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July 6, 2007

Proposal: A National (or International?) Pro Bono Clearinghouse

Occasionally, I receive inquiries asking for pro bono advice on legal matters. Given my teaching and scholarly duties, I'm not well-positioned to offer such advice. When appropriate, I steer the inquirers to our legal clinics. For most cases, however, it would be better if I could suggest some kind of pro bono clearinghouse that would take care of the inquiry. One model might be Amazon's MTurk--where people offer and seek services. Such a service would list categories (intellectual property, human rights, children's rights, women's rights, antidiscrimination, community service, etc.), and both suppliers and demanders could make themselves known--perhaps even anonomously on the public site. Perhaps such clearinghouses already exist. A quick web search reveals local clearinghouses offered by the Richmond and NY bars, but not a national database of the type I'm envisioning here. Perhaps AALS or the ABA might offer such a service? Anupam Chander

July 6, 2007 in Legal profession realities and developments | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Combining MindManager/PowerPoint/Google Picasa in a Classroom

I'm promoting a comment by high school history teacher David Huston to the main page to make sure that it receives its due attention. The comment responds to my earlier complaints on this site about PowerPoint. I've been experimenting with MindManager for the last few months, and have been duly impressed.
I have been using MindManager to "explode" my very long and detailed PowerPoint presentations. I always felt imprisoned by PPt's "linearity". It does indeed "flatten" every point. It allows very little opportunity for spontaneity or framing the various levels and categories of a unit. Mindmanager allows for that. By collapsing and expanding different levels of the map, you can retain the overall structure of the presentation while you simultaneously drill down into the details of a specific part. It's also possible to make connections at a higher order of abstraction using the hierarchical structure of MindManager. This just isn't possible with PPT. I have also come up with a nifty way to gain better control and selectivity of my PPT slides. You might want to try this: I export them as JPEGs to Google's Free photo app Picasa. Then I upload them to Picasa Album on line. Then I create subsets of them in different folders on Picasa. Then I get the URL of my mini-albums, then I create a link in my MindManager map to my Picasa album. Voila! When I am discussing that particular topic, I have the freedom to click the link in MM, and I can either display a selected image or images, or I can chose the option of looking at a linear display of all the slides in an online gallery that Picasa constructs on the fly. BTW,I use a wireless Wacom tablet in class to open and close nodes and open links. Works great. Much easier than being tied to the podium with a PC. I feel like the Wizard in Oz! Also, I post my MindMaps after class for student reference. Since all my links are absolute URLs, ALL my media are accessible to students. MindJet provides a FREE downloadable file viewer for either Macs or PCs. The maps are fully functional--all links work and all nodes expand and collapse. They are not editable files, of course. So, there you have it. Now I control PPT, it doesn't control me! I think I have combined the best of both worlds here. Give it a try and feel free to contact me if you have any questions about how all of this works. PS I am a high school history teacher, not a law professor, so perhaps I have to entertain and amuse my audience a bit more than you guys!
Anupam Chander

July 6, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Innovation and Law School Rankings

Doug asks in an earlier post whether it might be useful to rank schools based on innovation. I suspect that the principal uses of law school rankings are (1) to signal quality of the education to students; and (2) to signal quality of students to employers. An innovation-meter would not have a significant relationship to either, I think. Schools that innovate may not necessarily be great in teaching--some of the best teachers at UC Davis have been teaching using the same methods that they've used for decades. Yes, innovation can improve teaching, student experience, employment prospects, and scholarship--but it isn't the best indicator for the quality of the education offered, or for the quality of the student. Take two schools, Blackacre Law School and Whiteacre Law School, both exactly equal in T0. If Blackacre innovates--say by offering an array of teaching styles other than the traditional Socratic method, offering allowing its students to fulfill a substantial percentage of requirements by self-directed study or non-law related internship--does that make Blackacre the better school for either students or employers? This blog, of course, does not promote innovation-for-innovation's-sake, but innovation likely to improve legal education and scholarship, so perhaps my concern could be met by any innovation metric somehow accounting for the quality of the innovation. (Congrats, Doug, on the incisive, top of the fold, NY Times front page quote on the Libby commutation, by the way!) Anupam Chander

July 6, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack