Jon Festinger: 5 lessons learned from using UBC’s open publishing platforms

Jon Festinger is a Vancouver, British Columbia based lawyer whose passion for teaching and law grew from his experiences as a lawyer and executive across the spectrum of media, communications, sports and entertainment. Jon is the author of the first edition of “Video Game Law” published by LexisNexis in 2005 and a co-author of the 2nd Edition that was published in 2012. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia where he teaches Video Game Law.

John FetzingerLast month, we highlighted the Video Game Law course in our spotlight on UBC Open: Three things you need to know about right now. We caught up with Jon earlier in the week and asked him to talk about his top lessons learned since making the course open.

  1. Maintaining a WordPress site is easier than imagined. According to Festinger, “maintaining a WordPress site was easier than I thought.” After Novak and his team at the Centre for Teaching and Learning Centre (CTLC) set up the blog and all the associated resources, Festinger found that he could update materials, post content and share resources whenever he wanted.
  2. Students feel comfortable with open web experiences. Because students are used to being online, sharing rich audio and video files, collaborating online comes easily. Students using open resources are more engaged with the subject matter, their instructors and classmates. Festinger acknowledged students have come to expect educations management systems like Moodle, as an example, be available from their higher education institutions. What surprised him, however, “was that faculty are not using open web resources more because they engage students more.”
  3. Not everything is going to work. Early on Festinger had wanted to students to upload their questions and comments using smartphone videos. He worked with the CTLC on a system where students could do so, within the university’s online publishing environment. The adoption wasn’t there. It was, to use Festinger’s words, “an experiment not ready for prime time.” Turns out there are limits to students’ engagement. If you want students to use the technology, it’s important to make it easy and to use platforms that are already in use, like YouTube, as an example.
  4. You become a better instructor. “By making your work open, you tend to work harder,” says Festinger. “You work hard at the pedagogy and become a better teacher because your work is out there for the whole world to see. And, the stakes are raised higher.”
  5. Global reach and visibility. Course materials and research have attracted not just other academics, but people from the financial and business sectors, including video game bloggers. Most recently, an interview with Jon Festinger was published in, Horrible Night, an American video game editorial website. Due to the course’s website and Festinger’s presence online, he has also received numerous invitations to speak at other universities, including Georgia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania’s law school.

Notable Quotes

By making your work open, you tend to work harder. You work at the pedagogy and become a better teacher because your work is out there for the whole world to see. And the stakes are raised higher. ~Jon Festinger


I cannot describe to you the feeling when your students voluntarily start posting things and engaging in thoughtful remarks about highly legal matters because they want to do it. And they are learning more from this than anything else in the course. ~Jon Festinger


Further reading: