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Radboud University – Law in Action

Learning by doing


Radboud University uses gamification to keep students motivated with Brightspace

At a glance

Client: Radboud University – Law in Action
Learners: 20,000+
Industry: Higher Education
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Platform/Features

  • D2L’s Brightspace platform
  • ePortfolio
  • Quizzes
  • Student awards

Interviewees

  • Simon Tans, Assistant Professor, International and European Law
  • Irene Larooy, Study Advisor

Highlights

  • Provides a custom learning pathway for each student, giving them insight into their progress and control over their personal development
  • Creates simulated court-room style scenarios within seminars where students can put their knowledge into practice
  • Teaches valuable soft skills and co-operation which students will need in the workplace
Radboud University – Law in Action Logo

Institution

The Law Faculty at Radboud University is exploring new ways to keep students engaged, using quizzes and student awards in its instance of the Brightspace learning management system to create custom learning pathways that place the emphasis on personal development and soft skills, not just demonstrating knowledge.

"[ePortfolio is] an approach that makes the students curious and that’s what we want to achieve. It’s also about co-operation and learning soft skills. Students hand in papers and can earn awards that they receive through Brightspace."

Irene Larooy, Study Advisor, Radboud University

Challenge

Teaching communication and critical thinking

Radboud University in the Netherlands offers a range of bachelor’s and master’s degrees to its 20,000+ students. As a student-oriented university, when the contract for its learning management system (LMS) was set to expire, Radboud assessed the needs of users before embarking on a tendering process.

D2L’s Brightspace was the outright winner of the tender. By February 2018, the university had put pilot use-cases for the system in place, and its lecturers completed their training on the platform in May of the same year. By September 2019, the implementation was complete and over 20,000 students and 5,000 lecturers were using Brightspace.

One faculty that has excelled in its innovative use of the platform is Radboud’s Faculty of Law. The university’s ‘Law in Action’ course makes use of the ePortfolio tool within Brightspace and awards functionality to support continuous assessment. Students can demonstrate the skills they have gained throughout the course and receive feedback on the work they submit which helps them reflect on their own progress.

They complete assignments in a range of formats, including presentations that are critiqued by peers as well as their tutors. As a result, they develop soft skills such as communication and critical thinking, which complement the professional capabilities they need for their future law career.

Radboud University exterior campus

Solution

Brightspace in action

Simon Tans, Assistant Professor, International and European Law, and Irene Larooy, Study Advisor, explain that through Brightspace, ‘Law in Action’ shifts the focus away from the traditional demonstration of knowledge and towards demonstrating mastery. The course places an emphasis on personal development and reflection, rather than reproducing knowledge.

Students upload assignments to their personal ePortfolios in the platform and when they have passed a module, they receive an award. There are 20 awards in total, which together cover a range of soft skills that students need to build, such as presentation skills and conflict mediation, as well as technical knowledge around substantive law.

For example, one award focuses on the description of a breakthrough in a juridical case. Students are able to practice their skills and reflect on their learning as they build up their ePortfolio. The ePortfolio provides an ongoing record of the student’s achievements, while the continuous pursuit of awards motivates them to progress.

“It’s an approach that makes the students curious and that’s what we want to achieve. It’s also about co-operation and learning soft skills. Students hand in papers and can earn awards that they receive through Brightspace.” – Irene Larooy, Study Advisor, Radboud University

The Brightspace platform also provides a convenient way for students to share documents, receive feedback and see how they are progressing. Simon Tans adds: “Our original idea was to have them interact, so if one party sends a juridical document then other parties can respond to it and perhaps exploit faults in the arguments—thus simulating reality. The added value of Brightspace is that students can submit their documents on a Saturday if it suits them. You’re no longer confined to everyone working at the same time.

“We also use a lot of quizzes and questionnaires. When students answer the questions, they get an email from us saying how they scored. That way, we can have various scenarios play out.”

"…so if one party sends a juridical document then other parties can respond to it and perhaps exploit faults in the arguments—thus simulating reality. The added value of Brightspace is that students can submit their documents on a Saturday if it suits them. You’re no longer confined to everyone working at the same time.”"

Simon Tans, Assistant Professor, International and European Law, Radboud University

Results

Personal learning journeys for successful outcomes

Through the ePortfolio tool and awards functionality in Brightspace, ‘Law in Action’ supports students on their learning pathways, giving them insight into their own progress and control over their personal development. For tutors, it’s a convenient way to monitor students’ progress and keep them on track to achieve the desired learning outcomes, because each award is created around a sub-goal of the learning objectives.

Students’ focus is maintained throughout the learning journey as they continually strive to meet the criteria for awards, instead of focusing only on a traditional, final assessment.

The adoption of Brightspace has been so successful that the university is working on templates to facilitate the creation of future courses. It is also committed to knowledge-sharing across the faculty to get the most out of the platform.

“Staff are really interested in the work that’s been going on,” says Irene Larooy. “They’re even holding lunch meetings to share best practices.”

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