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April 19, 2010

How could/should Apple (or other tech companies) partner with a law school to foster e-casebooks?

I explained in this post last month why I believe that the iPad --- or any other new affordable e-tablet with a great e-reader and media functionality --- could and should help speed the demise of the living dinosaur that is the traditional law school casebook.  I now have an iPad, and both the significant potential for, and the significant challenges of, an e-reader replacing the traditional casebook has become even more clear.

First, though the iPad is not (yet?) a perfect product, it is an extraordinary "consumption" device.  Accessing information in e-books and through websites is easy and beautiful, and the iPad is convenient and portable and conversation-friendly in ways that cannot be readily described.  Moreover, I sense that the iPad could (perhaps with a well-designed app) facilitate the kind of effective multi-tasking consumption that lawyers and law students might especially appreciate --- e.g., having a SCOTUS case and an outline or law review article or draft brief pulled up for reading side-by-side.

Second, the iPad does not (yet?) feel like an effective "production" device.  Though perhaps others will get in the habit of composing memos and briefs on the iPad, the traditional keyboard and screen-size of a desktop or laptop are likely to remain my chosen tool for composing documents and blog posts and even longer e-mails.

In light of these realities, and the fact that traditional law school casebooks (and also the traditional hornbook and comercial outline and law review) are merely static (and costly) consupmtion devices, I still think the iPad or another new affordable e-tablet could become a serious playing in the law school educational marketplace.  But I do not think it is (yet?) a replacement for a laptop, and I also think it will be essential in the short-term for both tech producers and legal consumers to forge an effective partnership to facilititate making the iPad or another new affordable e-tablet something of value in the law school arena.

Ellen's post yesterday noting that some universities already stuggling with iPad-friendliness not only prompted my post, but it especially inspired the question in the heading to this post.  I am wondering what a tech company might do (or what a law school might ask a tech company to do) in order to help make the iPad or another new affordable e-tablet the must-have new tech item for the next generation of law students.

April 19, 2010 in Electronic Education, Technology -- in general, Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink

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