find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Adelaide CBD · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
Freelance Project Finance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Australia
· Vario are looking for freelance lawyers with experience in project finance ideally within the renewable energy sector
View details
Vario Freelance Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Australia
· We are looking for lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Freelance Construction Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· We are looking for construction lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
View details
Virtual tutorials take flight at QUT

Virtual tutorials take flight at QUT

CONTRACT LAW lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Des Butler has his students playing computer games, learning valuable real-life negotiation skills in an online world of his own…

CONTRACT LAW lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Des Butler has his students playing computer games, learning valuable real-life negotiation skills in an online world of his own creation.

Law firms have long lamented that the nation’s top graduates are lacking real-life skills and experience, so it seems ironic that the latest solution to age-old dilemma of theory versus practice is a virtual one.

Air Gondwana is a skills tutorial focusing on the running of a fictional airline. Just as in players in Second Life engage in bartering with other players, in Air Gondwana students negotiate airline contracts with staff and suppliers run a successful tourist resort. The transactional focus of Second Life makes it well suited for legal education, Butler explained.

Second Life is more about transactions between people, rather than [players] scoring points or going on quests. It can be used in education certainly from a law perspective in at least two ways.

“You can actually get the student and lecturer to go in and have your virtual personas interact ‘in world’ as it’s called. Or you can actually record video of what the virtual characters are doing and then you can show the video and that’s the use I’m putting it to.”

Butler’s cost-effective production technique of filming his characters in Second Life has been developed through many years of trial and error. Butler has been working on computer-based learning tools for more than 18 years.

In the past, the cost and complexity of online programming have hindered his projects. Now, building upon the university’s online Blackboard interface, he has been able to harness the power of the internet, university hyperlinks and statistics with the creative functions of Second Life to create a virtual playground for educational institutions.

After watching an instructional video acted by real people, students take the helm to navigate their way through four units of negotiation with an airline in the virtual world.

“So what we’re doing is replacing the more traditional method of giving a lecture, having some prep materials and then just doing role materials, with a better opportunity for a proper training experience …” said Butler. “They get the opportunity to break down the principals and to apply them in a range of situations.”

Feedback from students involved in the initial trial has been positive. Completion of Air Gondwana is a mandatory part of the first year QUT contracts course. While students typically leave such assessment requirements to the end of semester, a large number of students had completed the program within the first two weeks of classes, he said.

“I think by the end of a month, a quarter of the class had done it, so it was very enthusiastically received. I’ve had a number of emails and anecdotally word of mouth is that they’re finding it a much more engaging and effective learning experience for them,” said Butler.

The program may also have a commercial application, with potential for it to be used in law firms to train staff in the key practical skill areas they may not have learnt at university.

“No doubt [there’s a commercial application]. There are generations of lawyers that didn’t have the opportunity of going through [contemporary] law schools [with their] greater focus on not just the content but also the skills — and [those lawyers] may benefit going through these sorts of skills programs.”

The sky isn’t limited to virtual airlines or lawyers either, according to Butler; “It’s really something that is adaptable to any other disciplines that involve negotiation.”

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Virtual tutorials take flight at QUT
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Jan 23 2018
Disrupting traditional archiving and storage methods
Promoted by Fileman TRENDS COME and go but technology and its disruption to the legal landscape h...
Scales of Justice
Jan 23 2018
WA to close ‘legal loophole’ on gender reassignment laws
Laws in Western Australia will soon change to permit married people to undergo gender reassignment s...
Lawyers take to Twitter to share career stories
Jan 22 2018
Lawyers take to Twitter to share career stories
The #mypathtolaw hashtag has been embraced by legal eagles to swap stories with the Twitter communit...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...