May 18, 2007
Live blogging my panel on blogging at Chicago-Kent
I fear it is not polite for me to live blog the panel on which I am speaking at this great conference at the Chicago-Kent College of Law entitled "Back to the Future of Legal Research." (The full details of this very interesting conference can be found at this link.) But even though I won't live blog, this post provides a forum for attendees (and others) to share comments and reactions. Please do.
May 17, 2007
Looking for Innovators...
My colleagues Jeremy Counseller and Rory Ryan have joined the Law Prof Blog Network, running the interesting (even to a criminal law guy like me) Civil Procedure Prof Blog. One of the things they have been doing is interviewing a newsmaker in the field of Civ Pro every week. I think this is a great way to spotlight new ideas, and I want to borrow from it.
Instead of an audio interview (at least at first), I would like to start a series of profiles of law teachers who have shown real innovation. If you are one such teacher, or know someone who really shines in this area, please send me an email at Mark_W_Osler@Baylor.edu, briefly describing the person and what they are doing.
May 15, 2007
Teaching Law as a Community of Practice
Last week I had the privilege of attending the inaugural meeting of the Negotiations Pedagogy at Program on Negotiation (NP@PON), "a new venture dedicated to improving the way people teach and learn about negotiation." NP@PON will be undertaking research, curriculum development, training and networking among those interested in negotiation pedagogy.
The all-day event featured two negotiation teachers who presented their innovative teaching approaches. Stephen Weiss of the Schulich School of Business (York University) in Toronto presented on "mega simulations;" Gerry Williams of J. Reuben Clark Law School (Brigham Young University) presented on video-annotation technology. Chris Dede, Harvard Graduate School of Education, commented from an educational perspective.
Aside from the content, what excited me most about this gathering was the way a community of practice (negotiation teachers) came together to teach each other about the craft of teaching. What's more, this group is committed to following through with responding to community needs, several of which were identified in small group discussions at the end of the event. Other ongoing support activities will include workshops/conferences, a literature review, briefing papers, and newsletters.
I would love to hear about efforts like this in other areas of law teaching. Do these kinds of conversations happen at AALS and similar venues, and are there systems to support work beyond the meetings? Who is out there convening these conversations?
- Gene Koo
presentation: New Skills & New Learning for Tomorrow's Lawyers
As you all know from earlier posts, I spent the autumn researching legal technology and education, examining how a changing practice environment affects what, and how, law schools should teach. The Berkman Center for Internet & Society, with LexisNexis, published the results as New Skills, New Learning: Legal Education & the Promise of Technology.
I will be presenting these findings and facilitating discussion about what legal educators (and others) can do to respond to emerging challenges at an upcoming Berkman Center luncheon:
Your participation as a law school innovator would be very welcome. Please RSVP if you can attend. Hope to see you next week!
- Gene Koo
May 14, 2007
Survey on Blogger Perceptions on Digital Preservation Ends on May 23rd
Should your blog posts be archived? The online survey is conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Information and Library Science. Details at Law Librarian Blog. -- Joe Hodnicki
May 13, 2007
Urging exam (and paper) innovations
Posts by Dan Solove at Concurring Opinions and by Ethan Leib at PrawfBlawg provide insights on an important question for any would-be law school innovator. Dan poses the question in the headline of his post when he asks "Should We Get Rid of the Law School In-Class Essay Exam?"
My answer is simple: YES! I see very few pedagogical benefits from a traditional in-class exams (especially closed-book exams). I think inertia, status quo biases and administrative convenience are the only reasons that traditional in-class exams persevere. (Even more than essay exams, multiple-choice exams seem to place administrative convenience even higher in the scheme of evaluation priorities.)
Ethan asserts that "'issue-spotting' over the course of a very compressed time period is [a skill] that lawyers actually use." I suppose I can recall a few times getting a call from a client or fellow lawyer that called for a quick off-the-cuff analysis, but never was I asked to respond in the timeframe and form of an in-class exam. (I often tell students that they risk a malpractice suit if they ever try to respond to a complicated legal problem in the manner we ask them to respond during an in-class exam.)
Except in my first-year criminal law course, I never give a traditional in-class exam (and, were it not for the administrative headaches I would create for students and colleagues, I definitely would change to a take-home exam in my first-year course as well). For various classes, I have assigned 48 hour take-home tests, one- and two-week take home tests, traditional research papers and non-traditional written projects (such as the white-paper assignment in my death penalty course this term). Though creating and grading non-traditional exams and paper assignments is not easy, the pay-off is usually exceptional. Perhaps more importantly, I can justify to myself and to my students how the exam/paper experience further develops real lawyering skills rather than just being a "who-can-show-off-while-reading-and-writing-quickly" contest.
Perhaps just to generate some comments, I challenge readers to provide any truly satisfying pedagogical justification for in-class law school exams. I also encourage readers to report on exam innovations that perhaps could replace in-class exams as a law school norm.
Posted by DAB