Authentic fictions: simulation, professionalism and legal learning

Karen Barton, Patricia McKellar, Paul Maharg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Simulation is one of the major applications of the web in education and training as well as entertainment, but has until recently received relatively little attention in higher education. It is becoming increasingly clear that simulations can be used for educational purposes; but one of the key issues affecting such use is the extent to which simulations can be regarded as authentic learning activities.
This article explores some of the complex educational and hermeneutic
resonances of this phrase. The article then takes as a case study the development, deployment and effects of a simulation upon a professional
learning curriculum, the Scottish Diploma in Legal Practice at the Glasgow Graduate School of Law, and the part that authenticity plays in the simulation. The authors also describe the latest iteration of the simulation in the SIMPLE project (SIMulated Professional Learning Environment). A variety of disciplines and a number of sub-areas in law are using the SIMPLE open-source simulation
engine in their programs of study, and will be evaluating the results next year. The authors set such simulation activity within a larger technological, educational and ethical context, and argue that when such projects maintain a sense of professional authenticity, it is possible for students to learn effectively and deeply. Finally, the article argues that such projects are essential not only for the future of legal education but for the development of professionalism in most
professional disciplines in higher education. The truths of metaphysics are the truths of masks.1 I do think of instruments as having the best interfaces that have
ever been designed . . . If there’s any object in human experience that’s a precedent for what a computer should be like, it’s a musical instrument: a device where you can explore a huge range of possibilities through an interface that connects your mind and your body, allowing you to be emotionally authentic and expressive.2
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-194
Number of pages52
JournalClinical Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • law
  • legal learning
  • profesionalism


Dive into the research topics of 'Authentic fictions: simulation, professionalism and legal learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this