STAR CASE STUDY: Using Facebook to Facilitate International Debate

Dr Bronwen Jones uses Facebook to allow Newcastle University Law School students to debate legal issues with students at Helwan University in Eygpt.

The winning students from Helwan University in Eygpt.

The debate functions as part of Bronwen’s teaching on intellectual property law for undergraduate students.

The collaboration came about after Bronwen met with Professor Yasser Gadallah whilst at a series of workshops in Cairo. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when Dr  Shaimaa Lazem moved to Newcastle to begin working with Culture Lab.

Shaimaa set up a closed Facebook group which would bring together one group of student from each institution to discuss intellectual property law.

Bronwen said: ‘In part I wanted to do something to show that you could have international collaboration without winning a big grant or spending money.

‘But I also wanted to facilitate a cultural exchange. I wanted my students to think more critically about the ways in which intellectual property law can advantage or disadvantage people from certain countries or cultures.’

Each group was given one week to prepare material, write an argument and post it on Facebook.

This written response helped to ensure that the Eygptian students were not disadvantaged by conducting a verbal debate in English.

Bronwen said: ‘Some students who were initially worried about participating joined in later and it became more and more popular over the semester.

‘Some actually joined when the debate was over because the materials posted – videos, articles etc. were useful. And the page is still up and running now.’

Each argument was then evaluated by academic staff.

Shaimaa and Bronwen
Shaimaa and Bronwen

In fact, the debate has been a tremendous success with both groups of students. Helwan won the debate and Newcastle students attained higher marks in their assessments around this topic, informed in no small part, Bronwen is certain, by their experience of the debate.

Both groups enjoyed their experience and the teaching staff are currently in the process of analysing data from questionnaires they filled out about their experiences.

Bronwen has presented on the Helwan/Newcastle Facebook project in Cape Town in September 2015 and will present on the results of the questionnaire at the European Intellectual Property Teachers Network (EIPTN) meeting in Sophia, Bulgaria in July.

You can read more about how Bronwen did it and see more examples from across the University on the Case Studies database.

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