Slight changes to our academic and extra–circular programme – we speak to the Dean
The way we work, live, travel and learn has changed significantly over the past few months. King’s Inns were quick to respond to these changes, implementing a plan not to reopen our campus to students and members until at least early 2021.
As the new academic year commences, we asked the Dean, Dr Eimear Brown, what incoming and current students can expect this term.
How will teaching take place during Michaelmas Term 2020?
King’s Inns has decided that classes on all courses up to the end of December 2020 will take place online. This decision took into account the paramount need to safeguard the health and wellbeing of students and staff while ensuring that teaching and learning can continue.
King’s Inns has invested significantly in software and training and we are confident that we can deliver our programmes online to the same high standards as usual. The decision to announce at an early stage that all teaching will be online until the end of 2020 provides incoming students with certainty that they will not be required to attend King’s Inns this term. We hope this will be of reassurance to incoming students across all courses.
Will students be attending in person from January 2021?
It’s too early for us to make a call on what will happen in January. As students will have seen, the public health restrictions arising as a result of the Covid–19 pandemic are changing constantly and often quite rapidly. It would be premature for us to make any promises just yet about how courses will be delivered from January. I can, however, reassure incoming students that we have the capacity to finish out the academic year via fully online teaching and assessment if that is necessary. We finished several courses and rounds of assessments, including on the degree of Barrister–at–Law, the Diploma in Legal Studies and Advanced Diploma courses, using online teaching and assessment at the end of the last academic year, and things went remarkably smoothly thanks to the hard work of our Course Coordinators, lecturers, tutors and administrative and IT staff. The team worked extremely hard and put in long hours to ensure that the student experience did not suffer.
What we hope people will notice is how little has changed! Although courses will be online, we are confident that the technology will soon fade into the background, allowing students to focus on the course content and high–quality teaching by our expert teams.
We plan to make a decision as to whether it is possible to resume teaching in person from January 2021 by the end of November 2020 at the latest. All students will be kept informed.
Further information on the day–to–day changes at King’s Inns during COVID–19 can be found here.
What can students expect from King’s Inns this term? What will change?
Actually, what we hope people will notice is how little has changed! Although courses will be online, we are confident that the technology will soon fade into the background, allowing students to focus on the course content and high–quality teaching by our expert teams.
Our courses will continue to be delivered by teams of subject matter experts with extensive experience of legal education. It is a key strength of King’s Inns that its courses are delivered by legal practitioners and other relevant experts. As always, our coordinators and teaching teams have been updating course materials to ensure that the information students receive is current and relevant to their needs.
To the greatest possible extent, we will replicate the usual method of delivery for each course. If a course is a lecture–based advanced diploma, lecture recordings and notes will be available weekly to participants and students can stream these recordings in their own time. Where a course is based upon live, participatory delivery (such as the degree of Barrister–at–Law course), classes will take place in small groups, live via Zoom, during timetabled sessions. The course content and learning outcomes will be the same. So, for a new student on the degree of Barrister–at–Law course, say, the good news is that the course will be of the same high quality as ever, and will allow them to learn the skills, competencies and knowledge required of any new barrister. The bad news is that the workload and standards expected of each student will also be just as high as ever! Where a course involves any element of live online delivery, we expect students to turn up to their sessions on time and fully prepared, so that they get the full benefit from the session.
Students on each course will be receiving information on their specific course and its delivery methodology via email.
How will students access their course materials?
King’s Inns uses a Virtual Learning Environment, Moodle, which serves various functions and hosts course materials and access to lecture recordings (provided it’s a course where we record lectures, such as the advanced diplomas or Diploma in Legal Studies). Moodle is an excellent one–stop shop for course materials, session plans, links to recorded sessions and access to our online legal databases. These online databases include access to a wide range of resources such as several major Irish law texts, law journals, case law and legislation.
Our Librarian Renate has recently expanded the range of resources available in order to better facilitate students who are learning remotely. She also keeps the subscriptions under continuous review. Renate will be organising additional training in the use of online resources this year, to ensure that everyone can use the online resources efficiently.
If incoming or current students need any assistance with library resources, please reach out the library team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Library at King’s Inns is beautiful. Will students be able to use it?
Yes and no. Students can avail of a “Reserve and collect” service for Library books. Library staff are also trialling a new scanning service. Students will not be able to use the Library or other rooms at King’s Inns as a study space during Michaelmas Term 2020, for health and safety reasons.
Further details about these services are available on Moodle.
The Reading Room, King’s Inns Library
King’s Inns has social media accounts on all of the main platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook) and frequently post information there, but email is the most important source of information for current students.
How will King’s Inns get in touch with students?
All incoming students will have an office.com account which includes a King’s Inns email address. We expect students to check that account regularly, at least once a day, as we will be emailing students with regular updates – not only about their course, but about events at King’s Inns and extra–curricular activities, etc. Sometimes notices are also placed on Moodle, so students should check in there also. King’s Inns has social media accounts on all of the main platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook) and frequently post information there, but email is the most important source of information for current students.
What if a student needs to get in touch with King’s Inns?
While we are keeping footfall within King’s Inns to a minimum right now, all of our staff are working harder than ever, whether it is from the office or from home. Students will still be able to reach us via email.
How will students new to King’s Inns become a part of the King’s Inns community when they won’t be in the building?
The sense of community at King’s Inns is very important to us. We hope that all students, whether they are new students or continuing students, feel that they are part of the King’s Inns community. Our alumni have always benefited from the atmosphere of collegiality at King’s Inns and have formed lifelong relationships with their classmates.
Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)
This term, we are taking a number of different steps to replicate the usual student experience and we are also organising some new events this year to help students to feel connected and to network with their classmates, including a King’s Inns Fitness Challenge 2020. That challenge will ask students and members of the King’s Inns community to form teams of 2–6 and walk, cycle or run (or travel via wheelchair) a distance of 1195km (the approximate distance by road / ferry to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg from King’s Inns) during Michaelmas Term (the first term of our academic year). We are encouraging family and friends of our community to participate also.
We are encouraging students, staff, lecturers, members and the wider alumni network to share their progress on social (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn). Twitter is our preferred social network and here is where most of the activity will take place.
Please tag @KingsInns in and use the hashtag #KITEAMSPIRIT and will share many of your posts on our networks. We might have some prizes for the teams who have the most fun competing this challenge! The challenge is about working together and journey and not about who completes the distance first!
Diane (our Member Relations Officer) and I are already building our teams to ‘compete’ against each other and have some fun in the meantime.
2019 team at the final of the International Criminal Court Moot Competition in The Hague. L–r, Coach Joe Holt BL, Hans Fischer–Kerrane, Céile Varley, Kevin Roche, Michael Lindsay, Raphael Garcia–O’Leary and coach Alex Layden BL.
Students on the Diploma in Legal Studies and degree of Barrister–at–Law course are all members of the Law Students’ Debating Society of Ireland and will be encouraged to participate in events including mooting, debating, the King’s Inns Law Review, and the usual range of extra–curricular activities (many of which will take place online this term).
We are not sure how our in–person sporting activities will play out this year. Again we will keep you updated.
Are you looking forward to the new term?
Of course! And I’ll be taking part in the fitness challenge, so if anyone is interested in taking me on, be sure to sign up! We also have a few more initiatives we are planning to launch soon for students and members to enjoy and participate in over the next academic year.
If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.