Learning in Progress! Teaching law students through games

Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2019

Imagine law students learning about contract law by solving puzzles to escape a room they’ve been locked into by a scheming lawyer. Imagine constitutional law students assigned to design a new constitution for a fictional world populated by strange creatures. Imagine law students as high stakes negotiators tasked with drafting an international treaty aimed at combating climate change.


Thomas Burelli speaks with a delegation during the simulation activity of a climate change conference.


These games are the not-so-crazy inventions of professors Thomas Burelli and Alexandre Lillo.Their initiative aims to leverage the power of games to teach students at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section. In doing so, they have expanded the set of tools used to teach law.

To discuss their theories and material, professors Thomas Burelli and Alexandre Lillo have launched an online platform – Learning in Progress / Apprentissage en cours– to share their game-based teaching activities.



Since 2017, Thomas Burelli and Alexandre Lillo have incorporated game-based learning strategies into their lessons on international environmental law, natural resource law, and water resource management and law.

These activities include simulations of fictional international negotiations that tackle areas such as climate change or whaling regulation.

Through the Learning in Progress / Apprentissage en cours platform, Thomas Burelli and Alexandre Lillo provide free access to all the materials and advice needed to organize or adapt their activities. They invite their colleagues, and any other interested parties, to copy these activities, adapt them to their needs, and create new ones.



They intend to use the platform to regularly share new ideas, discussions, and projects that relate to learning through play.

Feel free to contact them if you are interested in, or curious about, this unique approach to teaching. After all, you shouldn’t have to rely on yesterday’s tools to teach tomorrow’s lawyers!


We wish to thank the The Law Foundation of Ontario and the University of Ottawa Teaching and Learning Support Service for their support.


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