Applications for the internet of public legal education

In this article, Lois Gander from the University of Alberta in Canada argues that the internet, by removing barriers between the public and the law, is one of the most significant forces of change in the approach to public legal education.

Read the article: Applications for the internet of public legal education (320 KB)

Writing in 2002, Ms Gander calls into question some core beliefs about PLE's place in the legal world and argues that that the needs and interests of legal professionals and the public needed to be rethought.

The paper illustrated how the internet has provided people with greater access to more information than any education system could hope to facilitate. It has also created a shift towards learner control over knowledge acquisition. People are now able to decide what they want to learn, when and how why want to learn it, who they want to learn it from, and with whom they want to share their learning experience with. The internet has created a surge in informal learning - activities outside of educational institutions.

The paper also serves as a useful resource covering most of the current and potential applications of the internet for PLE.

The following year, in 'The Changing Face of Public Legal Education in Canada' Ms Gander wrote about the implications of creating of a digital divide.

'Access to computers, competency in using them, literacy, English language proficiency, and a host of other barriers provide real limits to who will be able to benefit directly from electronically provided PLE.'

On the other hand, she points out that the internet does provide direct access for people who experience difficulty in accessing conventional resources by virtue of being physically disabled or geographically isolated.

Read: Changing face of public legal education in Canada (1.0 MB)

The Changing Face of Public Legal Education in Canada' published in 2003 in 'News and Views on Civil Justice Reform' published by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice.