York law Professor David Doorey of the School of Human Resource Management has taken the idea of blogging one step further. He’s developed his own app for his blog, now available for Apple devices as a free download through iTunes.
Doorey says the main reason he started Doorey's Workplace Law Blog was to better connect with his students. “I wanted to make my courses in workplace law and industrial relations interesting and ‘real’ for the students. By linking course theory and readings to real cases and current news events, I can build student interest in the course in ways a textbook never can.”
Right: David Doorey
But then he thought he could do that even better through an app. “The iTunes app is the next step,” he says. “Most students today have smartphones, and this app means I can now communicate with students daily, wherever they are. They are learning in fun new ways that fit with their lifestyles.”
His central audience has always been students studying in his subject areas at York and at other institutions. His blog looks at all aspects of employment law and highlights some of the more interesting and current cases, such as Fraser vs. Ontario: Constitutional Right to Collective Bargaining Survives, a discussion on whether Target Canada will buy unionized Zellers, and how the City of Toronto Committee voted to fire 300 unionized garbage collectors. Doorey's Workplace Law Blog won a CLawBies – Canadian Law Blog Award – in 2008 and again in 2009, and was a CLawBies finalist in 2010.
“I'm trying to stimulate their critical thinking in the field and make them want to learn more,” says Doorey. “The blog has attracted a much wider audience than just students, including legal and human resources practitioners and other academics, and I anticipate that the app will allow me to connect to more of these busy professionals.”
The blog, and now the app, will help interested students and professionals keep up with what's going on in new case law and in the academic world “as they commute to
work or wait in line to order coffee.” Doorey sees the app as a way to provide a service to the professional community in his field by summarizing relevant news. “It connects me to a whole new audience that is interested in the subject matter of my blog, but whose lives are too hectic to read it,” he says. “With the app, they just tap an icon, and they can quickly see what's going in the field.”
Doorey points out, however, that writing blogs and creating apps is not for everyone. “They are a lot of work to keep up, and you need to be really committed to it over the long haul for it to work. My motivation is my students, who turn over every few months. The new students give me the energy to keep going, since they respond very favourably, and since the blog and app are always introducing new stories and issues to the classroom, it never gets boring for me or the students.”
He is grateful for the help he received from Oksana Silkina and Alex Neumann in York's e-Services office in getting his app created and submitted to Apple for its approval to be published.