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July 14, 2007

Innovator Profile: Prof. Elizabeth Townsend-Gard and Rachel Goda

In spring 2007, Prof. Elizabeth Townsend-Gard (visiting at Seattle U. at the time, now at Tulane; also a Stanford Center for Internet & Society Fellow) used the virtual world Second Life to teach concepts and principles of property to her 1L class. With the assistance of then-2L Rachel Goda, Prof. Townsend-Gard used Second Life as a foil for our real-world experience, exploiting the similarities and differences between our daily physical experience of property and the strange (for newbs, at least) virtual one to shake up assumptions about ownership.

I had this vision... it just struck me that [Second Life] is a really great way to teach property -- that you would have this notion that you're coming from the feudal world, we're in the market world and we are quickly going into the future, into a virtual property world, and wouldn't it be interesting to take 100 1L students into Second Life and see how much modern property law you could find in Second Life. And so I told Rachel this madcap idea, and she said, "I'll help! This sounds great! I would love to do this!"

(Podcast and links after the break.)

"All property is made up," notes Prof. Townsend-Gard, and students came to understand how our property laws came into being through a combination of the laws of physics and custom. (For example, Second Life obviates the need for laws regarding misplaced property because it is coded to return your items to you after a set period of time -- a "law of physics" absent in our real world).

I had the pleasure of interviewing both Prof. Townsend-Gard and Ms. Goda yesterday, and I am offering the audio recording of that conversation for this podcast edition of the LSI blog:

  1. Introductions and an overview of the class
  2. Why virtuality matters and what it means for tomorrow's lawyers
  3. Advice for other teachers who want to use Second Life

Prof. Townsend-Gard blogged her class's experience, or more accurately, posted student work. The blog nicely illustrates the creative and collaborative capacity of law students in the form of video presentations. (I would note that all of the pedagogical value of podcasting applies to these efforts). Several aspects of these presentations could well be expanded to become serious contributions to the study of virtual worlds. Appropriately, Prof. Townsend-Gard also blogged her experience at Terra Nova, the leading blog of virtual world studies:  April 2, April 4, April 23, April 24, April 26. The April 23 post is particularly interesting, as many students who participated in this experimental class submitted comments.

- Gene Koo

July 14, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2007

What Pedagogic Value Does Podcasting Have?

In a comprehensive survey of the latest academic studies on the impact of podcasting on learning and teaching, Ashley Deal, a researcher in the  Office of Technology for Education & the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University, found that podcasting follows the pattern of many campus technology innovations.

"As with any educational technology, whether and how podcasting impacts the quality of the learning experience and/or educational outcomes depends largely upon how the technology is put to use," Deal wrote.

So, does podcasting enhance education? "The answer to that question depends entirely on the educational context, including goals and appropriate learning activities, and on how the tool is implemented," said Deal.

"Podcasting does not contain any inherent value. It is only valuable inasmuch as it helps the instructor and students reach their educational goals, by facilitating thoughtful, engaging learning activities that are designed to work in support of those goals."

Download the white paper (PDF). -- Joe Hodnicki

July 11, 2007 in Teaching -- pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 10, 2007

The Innovative Student

Thus far, most of the law school innovations we have discussed have been professor or dean initiated.  However, it seems to me that many of the more significant innovations have been initiated by students-- those who demand a certain course, or start a new tradition at a school that connects to the discourse and learning that goes on there.  Off the top of my head, I can think of quite a few types of innovations that are largely the creations of students, not faculty:

1)  The multitude of new journals that sprout every year, almost always tracking a student interest.
2)  The "Free Speech Wall" at Yale Law that plays a large role in nearly every debate that goes on there.
3)  Lectures given at many schools, often by controversial figures, at the invitation of student groups.
4)  The proliferation of blogs, even, which chronicle and sometimes promote the culture of a school.

There are many other examples, of course.  Perhaps the broader lesson is that if we seek innovation, part of the project should be listening to and encouraging the voices of our students.

-- Mark Osler

July 10, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 9, 2007

Keeping Courses Current: a call for your input

CALI is developing a system to enable law professors to assemble course packs to supplement (or replace) casebooks. Dubbed eLangdell, the project has several goals: simplify the creation process for teachers, lower costs for students, and establish a commons where teachers can share teaching resources. (Students will be able to use these materials online, or print them at a micropress or on their own.)

I'm soliciting feedback from professors on how to make this resource as valuable as possible, and would love your thoughts on any of the questions below. (Submit them as comments to this post).

  1. What aspects of assembling a coursepack are particularly annoying, unpleasant, or impossible?
  2. What portion of the resources you use are protected by copyright and not available under fair use? Is there a good process of securing permissions? (cf. The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age)
  3. Have you ever peeked at the syllabus of someone else teaching a similar course as you, and if so, what's proven most useful? Into whose syllabus would you love to peek?
  4. What MUST eLangdell be able to do before you would consider using it?

(Consider this a "proactive" law school innovation post!)

- Gene Koo

July 9, 2007 in Teaching -- curriculum | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Colorado's Wise Law Library Podcasts Legal Research Lectures

Scott Matheson, Alan Pannell and Alicia Brillon, University of Colorado's Wise Law Library, have made their 1L legal research lectures (Fall 2006 Semester) available via an RSS feed along with Scott Matheson's Advanced Legal Research course lectures (Spring 2007 Semester) which are available via iTunes and an RSS feed. Check it out. Great resources for students. -- Joe Hodnicki

July 9, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack