‘That document that you have with you is the Course Outline. In it, are the list of all the books, cases, articles, journals and legal writings (all which summed up to about 200 sources). If you read all the materials in the outline, you will get a B. if you read half or anything above but not the entire composition of the list; you will get a grade C. If you read anything below half the list, you will get a D. Anything below that is unacceptable,’
Prof. P.L.O Lumumba
I later went on to score a B in the class.
To me, and to most legal scholars and students, that is the essence of the study of law. It is this branch or learning in the process of being a learned friend of reading countless books, cramming the constitution cover to cover and knowing all case laws in the Case Laws data base in Kenya and its environs. Back then, I had this ideal idea of who an accomplished lawyer should be. I would picture the lawyer as this guy who walks like the Good Professor. When he gets accustomed by any legal issue, he pauses, looks into the eye and spills all the legal paraphernalia till the earth of a problem shakes. I would look at past papers and see that one is asked to advice a client, and it would beat my mind as to how to advice them. Were these real time cases by the lecturer which they only wanted us to employ our brains to solve? Was this a drill? Or was it real?
Oh well, all these are questioned that I will subsequently answer in the days to come. Suffice to say, any law student would comfortably answer that now.
Fast forward, it’s the September of 2014. Kabarak University is rolling out the e-learning platform for online studies. Shock; it will accommodate law students! Well, to start with, this will be a completely new phase and turn of the legal study in Kenya and probably Sub-Saharan Africa! I mean, go tell a professor that you have just graduated with a degree of law from online learning and see the expression on their face.
You see, many times and for long enough a time as lawyers we have always had the conviction in the books and the weight in them- physically. Always believed that the only and one true definition of reading is through a book and pen- literally. But then, here for once, comes Blackboard… and it comes bearing gifts. For us- Learned Friends- is that we get to DO this first hand. We get to be the ones to say, ‘It actually works!’
To begin with, we may employ this one new word that I have learnt in my interactions with the Team on E-learning- Blended Learning. Here, one employs both the use of online learning as well as actual classroom learning together. It is a good way to begin and test the waters.
In its full success, for us law students, it will mean that we will be able to have lectures with and from lecturers or international renowned repute in and out of Kenya. Think of that day when you will have a real face to face interface and lesson with Prof. Lon Fuller. You would be able to question Malcom Shaw on his theories of International law. Think of the possibility of having Snell mock you for not reading page 1450 of his Tort book. What if you were able to do your assignments online? Sorry, scrap that, what if you were able to do your CAT online while traveling to Mombasa instead of being in a class? Oh no, you won’t be able to copy or Google while at that! How about when you fill that TRUE/FALSE thing by a touch of the button? The days when you don’t have to worry of getting to class late… when it matters not how good your handwriting is! That day, Friends, when you loss of the blue ball pen counts for nothing.
Friends, the possibilities are limitless. The horizons undefined. The sky no longer the aim… but just where the foot prints lie. Why? Because this is blackboard! Because the full package of Blackboard is descending down on our heaven down there on our red-roofed law school.
No, seriously think about it: legal studies in a biblical perspective, in an online platform.
By. Frank Cheluget