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On the 3rd of November 2020 Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in EU Law (JMCE), part of the Jean Monnet Network entitled “European Union and the Challenges of Modern Society (Legal Issues of Digitalization, Robotization, Cyber Security and Prevention of Hybrid Threats)” hosted a special workshop. The workshop “Modern technologies in teaching and EU legal practice – new approaches and challenges in the times of a war in Ukraine”. The event was opened by Associate Professor Naděžda Šišková, Head of JMCE and the main coordinator of the network. The network is bringing together five scientific institutions: the University of Heidelberg (Germany), Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia), Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovakia), the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Ukraine), and Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in EU Law at Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic (Leading partner).

The workshop was focused on new methodological and pedagogical approaches to teaching in light of modern technologies. The workshop contracted mainly on opportunities for improving teaching and learning processes in higher education deriving from these factors. Other very important directions of the workshop were dedicated to the issues of the effective usage of modern technologies in searching for adequate employment for graduates from universities and other relevant issues of digital labour platforms (including labour law questions concerning employees in the digital platforms). Some other issues are connected also to the implementation of modern technologies in practice – for instance, the implication of the usage of modern technologies in consumer law including consumer protection in the relations of digital platforms. The usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the judicial and legal practice of different European states created a part of the workshop as well.

The opening sections included also remarks from honourable guests, including Prof. Martin Procházka, Rector, of Palacky University who welcomed over 80 participants. Mr. Rector highlighted fruitful cooperation with the partners, among them also Prof. Volodymyr Bugrov, Rector at Taras Shevchenko University who also delivered greetings from Ukraine. Prof. Bugrov in his opening remarks highlighted the difficult situation of academic and education sectors in Ukraine facing many challenges caused by Russian aggression against Ukraine. Challenges range from material (including the destruction of university infrastructure by bombings and electricity shortages) to very practical, including lack of experts of any kind who will be needed when the reconstruction of Ukraine will start. Extreme conditions were also highlighted in her opening remarks by Nadia Malovana, Second Secretary for Education and Humanitarian Issues, Embassy of Ukraine to the Czech Republic. Madam Malovana thanked the Czech friends and citizens for supporting Ukraine in difficult times.

Madam Šiškova also introduced two students from the Faculty of Law, PU, Vasyl Kapustej and Andrej Poleščuk, who organized collections of material help for Ukraine which will be collected from the of 1st November until 30th November 2022. Donations will be given to Refugees in western Ukraine. 

The floor was opened to Peter-Christian Müller-Graff, Director of the Heidelberg University Institute for German and European Corporate and Economic Law, Faculty of Law University of Heidelberg who opened the second section about teaching in a digital age. He develop the idea of “teaching” and the importance of the context and the origins based on the so-called Paris model which become significant for Anglo-Saxon countries. He introduced also different models, including that of Bologna soon expanding to German-speaking countries. Digital education is a challenge and might be understood from the prism of both models in different ways. Covid-19 provided also opportunities for blended education and invited keynote speaker Dr. Maxim Tomoszek who explored various areas of blended education.

Dr. Maxim Tomoszek, Vice-Dean of Faculty of Law Palacky University, delivered a presentation on „Blended Learning in Higher Education – Opportunities Deriving from COVID experience“. He highlighted, that in almost every higher education institution, COVID restriction required significant improvement in use of modern technology and online teaching. Now it seems that we could go back to “good old times”. But is that what we want? There are online teaching materials already existing, students and teachers are skilled in using modern technologies,  there were numerous new teaching methodologies, which were already implemented, and it would be a shame not to use this capital developed during COVID times further on. The presentation focused on opportunities for improving teaching and learning processes in higher education deriving from these factors. The quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning can be improved, especially by better allocating time to crucial parts of the teaching process, streamlining virtual mobility, and allowing for a more personalized study experience. 

Prof. Kseniia Smyrnova, Vice-Rector for International Cooperation at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv delivered a presentation on „New Forms of Teaching and Learning during a War-Time in Ukraine: Challenges and Perspectives. Educational Diplomacy during a War“. Madam Smyrnova opened her presentation with photos of destroyed university infrastructure and information about international partnerships. She highlighted that war led to the relocation of students and staff which resulted in learning distortion, risk of brain-drain, continuing e-learning, the exodus of international students, expectations of significant shrinkage of future admissions, etc. A great part of her presentation was aimed at measures taken to address the challenges of war including blended education or mixed labs online in Kyiv and other partners. The university is using joint degree programs, joining existing or just-created alliances, and using donations and fundraising to compensate for budget cuts and the loss of international students. Wherever their professors and students are, they are considered ambassadors. She noted, that apart from the on-line learning and disrupted education process, students and teachers are suffering also from other effects of war.

The third section was opened by Doc. David Sehnálek, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law, Masaryk University in Brno spoke about the „Distance Learning of Legal Knowledge and Skills – Lessons Learned from COVID (and post-COVID)“. The main obstacle seems to be lectures from hundreds of people, who shall participate online. The question is how to ensure participation because the lecture is a compulsory part of the full-time course, but students “vote with their feet”. As a result, students often watch lectures at the end of the semester during the exam period because the lectures are recorded and might be played later. One of the effects is that students were less prepared for seminars. A good way might be 20 minutes summaries from the lectures which will help students instantly prepare. Doc. Sehnálek provided several perspectives, on how on-line hybrid education might be provided. Part of the presentation discusses also the Moot court solution. Online education is an opportunity to improve the design of the study programme and allows greater emphasis on feedback.

Dr. Alla Fedorova, Senior Lecturer from the Institute of International Relations, Taras Schevchenko National University of Kyiv dedicated her contribution to the “Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals”. DR Fedorova introduced the program HELP = Program for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals and its courses covering many topics and put it into the context of Recommendation 2004(4) of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from 12th May of 2004. During the pandemic, users of the HELP platform rose dramatically to enjoy all three components of the HELP: HELP Network; HELP e-courses and platform; and HELP Methodology. The rest of the presentation was dedicated to the introduction and overview of the courses and materials available, including an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages. Concluding remarks were dedicated to the impact of HELP courses at the Institute of International relations of the Taras Shevchenko national university.

The fourth session was opened by Dr. Tomáš Tintěra,Senior lecturer, Faculty of Law, Palacky University in Olomouc who entitled his contribution „Digital Labour Platforms, Their Peculiarities and Impact on Employees Rights”. Dr. Tintěra defined the digital labour platform and discussed individual elements of the definition as proposed by the European Commission including the objectives. His presentation focuses on the legal analysis of the Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on improving working conditions in platform work with a special focus on Article 4.

Prof. JUDr. Blanka Vítová, PhD., Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law, Palacky University, dealt with „The Impact of Digital Technology on Consumer Protection“. In the presentation, she highlighted that digital technologies support the development of e-commerce and the sector is growing very fast. As a result, consumer issues are under discussion due to the development of digital technologies/platforms. In her contribution, she was dealing mainly with the liability of online platforms, that act as a “marketplace” for other traders’ goods or services, especially in the context of caselaw (C-149/15 or C-390/18). She informed also the audience about the Corporate Social Responsibility concept and its context as referred to in the Green Paper from 2001. Finally, the presentation revealed some examples of unfair commercial practices on digital platforms in the travel sector such as “last room available”, not displaying the final price, lack of transparency to the consumer, forcing consumers to sign for further marketing communication, etc. Dr. Vítova highlighted, that most of the unfair practices are already violating existing legislation.

The last contribution of the section was prepared by Aleksi Kajander, – Doctoral candidate at the Department of Law, Tallinn University of Technology who prepared a contribution together with Dr. Agnes Kasper– Senior lecturer, at the Department of Law, Tallinn University of Technology. The presentation was dealing with the „EU Common Position on International Law and Cyberspace“. The core of the contribution was based on the EU’s 2020 Cybersecurity Strategy including the joint position on the application of International Law in Cyberspace. The shift is from “if” to “how” it applies. Their contribution was based on the analysis of documents available for the position of Austria, Estonia, France, Finland, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Romania, and the Czech Republic. Just nine countries prepared positions, however, they are often not discussing the same things. They analysed various aspects, for example, whether sovereignty is a rule or a principle. They highlighted diverging positions among NATO member states. A similar analysis was presented in the due diligence area or some problematic consents, such as neutrality in cyberspace or the use of force.

The final section was aimed at robotization and related issues. It was opened by Dr. Soňa Matochová, – Head of the Analysis Department, Czech Data Protection Office who was talking about „Artificial Intelligence from the Data Protection and Privacy Perspective“. She highlighted the everyday use of AI including the internet of things, autonomous cars, online shopping, robotics, etc. which is changing our lives. She provided several definitions of AI and presented some outcomes of AI in the area of art. Her contribution focused on the preparation of the draft Act on Artificial Intelligence. In 2017, the European Commission emphasized the need to respond, later a pan-European Discussion was launched, and sometime later the Act proposal was presented on 21. 4. 2021. The important issue is high-risk systems in the sense of AI, especially about biometric identification and categorization of persons which is having great potential for example in migration management.  In her contribution, she was highlighting the ethical aspects of AI and prospects for the research in the Czech Republic, which is very active in research about AI. Finally, she presented the issues relate to the article 22 of GDPR about the AI.

Another speaker was Doc. Jozef Andraško – Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law, Comenius University in Bratislava who delivered a presentation about the „Regulation of automated vehicles: lessons from Slovakia.“ At the beginning, the speaker provided definition of the Automated vehicles and their categories including an introduction into the systems and technologies. He focused on the changes made in recent years in relation to UN Regulation No. 157 and its amendment which is for example extending the speed. Considerable part of the presentation dealt with the Slovak Proposal of the Act on Avs which was very complicated in negotiations and amends the Road Traffic Act and the Act on the operation of vehicles in road traffic. The rest of the presentation provided a detailed analysis of the proposal with practical implications, e. g. in the area of operation of automated delivery vehicles. As a result of the advanced AV development, Slovakia developed new categories of drivers e. g. supervisor or remote drivers with possible implications for legal practice.

The last speaker was Dr. Ondřej Filipec, Senior lecturer, and member of Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence Faculty of Law Palacky University in Olomouc was dealing with the topic “The Czech Republic and Artificial Intelligence: A New Tiger Emerging in Central Europe?“. Based on the address of former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš delivered to the 74th General Assembly where he presented a vision for the Czech Republic to become a country of Robots, using safe and responsible AI. An ambitious vision led to the thesis, that the Czech Republic is an emerging “tiger” in Central Europe. For that reason, the presented analysis was aimed at the overview of the development since 2011 toward an ambitious AI strategy (2019) and its implementation. Dr. Filipec concluded, that despite some areas of great progress (e.g. supercomputers located at the “IT4Innovations” in Ostrava, European Centre of Excellence in Prague or Autonomous Vehicles testing areas), the Czech Republic is not very far from being compared with other countries in the region, which might be well shown also on the Government AI Preparedness Index published by the Oxford Insight.