I have a confession to make: I am a property lawyer and I love land law.
Now I know that to some that statement must seem strange. Of all the foundation subjects on the qualifying law degree, land law is commonly the one that most students dislike or unfavourably compare to other subjects such as criminal law. So when I rejoined Nottingham Law School last year I set myself a challenge to make land law interesting. I decided to create something that would engage students and make land law relevant so that they could see it in action in their everyday life.
First of all I considered taking students on a walking tour around campus and Nottingham city centre to try and illustrate various aspects of land law and how it applied to real life situations.
However, walking tours are not easy to organise. Some students may be absent on the given day and tours can present logistical problems. Students can also be easily distracted or worse still disappear into the nearest Starbucks when the tutor’s back is turned.
No, what I needed was something that students could do on their own, without supervision, at any time. Something that also held their interest.
So I decided to harness technology and use the recently popular trend for playing Pokemon Go! to create an augmented reality game which I called Propertymon Go! whereby students would ‘collect’ various reflections on land law relating to specific sites around the campus and city centre.
Using the augmented reality app developed by Aurasma, I took twenty photographs of various objects or buildings either on campus or around the city centre. I then video recorded myself explaining a particular point of land law that was relevant to that object or building and overlayed the video on top of the photograph.
Using the Aurasma app (which is freely available for download on both iOS and Android) students could then hunt the objects or buildings with the aim of collecting all twenty.
As they found each object or building they simply had to view the object or building through the app on their phone (as they would do if they were taking a photo) and the app would open up and play my video explaining the relevant aspect of land law. It illustrated land law in action in a way that students could understand and it also added an element of gamification as students competed to hunt the objects or buildings and be the first to collect all 20.
Augmented reality offers many possibilities for legal education. The augmented tour of the court room for instance, or the interactive commercial lease. Encouraged by by Propertymon Go! being shortlisted for the Routledge ‘Teaching Law with Technology Prize’ at this year’s Association of Law Teachers conference, I intend to offer it to Nottingham Law School students this coming academic year and extend the use of AR to other areas of my teaching. If you want to see more details then take a look at the Propertymon Go! website and if you’re in Nottingham try to catch ‘em all yourself!
Nigel Hudson is a senior lecturer at Nottingham Law School (Nottingham Trent University)