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April 13, 2007

How not to use PowerPoint because...

... it's no laughing matter. Over on Law Librarian Blog, there's a video of a comedian demonstrating how not to use PowerPoint. I bet we have all see PowerPoint presentations that prove the comedian's point, use PowerPoint wisely if you want to communicate your ideas to your audience. -- Joe Hodnicki

April 13, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 11, 2007

If money were no object....

The news of Columbia University receiving a $400 million gift has me dreaming about what sort of law school reforms I would propose if money were no object.  My mind races with possible teaching, scholarship and service innovations that only a lot of money could help make happen (e.g., hiring law firm partners and associates to teach certain lawyering courses; creating massive legal databases to facilitate and foster empirical work; funding greater faculty involvement in major litigation in their fields of expertise).

Dear reader, how about dreaming along with me: what what sort of law school reforms would you propose if money were no object?

posted by DAB

April 11, 2007 in Reform | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Typepad Seems Lousy for Macs

Link: Law School Innovation.

Why can't Typepad improve its interface for Macs?

When I post to this implementation of Typepad via a Mac, Typepad almost always loses the paragraphs, resulting in a long, stream of consciousness-type post (for an example, see how it treated David Cole's Wash Post op-ed below). [Typepad did this to this very post initially, but then I inserted HTML code to mark the paragraphs.]

To be fair, the implementation of Typepad on my Chander.com website does not have this problem, though it doesn't handle other types of formatting and pictures when I blog via the Mac as well as it does than when I blog via a PC.

Six Degrees (Typepad's makers)--it's now 2007. Can't we figure out how to integrate Macs into the blogosphere?

--Anupam Chander

April 11, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 10, 2007

Law School Innovation: Banning Laptops in Class?

Link: David Cole - Laptops vs. Learning - washingtonpost.com. David Cole, courageous as always, has banned laptops in class. He explains in the Washington Post:
[M]y first-year students were a bit surprised when I announced at the first class this year that laptops were banned from my classroom. I did this for two reasons, I explained. Note-taking on a laptop encourages verbatim transcription. The note-taker tends to go into stenographic mode and no longer processes information in a way that is conducive to the give and take of classroom discussion. Because taking notes the old-fashioned way, by hand, is so much slower, one actually has to listen, think and prioritize the most important themes. In addition, laptops create temptation to surf the Web, check e-mail, shop for shoes or instant-message friends. That's not only distracting to the student who is checking Red Sox statistics but for all those who see him, and many others, doing something besides being involved in class. Together, the stenographic mode and Web surfing make for a much less engaged classroom, and that affects all students (not to mention me). I agreed to permit two volunteers to use laptops to take notes that would be made available to all students. And that first day I allowed everyone to use the laptops they had with them. I posed a question, and a student volunteered an answer. I answered her with a follow-up question. As if on cue, as soon as I started to respond, the student went back to typing -- and then asked, "Could you repeat the question?" When I have raised with my colleagues the idea of cutting off laptop access, some accuse me of being paternalistic, authoritarian or worse. We daydreamed and did crosswords when we were students, they argue, so how can we prohibit our students, who are adults after all, from using their time in class as they deem fit? A crossword hidden under a book is one thing. With the aid of Microsoft and Google, we have effectively put at every seat a library of magazines, a television and the opportunity for real-time side conversations and invited our students to check out whenever they find their attention wandering. I feel especially strongly about this issue because I'm addicted to the Internet myself. I checked my e-mail at least a dozen times while writing this op-ed. I've often resolved, after a rare and liberating weekend away from e-mail, that I will wait till the end of the day to read e-mail at the office. Yet, almost as if it is beyond my control, e-mail is the first thing I check when I log on each morning. As for multitasking, I don't buy it. Attention diverted is attention diverted. But this is all theory. How does banning laptops work in practice? My own sense has been that my class is much more engaged than recent past classes. I'm biased, I know. So I conducted an anonymous survey of my students after about six weeks -- by computer, of course. The results were striking. About 80 percent reported that they are more engaged in class discussion when they are laptop-free. Seventy percent said that, on balance, they liked the no-laptop policy. And perhaps most surprising, 95 percent admitted that they use their laptops in class for "purposes other than taking notes, such as surfing the Web, checking e-mail, instant messaging and the like." Ninety-eight percent reported seeing fellow students do the same.
Of course, not bringing a laptop will make outlining more difficult--and some may be concerned that for open book courses they might lose out on the stenographic nature of laptop notetaking. We can do our own unscientific--largely anonymous--poll here. Would it be better if laptops were banned? Do any students leave their laptops at home because they find that they learn more without one? Anupam Chander

April 10, 2007 in Teaching -- pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A challenge to Christian legal scholarship

In looking over a recent AALS report, I was surprised at how many of the newer law schools in this country are affiliated with Christian Universities.  One would expect that this would correlate to a rise in Christian legal scholarship, but I'm not sure that I am seeing that within the broader academy-- Christian scholarship does not seem to engage those who are not part of Christian schools as much as it should. 

Nosing around this issue, I stumbled upon David Skeel's working paper entitled "The Unbearable Lightness of Christian Legal Scholarship," available for download at SSRN.  From what I can tell via Westlaw, the article has not yet been published in a journal. 

The following is from Skeel's abstract of the paper:

When the ascendency of a new movement leaves a visible mark on American law, its footprints ordinarily can be traced through the pages of America's law reviews. But the influence of evangelicals and other theologically conservative Christians has been quite different. Surveying the law review literature in 1976, the year Newsweek proclaimed as the year of the evangelical, one would not find a single scholarly legal article outlining a Christian perspective on law or any particular legal issue. Even in the 1980s and 1990s, the literature remained remarkably thin. By the 1990s, distinctively Christian scholarship had finally begun to emerge in a few areas. But even today, the scope of Christian legal scholarship is shockingly narrow for such a nationally influential movement.

While I disagree with some of Skeel's points, it is hard to deny his challenge to Christian scholars to engage more broadly with the rest of the academy.

-- Mark Osler

April 10, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack