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November 22, 2007

When will e-books become a platform for casebooks?

I have just finished reading this week's Newsweek cover story on the new e-book entry, Kindle.  Like Deven Desai at Concurring Opinions, I was intrigued.  Though I am not sure Kindle has the perfect business model or the ideal set of feature, I am sure that something akin to a wireless IPod for books is inevitable.  Many persons are already accustom to getting (and reading) periodical contents on-line.  I think the will to go digital with books already exists, all that's needed is an effective way.  (This recent Computerworld article suggests that Kindle "is the forerunner of a number of limited-purpose wireless devices that are expected to hit the market in the next few years.')

Ever the law geek, I was especially drawn to the idea of some kind of special e-book device to replace traditional casebooks.  Many students surely would pay a lot for one sleek device to replace all of their bulky casebooks, and an ideal device would also enable download of treatises, hornbooks and commercial outlines.  And casebook authors could readily provide integrated updates and supplements more quickly and efficiently than through print hard-copy.

The hiccup, of course, is the traditional casebook market model, which is based on traditional book publishers producing traditional hard-copy casebooks.  However, I sense that electronic content is already starting to break-down the traditional market model.  Here is hoping that publishers might get ahead of the curve by working with some tech companies to make this kind of innovation become a reality relatively soon. 

After learning about Kindle and other e-books in production, I really think the question is not whether, but rather when and how, the traditional casebook will go digital.

Posted by DAB

November 22, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 20, 2007

Fundraising, stasis, and innovation

While reading an excellent article about the need for new UC-Irvine Dean Irwin Chemerinsky to do some fund-raising, I began to think about the interaction between fund-raising and innovation.  Though I would hope that innovation would generally help fund-raising for a law school, I fear that in some instances it may work the other way. 

It would seem that donors would be encouraged to give when they see their school fostering new forms of teaching and scholarship.  It would show the donor that the school is intellectually active and growing.  Perhaps just as importantly, the creation of new professorships, programs, classes, and physical space also creates things to be endowed and named for supportive donors.  For example, a new clinical program might offer two naming opportunities-- one for the the program, and one for the clinical professor hired to run the program.

On the other hand, it would seem that many law school donors are graduates of the school, who often want to see their own experience replicated.  They are attached to established professors and programs, and may be hostile to movements away from a focus on traditional methods.   The danger here is obvious:  That such donors will discourage a school from innovating, as it is no secret that big donors can and do influence many administrative decisions.

To those who have experience in development-- am I right about this two-edged sword?

-- Mark Osler

November 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 19, 2007

Transforming Legal Education: Learning and Teaching the Law in the Early Twenty-First Century

Highly recommended. -- Joe Hodnicki

Transforming Legal Education: Learning and Teaching the Law in the Early Twenty-first Century
by Paul Maharg

List Price: $124.95
Hardcover: 346 pages
Publisher: Ashgate Pub Co (October 31, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0754649709
ISBN-13: 978-0754649700

Book Description: Transforming Legal Education makes the case for substantial change in the ways law is studied.  In a wide-ranging critique of current educational practices in our law schools and in society, the book argues for a contemporary adaptation of John Dewey’s concept of pragmatic and experiential learning, for a wider interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning, and for greater engagement with technology-enhanced learning. 

In Part 1 of the book Maharg argues the case for deeper and more sustained interdisciplinary educational practice, drawing upon problem-based learning, rhetorical theory and practice, and approaches to education in other disciplines such as music and literature.  The book also argues for a more profound understanding of the history of legal education.  In the three case studies that comprise Part 2, Maharg explores three historical episodes in legal educational practice – the formation of the realist curriculum at Columbia in the 1920s; ethical education at Edinburgh University in the later eighteenth century; and thirteenth century glossed texts.  Part 3 consists of an extended case study of technology and experiential learning, incorporating aspects of the approaches analysed in Parts 1 and 2.  Throughout, the book holds that Dewey’s critique of education in his day is still relevant to legal education today.  His solutions, based upon variants of experiential learning, are taken by Maharg and applied in the extended case study of simulation learning in Part 3.  The book’s conclusion states the case for collaboration between legal educational institutions, and for a more experientially-grounded approach to theory and practice; and ends with a hubristic account of several hours of a student’s study time in 2047.

Online Companion Resources: The technological aspects of the book will be updated in the Zeugma blog, while the Transforming Initiative, a platform for those of us who are interested in contributing to the debate about the future of legal education, will be based upon a community of practice wiki. See generally, the book's website.

November 19, 2007 in Recommended readings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack