Communication: Day 2 of the #BYOD4L MOOC


Most of today was spent in court, not as an accused, but I was sitting in court today rather than teaching law or researching law, or doing admin for the university. Whilst the legal profession haw generally embraced new modes of communication, the court itself is still rather traditional and today provided several examples: recorded delivery, police service, executed warrants, oral evidence, productions and labels (documents and items of evidence), lots of face to face discussion and huge piles of papers. That said, communication was efficient and we dealt with a good deal of business today.

The backchannel (the emails, twitter, Facebook and all that), however, was definitely not up and running for me. The building itself seems to be lead-lined and impervious to any 3G, phone reception or newfangled ways of communications. Even the windows are high up and feature blinds so that the outside world is no distraction to the dispensation of justice. Only recently have the court services and the judiciary had to contemplate whether to allow tweeting and live-text-messaging from the court regarding whatever cases were being heard. I gave evidence to The Judicial Office for England and Wales on this topic in 2011, and I have until Friday to respond to the Scottish equivalent body regarding TV cameras, photographers and live communications in our courts (see: Judiciary Scotland for details).

I digress. The aside detailed above is the reason I grabbed a pen, piece of paper and a couple of post-it notes at lunchtime to complete my task for today’s MOOC topic – mind mapping the ways in which I communicate.


After a cursory glance, it’s not all techie, online apps and tools; but they do predominate (in quantity, not quality) in most spheres. Taking the student body first, I think I tend to focus on one main channel of communication which is through the VLE. It’s there, they expect it, it can be further disseminated by email, it can be picked up by everyone including colleagues co-teaching on the module and the stray student(s) missing the face to face announcements in class. There are no other apps or tools listed there on my map, so I don’t use twitter for communicating to students (it gets used and mentioned in class, but not as a comms tool), and the blogs, wikis etc are all built into Blackboard with various plugins etc that I’m happy to use, for now.

My departmental colleagues and co-workers in the same academic institution are generally a close-knit bunch and so face to face communication and conversations by email predominate. We are a small group and largely based on the same corridor so that works, but previously I have worked remotely for an organisation with a significant number of disparate based all around the UK. Email wasn’t enough, or things got mixed up, and so Yammer was a great tool that a colleague recommended and the organisation adopted.

Colleagues outwith the university get more of the online, techie and exciting modes of communication – but mainly because I don’t see these people that much! This is the only place where twitter features (I don’t tweet much personal stuff at all), but I do blur the lines with Facebook to a slight degree with colleagues who are also friends. I also find Fb groups such as this one for BYOD4L useful to keep up with developments and as far as I know, those in the group don’t see my friends and family tagged posts unless they are added as friends.

The telephone doesn’t feature either, at work. To be honest, it rarely rings and I rarely dial out! Colleagues might not be working in their offices, or they may be teaching, and mostly I can email or knock on the door as I pass. I do appreciate getting my voicemails from work through the email system, especially when working from home or travelling, but then the problem can be that you’re never off duty or away from your virtual desk.

I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s live #BYOD4Lchat twitter session, but I’m giving it a miss today as my communication skills are a little worn out. I also fancy the evening off!

About Michael Bromby
Lecturer in Law at Truman Bodden Law School

3 Responses to Communication: Day 2 of the #BYOD4L MOOC

  1. Kay Hack says:

    have you seen @daveowhite and @alisonlecornu work with challenges of residency? a mapping tool you can use w/ students to help them reflect on the tools they use and in what context.

    • Thanks Catherine, I know Alison really well as we worked together at the HEA for a couple of years. I struggle to know my role/place in facilitating students to reflect on their tools and usage – should this be a module thing, a programme thing, an extra curricular thing? A law degree is full enough to the point where I question what should go where, and who’s job is it? I don’t mean that in a negative way, but just a bee in my bonnet!

      • amiddlet50 says:

        This in Michael is one of my too. My take on it is about whether institutions be running “iPad projects”, giving students smart tech as an induction “prize” for registering (and paying their fees), etc, or whether each of us comes to this by our own volition, in turn, as we see the personal benefits? This organic inevitability is my position in the main, but as academics and institutions we have a duty to be digitally literate and open to new ways of working.

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