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Apps for Justice Challenge

What is this?

Our new Apps for Justice Challenge is a creative, collaborative way to explore access to justice (A2J) issues, as well as fundamental legal concepts and areas of law, through the lens of technology.

Branching off from a successful pilot of the program last spring, done in partnership with the University of Ottawa, this year’s iteration is a new and improved version, incorporating feedback from teachers and participants and brand new scenarios, while maintaining the pillars of what makes this classroom activity such a fun time.

How do I run it?

This program is designed to run during a multi-week period in order to give you and your students time to go through each of the five days of the program, with each “day” being a 60-minute chunk.

The first day takes a broad view of access to justice incorporating OJEN’s Access to Justice Game as well as discussion questions for the class. The second day uses a warm-up scenario (i.e., one that is shorter and less complex than the main one for the challenge) to get students to put themselves into someone’s else shoes, imagining what it would feel like to experience multiple A2J hurdles and barriers, and starting to think about how technology might help to address and alleviate them. In the classroom materials, real-life examples of apps and websites that have done this successfully are shared so that students can see the applications in a concrete way.

On Day 3, the challenge’s main scenario is introduced. This is a scenario that builds upon the narrative of the first scenario from Day 2, following the central character along their journey as they encounter further complex issues that engage multiple different areas of law. After they sit with this narrative, students will be encouraged to select one of these issues and legal areas that they wish to work to help solve through an app idea. This is where the collaboration comes into play, as well as learning how to deliver constructive feedback as the newly formed groups share their preliminary ideas.

Day 4 is a big working session during which the groups spend the majority of the class collaborating on their app’s mock-up through either a hard copy or digital poster. All the groups last year did this digitally through either slides or a mock website. It is up to you as to the type of presentation, but all of the posters should have the foundational elements of the app that are listed in the classroom materials. (Note here that is unlikely that students will be able to complete the entire mock-up during one sixty-minute session so homework can be assigned either before or after this day to allow for more time to work on this.)

The fifth and last day is a chance for groups to share their ideas in a positive, open forum with opportunities for feedback from their fellow classmates. To help this process along, we have developed a feedback form for students that has tips for giving good feedback as well as space for them to make notes as they listen to the presentations. At the end of the presentation, you may allow the class to vote on a winner; this can be done both if you’d like to have a winner on an individual classroom level but also if you decide to send a representative from your classroom to the Final Pitch event.

The Final Pitch event is an optional component of the Apps for Justice Challenge in which one “winning” group from each classroom is invited to present to a panel comprised of OJENers as well as people in the legal and tech spheres so we can hear about all the great work that has been going on during this program. Students will get feedback from these panellists and an overall winner will be selected.

OK, this sounds fun! How do I sign up?

If this sounds like something you’re interested in for your classroom (and we hope that it is!), registration will be opening on February 12th and closing on March 4th. Classroom materials, including the teacher’s guide and the scenarios, will be available once registration has closed. 

Once registration has closed and the materials have been distributed, there will be an open Google Doc shared in which teachers (and students, should the teachers desire) will be encouraged to post their questions about the materials, scenarios or the running of the program. Questions will be answered by OJEN staff within two weekdays. This will ensure continued and sustained support throughout the challenge, as well as shared learning and exchanged knowledge with other participants.

You may run the program in the way that you like once materials have been released, as long you get through the five days by the time of the Final Pitch event in mid-April.

Should you have any questions about the above, please e-mail our dedicated challenge e-mail address:

2024 registration

Registration opens: February 12th

Registration closes: March 4th, 11:59 p.m.

Register Here



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