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Facebook: Bridging the otherness of online legal education
In The Merchant of Venice, Shylock the Jew represents the quintessential ‘other’. While he longs for acceptance, ultimately he is humiliated, and his alterity affirmed. Shylock’s sense of otherness fuels his appeal to the Venetian court to allow him his bond – a pound of his tormentor’s flesh. This paper adopts the concept of otherness as a lens to discuss distance education theory and student experience in online legal education. Fully online legal education is a relatively new form of pedagogy and it presents a range of challenges. One of those challenges is how to reach out to undergraduate law students who, by virtue of the mode of education they engage in, their place of residence, and other demographic factors, are positioned as ‘other’ according to traditional ideas about the legal profession and tertiary education in general. After discussing survey results from an online cohort, it considers the value of Facebook in bridging isolation and building student perceptions of inclusion and community.