Court Education and COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has, like its effect on courts, had a seismic impact on court education programs globally. You can read about the Australian response in our previous blog post on Court Observations during COVID-19. This post is part of series that will examine some of the learnings gained during the conduct of the Virtual Churchill Fellowship.
Impact of COVID-19 on Court Education
Globally, courts and organisations conducting court education programs, have had to make substantial alterations to their program delivery to accommodate the impact of the COVID-19. Specifically the public health orders requiring physical distancing and shelter in place (lockdown) requirements. Courts instituted a variety of strategies in response to the pandemic including; restricting physical appearances by lawyers and their clients and running all hearings using online video conferencing.
Most countries in Europe and North America have had multiple periods of lockdown that has resulted in school and university education being delivered online. This has been very challenging. Court education providers have had to adapt or delay their in person experiential learning programs. Pivoting to online delivery due to the closure of court buildings to members of the public. Some providers have been able to have students access online court hearings. Courts have used YouTube to broadcast judgements, hearings and ceremonial events. Most have utilised a variety a video conferencing platforms to deliver modified versions of their education programs.
Opportunity for Positive Change
Whilst the negative impact of COVID-19 on court education programs has been substantial, many organisations reported that it has allowed for accelerated change and development of new strategies of program delivery. By delivering programs online organisations have been able to reach students in rural and remote parts of their regions or countries. In addition teachers have been able to access programs for students home-schooling due to the closure of schools. This has supported teachers in delivering curriculum content whilst trying to adapt to the impact of constantly changing public health orders on schools.
Online Delivery of Court Education Programs
The list of international court education providers below will be added to throughout the Virtual Churchill research period.
- Justice for All: Court and the Community and Fordham University School of Law run a large Moot Competition for school students in New York City public schools. The 2020 competition has been entirely conducted by video conferencing.
- The Supreme Court of United Kingdom has improved access to their justices by making available You Tube videos in which the Justices summarise recent decisions.
- iCivics has utilised their online learning platform to actively support teachers and parents homeschooling their children. The combination of games, lesson plans and the more traditional worksheet resources have made a substantial positive contribution to the teaching of civics during the pandemic. The coalition of CivXNow which includes iCivics have used social media to reach out and actively support teachers with the #sschat on Twitter.
- The National Justice Museum, based in Nottingham in the UK and the Royal Courts of Justice in London have developed an online court education program to complement their other online programs. The ‘Court Out’ program allows students to access a variety of different case studies and is curriculum aligned.
- Discovering Justice has developed mini mock trial lessons for Grade 1-5 school students and made them available online for teachers to utilise in a classroom or online setting.