The European Distance Education in Law Network (EDELNet – www.edelnet.eu) is a group of four European distance and open universities (Open University of the Netherlands, Open University of the UK, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia-UNED from Spain and the FernUniversität in Hagen) that collaborate since 2008 – formally under the umbrella of a Strategic Partnership since 2014 – for the internationalization of legal education through student-centred blended-learning projects and activities on all levels of the Bologna structure. For the purpose of carrying out this project, three new partners will join the group. The University of Bologna, with which some EDELNet partners have also collaborated for years in the area of research, the University of Wroclaw and the University of Miskolc will strengthen the partnership with a view to achieving the goals of this project. Overall, the partnership offers an ideal combination of four strong European distance and open universities devoted to excellence and with the largest student-bodies in Europe, on the one hand, and, on the other, three outstanding campus universities with experience in the area of blended learning. Although two partners are new to the group, the project solidly relies on a core of academics that have been collaborating for longer than a decade now in developing blended learning projects (e.g. KA203 -2015- 1-DE01-KA203-002169).
With our new collaboration we pursue five main program objectives: (1) German lecturers and their international partners have integrated digital collaboration formats into their courses and plan to integrate them into the curriculum, (2) Students and lecturers apply the digital skills acquired through virtual cooperation, (3) Processes in the areas of study, teaching and blended mobility are digitized across universities and contribute to the development of interoperable student data ecosystems (in the interest of the Groningen Declaration), (4) International digital cooperation formats are accessible to further target groups, which makes intercultural experiences possible, for example, for students who’s financial or family situation hinders physical mobility and (5) A community of practice has formed.
In concrete terms, the goals of this project are (1) the development and operation of a joint hybrid training programme in interdisciplinary legal research methods and skills for PhD students in law that is sustainable in time and (2) the enlargement and deepening of the EDELNet PhD teaching and learning community. For this purpose the project partners undertake to fulfil the following specific objectives: (1) the joint design and implementation of a combination of online and face-to-face learning and training activities for students and staff as described below; (2) the integration of these activities into their respective regular PhD training programmes as presented in this project description; and (3) the establishment of an active “community of practice” devoted to reflect upon the activities planned and provide for their improvement and further development beyond the project’s life.
The main activities and outcomes of the project comprise the joint development and implementation of: (1) an online course on doctrinal and interdisciplinary methods of legal research with a global perspective, including synchronous and asynchronous, individual and team work for students; (2) an online course on empirical legal research, including synchronous and asynchronous, individual and team work for students; (3) a hybrid intensive study programme for PhD students that offers training in legal research skills such as digital dissemination and networking, project management, public speaking and presentation techniques, intercultural communication and academic integrity and ethics; (4) a staff training in student-centred teaching and intercultural communication; and (5) a cross- European “community of practice” focused on student-centred blended training for PhD students based on the management and evaluation of this programme.
The expected impacts during project funding encompass, but are not limited to: (1) the training and networking of a group of 70-126 PhD students in law and other areas conducting their research projects in law-related subjects (economics, philosophy, political science, etc.) who will be in a better position to complete their PhD education at their respective institutions and will be exposed to international academic work and collaboration irrespective of their socio-economic, geographic or personal background; (2) the training and networking of a group of 28 scholars from different academic cultures and traditions, creating and expanding channels available for new collaborations in the field of legal education and research, including other forms of joint training and supervision of PhD students in the near future (e.g. co-supervision schemes); (3) the exchange of best practices between the participating institutions beyond the academic staff directly involved; and (4) the improvement of equal opportunity and access to the European labour market for students from across Europe.