December 7, 2007
Law School Reform and the Carnegie Report
Bill Henderson raises concerns about whether Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (2007)("Carnegie Report") can be a significant catalyst for law school reform because the Carnegie Report fails to offer (1) "a careful assessment of the institutional incentives that have created and perpetuate the current system" and (2) "creative strategies for breaking down or subverting those institutional forces in a way that produces a greater good," both, in his opinion, minimum requirements for systemic reform of legal education. Read more about it at Empirical Legal Studies.
Hat tip to Julie Jones, Law Librarian Blog. -- Joe Hodnicki
December 6, 2007
Berkman + CALI to sponsor blogger events at AALS 2008
CALI and Berkman invite law prof bloggers to two special events at AALS 2008: a private luncheon on blogging and its role in legal education, and an open meetup space in the Exhibition Hall. We're almost out of seats for the lunch, but there's still time to reserve a meetup time slot. Some bloggers have fretted that the meetups will feel like a "bloggers on display" booth, but have no fear: we're setting up the space like a living room, not a "meet the author" receiving line.
I wonder if LSI can team up with PrawfsBlawg and the other school-oriented blogs to host a joint meetup?
December 5, 2007
Harvard Law Library's InfoAdvantage
Harvard Law Library is piloting a way to push specific books, articles, and other resources selected carefully by law librarians directly into each law class's online learning portal. (Sorry to publish a second post about Harvard in one week). Librarians assemble collections of materials into topical bundles that update across all classes -- essentially functioning as learning objects. The basic content is open to all Harvard students.
What I find particularly interesting about this effort is that the librarians are taking the initiative here and letting professors opt out of the program, rather than requiring profs to affirmatively opt in. (They attempted the latter last year and got few responses).
Also worth noting is that the library is using the same platform (a home-grown learning management system called iSites) to serve as a research repository where faculty, assistants, and librarians virtually aggregate research. In many ways, this is potentially pointing the way towards a research management system not unlike those used by litigation teams.
I suspect that Harvard's is not the only law library serving in this capacity, and would love to find out about other, similar initiatives elsewhere.
The web snares "Anonymous"
Like many other schools, Baylor now has a network of interlinked student and professor blogs, some of which survive once a student has crossed over into post-graduate life. One of those blogs is now in the news, in a case which raises interesting questions about free speech and the role of commenters.
The present controversy began at Boots and Sabers, which is run by one of our Baylor Law grads (who was a great student) and a friend of his. It seems that someone posted the following as a comment on Boots and Sabers, and was subsequently arrested:
“Looking at those teacher salary numbers in West Bend made me sick. $60,000 for a part time job were you ‘work’ maybe 5 hours per day and sit in the teachers lounge and smoke the rest of the time. Thanks God we won on the referendum. But whining here doesn’t stop the problem. We’ve got to get in back of the kids who have had enough of lazy, no good teachers and are fighting back. Kids like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold members of the Young Republicans club at Columbine. They knew how to deal with the overpaid teacher union thugs. One shot at a time! Too bad the liberals rip them; they were heroes and should be remembered that way.”
The guy who was arrested for posting this comment is a former teacher's union president named James Buss. Apparently, he thought that posting "anonymously" meant that it couldn't easily be determined who he was. It's surprising how many people make that mistake-- including those who are students or graduates of law school and otherwise are technologically sophisticated.
-- Mark Osler
A VAP innovation from Harvard Law School
Thanks to this post from Orin Kerr at Volokh, I saw this notable piece from the Harvard Law Record , headlined "Dean Starts Program to Boost Practicioners Into Academia," which reports on a new Visiting Assistant Professor (VAP) program in the works at Harvard Law School. Here are the basics:
Dean Elena Kagan has initiated a new program to bring practicing lawyers to Harvard Law School and provide them an opportunity to start careers in academia. While the program is still in its planning stages, Kagan happily met with reporters from the Record to describe the program and her vision for the law school faculty. The program, which is set to begin in the 2008-09 academic year, will bring practitioners who are interested in academia to Harvard for a two-year position, with the tentative title of "Visiting Assistant Professor." These positions will function much like the Climenko and Houston fellowship positions at Harvard Law and fellowships at other schools that are geared towards recent graduates.
As this post at Concurring Opinions highlights, VAP programs are all the rage. Indeed, Paul Caron has this lengthy and growing list of schools that have VAP or fellowship programs for aspiring law professors. To my knowledge, though, the in-development Harvard program is the first that will be intentionally geared toward practitioners.
I suspect this program will end up attracting mostly young practitioners (i.e., folks with only a few years in practice) because of economics and other factors. Still, Dean Kagan merits props for this intriguing new approach to the VAP model.
Intriguingly, the comments to Orin's post really go after the usual anti-practitioner bias reflected in much of the elite law school academy.
Posted by DAB
December 3, 2007
Just Released: The University of Google: Education in the (Post) Information Age
The University of Google is my book of the year for 2007. I have nagged colleagues and friends to read ever since I saw a manuscript copy. It will have a huge impact on everyone in higher education, helping those suspicious of new media to formulate their criticisms and those eager to adopt it better placed to introduce it appropriately. -- Frank Webster, City University London, UK
List Price: $59.95
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Ashgate Pub Co (November 30, 2007)
Book Description: Looking at schools and universities, it is difficult to pinpoint when education, teaching and learning started to haemorrhage purpose, aspiration and function. Libraries and librarians have been starved of funding. Teachers cram their curriculum with 'skill development' and 'generic competencies' because knowledge, creativity and originality are too expensive to provide to unmotivated students and parents obsessed with league tables, not learning.
Meanwhile, the internet offers a glut of information on everything-under-the-sun, a mere mouse-click away. Bored surfers fill their cursors and minds with irrelevancies. We lose the capacity to sift, discard and judge. Information is no longer for social good, but for sale.
Tara Brabazon argues that this information fetish has been profoundly damaging to our learning institutions and to the ambitions of our students and educators. In The University of Google she projects a defiant and passionate vision of education as a pathway to renewal, where research is based on searching and students are on a journey through knowledge, rather than consumers in the shopping centre of cheap ideas.
Angry, humorous and practical in equal measure, The University of Google is based on real teaching experience and on years of engaged and sometimes exasperated reflection on it. It is far from a luddite critique of the information age. Tara Brabazon celebrates the possibilities of digital platforms in education, but deplores the consequences of placing funding on technology and not teachers. In doing so, she opens a new debate on how to make our educational system both productive and provocative in the (post-) information age.
About the author: Tara Brabazon is Professor of Media at the University of Brighton, UK, and Director of the Popular Culture Collective.
-- Joe Hodnicki