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Paul Maharg

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Professor Paul Maharg is Co-Director of Legal Practice Courses, and Director of the innovative Learning Technologies Development Unit in CPLS at the University of Strathclyde. He has published widely in the fields of legal education and professional learning design. His specialisms include interdisciplinary educational design, and the use of ICT at all levels of legal education. He recently participated in a 2 year JISC-funded interdisciplinary project involving law, architecture, social work and management science to develop an open source simulation environment SIMPLE (Simulated Professional Learning Environment), which is designed to enhance student and professional’s learning within and across professions. In his contribution to the conference on the theme of ‘Social software, professional relationships and democratic professionalism'  drawing on the experience gained through this project. Paul blogs at http://zeugma.typepad.com and you can find out more about his educational philosophy and practice through his influential book 'Transforming Legal Education: Learning and Teaching the Law in the Early Twenty-first Century', Ashgate Publishing, 324pp. www.transforming.org.uk




'Associated thought’: social software, professional relationships and democratic professionalism

Paul Maharg, LawSchool,  University of Strathclyde


Link to full draft paper: Associated thought paper.pdf

Link to .ppt slides: Associated life slides, Surrey April 2009.ppt 


Video presentation 


Democratic professionalism is a form of re-professionalization built around models of active and collaborative democratic change.  One of the many problems inherent in democratic professionalism is the part played by professionals in both the creation and maintenance of rights, and in the dialogue concerning the nature of freedom in a democracy.  Professionals may engage only in technocratic professionalism; or they may play a role in analysing problems of democratic engagement, authenticity and integrity, thus engaging in democratic professionalism.  How can we persuade students to the latter, rather than the former?


This paper argues, first, that Dewey's form of educational praxis is one method by which we can encourage democratic professionalism in education; and that a key element of our approach should be the Deweyan concerns with ‘associated life’ and 'associated thought', namely the cultural and social forms of professional association, and the forms and patterns of social thinking that professionals undertake in practice. Second, and moving from the early twentieth century to the early twenty-first century, the internet offers us profound opportunities to engage in new forms of social and educational engagement, and particularly in applications known as social software. 


Two case studies are offered.  The first describes a regulatory initiative to embody Deweyan forms of association to encourage democratic professionalism, and I describe the process and outcomes to date of this initiative.  The second, a software initiative called SIMPLE, embodies Dewey’s concept of associated thinking.  I give some examples of how such software has the capability to enrich learning about professional relationships, and to transform professional education and knowledge production.  In particular I shall show how critical is the focus on professional relationships early in a programme of study; how learning about and from such relationships can encourage greater engagement with programme content; and what learners can achieve as a result of such engagement. Finally, I analyse how such software could be used to facilitate forms of democratic professionalism in society. 







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