Online Dispute Resolution - Legal Studies 391K
Spring 2005 – University of Massachusetts Continuing Education
Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution
Instructor: Daniel Rainey, Director of Alternative Dispute Resolution Services, The National Mediation Board

General Description
Online Dispute Resolution will offer the student an opportunity to investigate and interact with online dispute resolution (ODR) professionals in three broad areas: 1) the history and development of ODR; 2) the current status of ODR world-wide; and, 3) key issues involved in the application of ODR technology. Specifically, the course will address the application of ODR tools in commercial disputes, interpersonal disputes, legal/courtroom contexts, labor-management disputes, and as an element of three primary dispute resolution modes: arbitration, mediation, and facilitation. Basic ADR design requirements will be used as a framework to examine the application of ODR technology.

During the semester students will view and listen to mini-lectures from the instructor and guests, and they will participate in threaded discussions with guests from some of the leading institutions and corporations involved in ODR, worldwide. In addition, the course will include several ODR simulations.

Online Dispute Resolution course content will consist of online and offline material. Online, students will access readings (URL’s to be provided), audio/Power Point lectures (MP3 files or Wave files), chats and threaded discussions with the professor and various guest lecturers, and simulations or other ODR exercises. Offline content will consist of readings in assigned text(s). Students will be graded on: 1) participation in online discussions, chats, and exercises; and, 2) two writing assignments.

Schedule: January 25 – May 12, 2005

Platform: This course will be conducted using the UMass Prometheus distance education platform.

Required Text: Online Dispute Resolution for Business, Colin Rule, 2002, Jossey-Bass, ISBN: 0-7879-5731-3

Instructor Background:
Daniel Rainey is currently the Director of Alternative Dispute Resolution Services for the National Mediation Board, the U.S. Federal agency responsible for labor-management dispute resolution in the U.S. airline and railroad industries. Prior to working for the NMB, he was president of a dispute resolution consulting firm, and in his dim, dark past he was a university professor. It should be understood that any comments or opinions expressed by the instructor during this course are personal and not the official position of the National Mediation Board

Outline of Content

Session 1: Week of January 24, 2005

Course Introduction – PowerPoint with audio by Daniel Rainey
ODR Basics - advantages / disadvantages, acronyms of ODR, types of ODR, from Colin Rule’s audio lectures and PowerPoint’s from Session 1, Spring 2004.

Part I (chapters 1-3) from Online Dispute Resolution for Business Melissa Conley Tyler, “115 and Counting: The State of ODR 2004,” available online at

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: Both writing assignments for the course are to be delivered to the instructor by e-mail in either a Word document or a text document. Both assignments may be posted for all of the students in the class to read.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT #1: The first assignment is to identify a use of online dispute resolution technology that would be available to you if you chose to use it (the ODR technology could be local, state, federal, or international) and write up a description of the technology and its use. The write up should, at a minimum, include information about the venue in which the technology is used, a description of how and for what it is used, and some evaluation of its effectiveness. You should also include references or links to information about the technology available online. It is assumed that some direct contact with the creators/managers of the technology will be necessary. Length is not a primary concern – be succinct but complete. I’m not looking for War and Peace. This assignment is due to the instructor by e-mail no later than March 14, 2005.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT #2: The second assignment is to identify a venue in which ODR is not being used, but in which ODR could be used. Describe the venue, explain how and why you would suggest ODR, describe what type of ODR would be appropriate, and outline some of the implementation challenges or barriers that you see. Suggest, if you can, how to overcome these challenges or barriers. Again, length is not the primary concern – the object of this assignment is to demonstrate that you have understood the basic forms of ODR, and that you have some understanding of the problems one might face in implementing an ODR system. This assignment is due to the instructor by e-mail no later than May 2, 2005.

Session 2: Week of January 31, 2005
ODR Basics, (Cont.) - Colin Rule’s audio lectures and PowerPoint’s from Session 1 Spring 2004.

Session 3: Week of February 7, 2005
History and Context – Early experiments, non-profit and academic, Internet boom/revolution, integration, standards efforts, evolving applications, from Colin Rule’s Session 2 audio lectures and PowerPoints.

Session 4: Week of February 14, 2005
ODR Applications – Ecommerce (B2B, B2C), Insurance, Workplace, Multiparty public disputes, International, Other applications, from Colin Rule’s Session 3 PowerPoint and audio lectures.

READING ASSIGNMENT: Part II (chapters 4-12) from Online Dispute Resolution for Business.

Session 5: Week of February 21, 2005
ODR Applications (Cont.) – From ADR to ODR, Online Communication, New Challenges and Skills, Online Processes and Standards, Mastering the Technology, Designing ODR Systems, from Colin Rule’s Session 4 PowerPoint and audio files.

READING ASSIGNMENT: Part III (chapters 13-17) from Online Dispute Resolution for Business.

Session 6: Week of February 28, 2005
ODR and Issues of Culture – Audio and PowerPoint lecture by Daniel Rainey, with possible guests for discussion.

Sharanya Rao, “The Cultural Vacuum in Online Dispute Resolution,” available online at
Siew Fang Law and David Peter Leonard, “Culture, Language and Online Dispute Resolution,” available online at

Session 7: Week of March 7, 2005
International Applications of ODR – discussion with Melissa Conley Tyler, International Conflict Resolution Centre, University of Melbourne, Australia

Session 8: Week of March 14, 2005
SPRING BREAK – no assignments


Session 9: Week of March 21, 2005
International Applications of ODR – Sanjana Hattotuwa – online discussion of the use of ODR tools (Groove) in the Sri Lankan conflict.

Sanjana Hattotuwa, “Thoughts of Technology in the Wake of a Tragedy,” available online at
Sanjana Hattotuwa, “Daring to Dream: CSCW for Peacebuilding,” available online at

Session 10: Week of March 28, 2005
Online Auctions – Mark Eckstein of

Session 11: Week of April 4, 2005
Platform Practicum – ConflictLab – Peter Hart

Session 12: Week of April 11, 2005
Platform Practicum – ClaimRoom – Graham Ross

Session 13: Week of April 18, 2005
Practicum – eRoom – Colin Rule

Session 14: Week of April 25, 2005
ODR and Government – Audio and PowerPoint lecture by Daniel Rainey, with discussion.

Session 15: Week of May 2, 2005
ODR and the Courts – discussion with Jeremy Barnett of Legal Grid Training, Leeds, UK

READING ASSIGNMENT: Jeremy Barnett, “The Virtual Courtroom and Online Dispute Resolution,” available online at


Session 16: Week of May 9, 2005
ODR and the Courts – Courtroom 21 – Discussion with Mollie Nichols


Justice Brian Tamberlin, “Online Dispute Resolution and the Courts,” available online at
Frederic I. Lederer, “An Introduction to Technologically Augmented Litigation,” available online at

Copyright 2005 Daniel Rainey. Teachers are free to copy these materials for educational use in their courses only, provided that appropriate acknowledgment of the author is made. For permission to use these materials for any other purpose, contact the author.