Vol 11, Issue 3
Last September, after a long and drawn out debate between members of the faculty and the student body, it was decided by the powers-that-be that the law school would continue to not make lecture recordings available for all students.
In an email sent to all JD students (annexed here), MLS’ Dean Carolyn Evans set out the law school’s reasoning for opting out of the school’s lecture capture by-default policy, unlike other UniMelb faculties – who record lectures and make them available to all students via the LMS.
It was asserted that such a change would lead to a reduction in students attending class; that the seminar style teaching that faculty were encouraged to adopt wasn’t conducive to being recorded; that it might inhibit the free exchange of views; that employers had expressed support for the current policy; and that re-listening to lecture recordings was not ‘an effective or useful way to engage in revision’.
The last mentioned reason was the subject of a satirical (but nonetheless poignant) article by Scott Colvin; whilst Katy Hampson penned an emotive piece deploring the law school’s apparent indifference to the learning needs of students suffering from disabilities.
Fortunately, the law school appeared to have accepted the veracity of criticisms of those such as Hampson and the Later Law Students Network, announcing via email dated 7 March 2017 that:
‘class recordings will be made available to students who can clearly demonstrate the following:
What follows is a perspective that has not been accommodated for in the vociferous debates about this issue.
And that it is the perspective of a student that already records lectures, regularly makes those lectures available to students who need them, and encourages others to do the same.
That’s right – the perspective of the surreptitious lecture recorder (or SLR for short).
I sit myself in the first or second row – possibly right next to you. I hit record on my smart phone, and I don’t turn it off until the faculty member signals that the class has ended. Some teachers have seen me do it; a minority have expressly consented; none have told me to stop.
I have done this for every single class since my second semester at MLS. I listen to some or all those recordings over SWOTVAC to get a more complete understanding of the subject materials and the expectations come exam day. Sometimes I listen to the same section of a recording a couple times – especially when we go through problem questions.
I record because law school is hard, and adequately preparing for – much less participating in – class is near impossible during some parts of semester. That time we got a cumulative 450 pages of readings the same week of the Property interim exam? Yeah get real– no one came prepared to any of the classes that week, and no one understood a single minute of the Property lecture in real time. I on the other hand found it quite illuminating upon a second listen two weeks before the exam – maybe that’s why I dominated the subject?
I’ll tell you now; I’m representative of a much larger cohort of students than the faculty probably care to admit. For every student that’s been called out and shamed in front of their compatriots for recording, there’s a good six others doing the same thing with more stealth.
And you know what? As long as we’re using those recordings for our own learning benefit; and only copying those files to likeminded peers, I really don’t see any problems.
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