO). Obviously, one manifestation of the relationship is in contracting researchers from the law faculties, in the appropriate case, (improvements in which are also under consideration), but another suggestion, from Western Law’s Dean, Ian Holloway, is to develop an on-line course in law reform.
When the LCO was created, Osgoode and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law also created courses in law reform; none of the other schools took up the suggestion to institute their own courses. It’s also been open to the law schools to have their students write independent research papers, with a faculty supervisor, in collaboration with the LCO and the University of Toronto’s Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights has collaborated with us in placing a student with us who has prepared a research paper in the vulnerable workers project and who is now doing an independent paper on a different issue for the same project. (We also hire students from the various schools in the summer and over the academic year.)
The new suggestion is to offer the course on-line so that students from all the law schools could enroll. It could be housed in one of the schools or rotated around or in a more innovative way offered by the LCO and integrated into the schools’ curricula. Faculty from any of the schools could teach it, guests from commissions elsewhere in the world could be guests, and the LCO could be involved in teaching and otherwise. I have taught the course at Osgoode, for example.
The Osgoode and U of T courses are linked to the LCO. Students learn about different kinds of law reform activities and different kinds of law reform commissions, relations with government and other issues, but their assignment has been to prepare “proposals” for law reform for the LCO (although they involve far more legal research than the real proposals normally do). Some students have been selected to present their proposals to the LCO Board of Governors. Of course, the content of the distance course is open to discussion.
Discussion with the law schools about establishing an e-course is on the LCO’s agenda as one of the new aspects of our next mandate (assuming we have a next mandate!).