January 26, 2012

CALI Offering Free Open Online Course on Digital Law Practice

The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) is once again pushing the envelope in legal education by offering law faculty, law students, and lawyers an opportunity to participate in a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled Topics in Digital Law Practice. This free, online, 9 week course is open to all with live sessions held on Friday afternoons beginning Friday, February 10, 2012 at 2 PM ET. 

From the course website:

This course is designed to provide an overview of the changes that are occurring in the practice of law today, especially with respect to technology. It will introduce law students for real-world situations that they will encounter in the job market and point law professors to new avenues to cover in their courses.

The course will run for one hour a week for nine weeks and will feature a different guest speaker each week. Each class will be delivered via webcast and will have a 30 minute lecture presentation followed by a question & answer period and an online, interactive homework assignment for all course students to complete. There will be no formal assessment like midterms or a final exam.

The audience for this seminar is primarily law students and law faculty who will be given priority. Anyone else can join the course for one or all of the sessions. The presentations will be recorded and posted to the course blog.

Registration for this course is required.

 

-- Elmer R. Masters
Full disclosure: I am CALI's Director of Internet Development

January 26, 2012 in Announcements, Electronic Education, Technology -- in general, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 18, 2012

SOPA Teach-In

No blackout, but a teach-in in lieu thereof:

 

Some thoughtful comments on SOPA:

 

Mark Lemley, David Levine & David Post--Stanford Law Review Online--Don't Break the Internet.

EFF, Stop the Internet Blacklist Legislation

Mozilla et al Letter on SOPA

Law Professors' Letter in Opposition to SOPA (I signed the letter)

TechDirt's Mike Masnick, Open Letter to Chris Dodd

 

Floyd Abrams' testimony in defense of the Protect IP Act

Anupam Chander

January 18, 2012 in Electronic Education | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 13, 2011

The importance of appreciating (and teaching) iPad realities for lawyers and law students

I am at a great session (on a Sunday morning!) of the Appellate Judges Education Institute concerning modern brief writing and reading in our digital age.  The biggest take-away is that the iPad has become a "game-changer" in part because already perhaps as many as half of all appellate judges nationwide are at least sometimes reading briefs on an iPad and because it seems likely that soon all judges will read most briefs on screens.  

This sessions is reinforcing my belief that law schools should be looking for ways to intergrate iPads and/or other e-readers into their skills curriculum.  Notably, a Ninth Circuit judge on reported that his circuit is providing all its judges with iPads, and I strongly believe it should be only a matter of time before some clever law schools (and/or law publishers) figure out the opportunities and advantages that might flow from giving groups of students pre-programmed e-readers with specialized applications and/or content.

Some related prior posts:

 Posted by DAB

November 13, 2011 in Electronic Education, Teaching -- pedagogy, Technology -- in general, Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 02, 2011

What technologies (other than e-casebooks) can or will transform legal education?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this notable commentary discussing some new tech ideas in the field of K-12 education.  The piece by Jonathan Alter is headlined "Robo-Truant Tech And Other Apps To Fix Education," and here is a snippet:

The education reform movement is at an important juncture. It will either peter out in platitudes or advance based on a new consensus.  At this week's Education Nation conference in New York City, I came away with some hope for the latter. My cautious optimism is rooted in two Ts -- technology and transparency....

Even if they cordially despise each other, reformers and traditionalists will now have to work together to implement the new accountability laws enacted in the past few years in about a dozen states. One way to do so is by embracing smart new technology.

For years, faddish tech fixes like computers in the classroom have yielded few results. But that could be changing.  One of the most intriguing parts of Education Nation was the Innovation Challenge, a contest with shades of Donald Trump's show, "The Apprentice." Three young innovators presented their ideas on stage to a panel of judges moderated by Tom Brokaw:

Classdojo.com uses a competitive point system (always popular with students) to enable teachers to better handle the behavioral problems that so often impede learning.  The idea is to build character by rewarding teams of students who work together to stay on task and avoid disruptions.  Technology can't substitute for a teacher's class-management skills. But with as much as half of class time consumed by dealing with disruptive kids, it can help....

Classdojo won the $75,000 prize.  Even if this and other 2011 innovations flop, we're edging closer to the era when technology finally changes what is essentially a 19th-century system of education.  In science, paradigm shifts follow technological breakthroughs. Education won't be any different. 

Regular readers know I have been saying for quite some time that e-readers will eventually transform the traditional casebook model for legal education, and the popularity of the iPad and the forthcoming Kindle Fire reinforce my views on this front.  But I am wondering, and truly hoping, that there will be other technological innovation and/or breakthroughs that further revamp legal education for the 21st century.  Anyone bold enough to make predictions about what those innovations might be?

Some related prior posts:

 Posted by DAB

October 2, 2011 in Electronic Education, Teaching Resources, Technology -- in general, Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 13, 2010

Supreme Court Justices are now doing work on iPads and Kindles, when will law students?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this new video from a portion of a C-SPAN interview with new Justice Elena Kagan. The video is titled "Justice Kagan on Using a Kindle to Read Briefs," and in the segment Justice Kagan reports on how she uses the Kindle to read all the SCOTUS briefs, and also discusses that Justice Scalia has his briefs on an iPad. (Hat tip: How Appealing.)

In a series of prior posts about technology and legal education, I have suggested that the advancement of new reading technologies will at some point transform legal education. I articulated the point this way in this post after first seeing the iPad in action earlier this year:

[A] casebook-friendly e-tablet is only the tip of the new media iceberg that could be facilitated by an iPad or some other tablet that becomes to casebooks what the iPod became to vinyl records.  Of course, just as record companies (and some artists) resisted music being packaged and distributed via new media, casebook publishers (and some authors) may resist legal materials being packaged distributed via new media.  But, as the iPod and the DVR and other digital innovations have demonstrated, a better means to distribute content digitally will eventually prevail over analog precursors.  The iPad may not prove to be the casebook tipping-point technology, but it seems to me to be only a question of when, not whether, the traditional casebook will go the way of vinyl records and VCR tapes.

When traveling to speak at various conferences, I have noticed more and more lawyers with iPads and other e-readers. I expect that buzz about the Justices reading briefs on e-readers might add even more juice to the on-going digital revolution in the collection and distribution of legal materials.  And if law schools do not get with the program soon, I fear we will be doing even worse than usual in training the next generation of lawyers.

Posted by DAB

December 13, 2010 in Electronic Education, Legal profession realities and developments, Technology -- in general, Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 25, 2010

Official law school resources or unofficial law student help: is there an app for that?

I know that there are a fair number of interesting "apps" for a fair number of legal resources.  (Many of these apps can be located via The Law Pod, which "specializes in legal reference software for smartphones and web devices.")  In addition, via the terrific blog iPhone J.D., I have seen reviews of various traditional law-school commercial services turned into apps (such as BARBRI and Law in a Flash).

But I have yet to see any law school develop its own official app for its students (and prospective students), nor have I seen any truly creative apps developed by entrepunrial lawyers or law students for the law student marketplace.  Just as all law schools (and many law students) now have intricate (and sophisticated?) websites on which law school resources and promotional materials often reside, I suspect it may be only a matter of time before apps become a more common part of law school life. 

I wonder if any law school is thinking about trying to raise its profile through the development of an app for its students or as a distinctive means to promote its faculty and programs.  Gosh knows that the development of a clever law-school app seems like it would be a much better use of promotional resources than producing and distributing all the hard-copy law porn I find in my faculty mailbox (which gets quickly relocated to my faculty trash can, often within a matter of seconds).

Posted by DAB

October 25, 2010 in Electronic Education, Technology -- in general, Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2010

How an iPad (or an even better e-tablet) could transform legal education

My old pal Anupam in this post expresses skepticismabout whether the (soon to be in stores) iPad could transform law school.  This skepticism is justified if the iPad is merely just a mini-laptop without a keyboard.  But if the iPad is ultimately a "better" e-reader and a "better" media player than any existing device --- or whenever someone produces an affordable e-tablet with a great e-reader and media functionality --- then it will only be a matter of time before such a device helps speed the demise of the living dinosaur that is the traditional law school casebook.

The traditional law school casebook has all the analog features of vinyl records and VCR tapes that made them very popular and useful until a better digital version came along.  Except vinyl record and VCR tapes were easy to carry around and got cheaper over time.  In contrast, casebooks weigh a ton and new ones now often cost more than $150 each.  I suspect the average law student spends at least $1000 each year on casebooks, with little to take away from these costs other than a sore back.  I suspect most law students would jump at the chance to instead spend, say, $750 on a slick new e-tablet device with course materials pre-loaded that could serve as a professional resource even after a course is completed.

Further, imagine if digital course materials could effectively incorporate media other than words through links and embedded pictures and videos.  Con law materials could include audio from oral arguments in famous cases; crim pro materials could include video of Terry stops and custodial interrogations; IP materials could include film clips and pictures of patented devices; and so on and so on.  And, of course, these materials could be effectively and cost-efficiently supplemented and updated when new cases or laws come down the pike.

And, ideally, a great e-tablet would facilitate electronic note-taking by students in an e-window right next to the course materials.  And students could, ideally, create their own links in their notes to related primary materials or outlines (whether commercial or prepared by fellow students).  And faculty could, ideally,  integrate their own tablet-friendly syllabi and supplemental teaching materials with other electronic case materials.  And, of course, these materials could be easily searched via a find command in a way that no index or other hard-copy resource can be search. 

This appealing vision of a casebook-friendly e-tablet is only the tip of the new media iceberg that could be facilitated by an iPad or some other tablet that becomes to casebooks what the iPod became to vinyl records.  Of course, just as record companies (and some artists) resisted music being packaged and distributed via new media, casebook publishers (and some authors) may resist legal materials being packaged distributed via new media.  But, as the iPod and the DVR and other digital innovations have demonstrated, a better means to distribute content digitally will eventually prevail over analog precursors.  The iPad may not prove to be the casebook tipping-point technology, but it seems to me to be only a question of when, not whether, the traditional casebook will go the way of vinyl records and VCR tapes.

I have an inkling that co-blogger Ellen Podgor is on the same e-page with me on this front, but I would like to hear what others think via additional posts or comments.

March 22, 2010 in Electronic Education, Teaching Resources, Technology -- in the classroom, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 27, 2010

Could the iPad help transform law school and even lawyering?

Jobsx-wide-community It has taken me only a few minutes to decide that I now want and need an iPad, though I am fearful (or perhaps hopeful) that the new Apple gizmo will be much better for reading blogs than for writing them.

Also, I am also already thinking about whether an iPad and other forthcoming similar e-tablet technologies might alter the resource and technology universe for lawyers, law professors and law students. 

I have never tried to do any kind of legal research or legal writing on my Droid smartphone, and I suspect that there are relatively few smartphone apps that are truly helpful to the average lawyer or law student.  In addition, I have been disappointed by the potential for my first-generation Kindle to be a means or medium for me to do professional reading of cases and other legal materials.  The Apple folks are touting the iPad as having some of the best aspects of modern e-readers and modern netbooks.  If this is true, I can readily imagine the possibility of an iPad with applications that are especially lawyer-friendly and lawyer-useful.

Thoughts, dear readers?  Is anyone (other than me) eager to read this blog on an iPad?

(Cross-posted at SL&P)

January 27, 2010 in Blogging by lawyers and law professors, Electronic Education, Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 26, 2009

Great new free resource from CALI: the Legal Education Commons

CON47-presents I was pleased to get this news via e-mail from the folk at CALI:

I wanted to let you know about a new CALI resource that may be of interest to your blog readers called the Legal Education Commons.  Really, LEC is the first step toward the completion of another CALI project with which you and some of your readers may be somewhat familiar: eLangdell.

A lot more details about the can be found in this press release. Here is how the press release begin:

Starting today, legal educators will have the capability to search, make use of, and share more legal educational materials than ever before. The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (“CALI”), in collaboration with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, is launching an open, searchable collection of resources designed specifically for use in legal education: a “Legal Education Commons” (“LEC”).

“All teachers of law have materials and notes they use in teaching,” says John Mayer, CALI Executive Director. “Many freely share their materials with colleagues, but there has never been a singular searchable, taggable space to serve that function for the entire legal academy,” he explains, “until now.” The LEC is available online at www.cali.org/lec.

The Legal Education Commons launches with over 700,000 federal court decisions readily available to its users. This initial collection of cases from public.resource.org makes the LEC one of the largest gatherings of case law freely available in one place under a creative commons license.

CALI has also donated 300 original illustrations from its popular online tutorials, “CALI Lessons,” making the Legal Education Commons the first and largest pool of free images designed specifically for use in legal education.

Posted by DAB

January 26, 2009 in Electronic Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 30, 2008

Future of the Law School Coursebook wrapup

Coverage of the event in the local press and by John Palfrey. Also: Chronicle of Higher Education.

My own takeaways:

Audio recording of the first session

Audio recording of the seciond session

Audio recording of the third session

Audio recording of the fourth session


- Gene Koo

September 30, 2008 in Conferences, Electronic Education, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2008

Liveblogging the Future of the Law School Casebook workshop part 4

This final segment of the workshop, excepting dinner, asks participants, "Where do we go from here?" Ron Collins now believes "the future is only across the street" -- it is not that far away, if we can collaborate.

Specific ideas after the jump.

Official notes for session 4

September 27, 2008 in Conferences, Electronic Education, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Liveblogging the Future of the Law School Casebook workshop part 3

Matt Bodie is moderating a discussion on "Competing Online Architectural Formats: advantages and disadvantages." One of the big elephants in the room regards intellectual property and what the role of the professor will (and won't) be in that future.

Take the jump with me here...

Susan Case describes making her book available for free on the Web, which has become incredibly popular and led to speaking invitations, etc.

Daniel Albohn (Sony) is demoing our submitted memos on the Sony Reader. Why is the screen so small? Maybe take a look at the iRex iLiad.

Skover: before recepticles become useful, we need to answer -- what kind of platform do we want to have for containing these digital packages.

Joel Thierstein: what's our ethical obligation to make our content open?

David Vladeck wonders how many law professors expect to make money from casebooks? Leslie Levine (West) responds that the motivating force seems instead to be (usually) about getting information out there and

John Palfrey suggests dividing up the analysis into three pieces: (1) the authoring; (2) the platform; (3) the recepticle. We should design a system that is at least dual-purpose -- (a) for students, and (b) enable a standard mode of copyright transfer.

JP's suggestion strongly seconded by Ron Collins. Imagine a platform that allows both proprietary and open information available for remixing. This need not be a war between those who want to give it away and those who seek some renumeration for their work.

I noted that in addition to fiscal renumeration, authors will want reputational returns as well.

John Mayer: www.eLangdell.org. How about creating a pool of money to pay authors to create texts, just as CALI does with lessons? over to Joel...Connexions likewise has a teaching commons, with CC-attribution that allows for collaboration with publishers. back to John... What about SSRN as a source of teaching resources? How about Connexion's model of buying a statistics textbook, funded by a foundation, that now is being remixed by professors and potentially even published at a price.

Craig (Concord) -- frustrated that the technology is all there. Why must we re-invent the wheel because the publishers and appliance manufacturers are "tying our hands" because they want to be the only platform.

Some confusion now arising over what "open source" means -- distinguishing open access from open source.

Heidi Hellekson (West) is responding to the question, pointing out that they've been heavily pushing DRM. [ This didn't seem to be the actual demand from the audience ]. Leslie (Lexis) points out that they are not stopping independent authors from self-publishing; John Chatelaime (Aspen) adds that the academy -- the authors -- need to start releasing their rights. Third-party copyright holders have presented a major obstacle.

JP is describing Harvard's open access initiative and repository (see also Duke et.al.) to alleviate this problem on the production side.

David Skover argues that professors should start asserting their market power to keep their copyright. Bill McCoy (Adobe) notes that the larger publishing industry is getting over these problems -- deal.

Kraig -- we're both the licensor and licensees -- can't we join these interests here?

Greg Silverman -- content production today can be quite complicated with many collaborations; don't underestimate the expense of such.

Why not just collect links to cases, articles? The cases are out there, but the editing-down is a clear value-add. (But is it enough?)

Paula Lustbader wants to know what the law students are doing -- are they reading the articles? notes? cases? Steve Friedland suggests we add these questions to our end-of-class surveys.

Do students demand it in electronic format? Conrad: They want something they can own, control -- and if we experiment, we can learn from their reactions.

Official writeup of Session 3

September 27, 2008 in Conferences, Electronic Education, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Liveblogging the Future of the Law School Casebook workshop part 2

Part 2, moderated by David Skover, is "The Printed Casebook & Its Print/Electronic Alternatives: advantages & disadvantages in content & delivery systems." We broke into four groups loosely discussing these topics without any formal structure. Summary notes of each groups reportback follows the jump...

First group: Is every change positive? How is the Bar driving how schools teach? Disagreement between preparing for the Bar vs. other teaching goals. How do you handle assessment tools? What are the forces driving innovation -- probably it's convenience, not pricing. Don't dichotomize between print and electronic -- it's a continuum.

Second group: What's wrong with the casebook? Lacks flexibility, customizability, doesn't take advantage of new media. What will it look like? Probably not a purely open database because newer professors want some structure -- more a set of modules that would represent a course. What role does the publishing industry have in this future? Creation, marketing, distribution?

Third group: Books are just a modality -- form of what we're creating (books) isn't intrinsic but a practicality. Impediments -- law schools' reward structure not geared towards creativity of teaching.

Fourth group: "Flexibility" -- how to give teachers maximum flexibility for designing, using content in the classroom. Would require a production team, law profs, technologists, instructional designers. How to disaggregate to obtain optimal granularity: (1) instructional design -- should correlate to learning objectives; (2) authoring systems -- should be separate from the delivery system, allowing multi-channel distribution; (3) delivery system -- make it optimal for class, or even individual students; (4) business model -- preference for open source but accommodating of commercial units, a payment model that would be consistent between the two.

Subsequent discussion points:

Official notes for session 2


September 27, 2008 in Conferences, Electronic Education, Teaching -- pedagogy, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 23, 2008

Workshop on the Future of the Legal Course Book

This Saturday, Seattle University School of Law is hosting a workshop on the future of the legal course book. According to the official description,

Among other questions, the workshop sessions will consider: (1) What fundamental changes in legal education are necessary, and how might such changes best be made at the national level? (2) How do the traditional curriculum and casebook constrain any such reform efforts? (3) What viable alternatives are there to the traditional print casebooks, as far as content and delivery systems are concerned? (4) What are the advantages and disadvantages of competing infrastructural designs for electronic delivery systems (including closed-source vs. open-source architecture) and the electronic devices for receiving and viewing such materials?

A lot of great memos have gone back and forth among the participants. I thought I'd share my submission here in in PDF form. Text of the post follows after the jump

Memorandum on Preliminary Thoughts:
Workshop on the Future of the Legal Course Book

Networked computing provides new capabilities to law teachers that remain largely unrealized. I categorize these into three broad areas:

1. Experience, as opposed to knowledge

2. Collaboration, as opposed to exclusivity

3. Relationships, as opposed to information

1. 1. Experiential learning

Computers are doing for systems what the printing-press did for information: provide a scalable method of distribution. The upshot for educators is that while books convey information to enable students to develop knowledge, computer-driven simulations convey systems to enable students to have experiences. And experiential learning has become an emerging best practice in today’s pedagogy.

Books, and the information they convey, will remain critical for establishing a baseline of knowledge and the ways of “thinking like a lawyer” that we cherish. Our challenge as educators is to enable our students to take the next step and integrate that knowledge into the professional strategies, behaviors, habits, and values that constitute modern legal practice.

Until recently, legal educators who wanted to provide students with learning experiences were obligated to do the work by hand: write the materials, play the roles, and most burdensome of all, manage the logistics. Like monks transcribing texts, their work was valuable but never scalable.

Video games demonstrate the power of computers to convey first-person experiences rather than third-person stories or disconnected facts. Computer-managed simulations will allow law professors to offer students legal practice experiences that were previously inaccessible:

By “computer simulation” I don’t necessarily mean fully-rendered 3D virtual worlds. When you consider the virtual world of a typical law firm, much of it exists within the boundaries of email, the Web, and EDGAR/Lexis/Westlaw. The kind of virtual reality required for this type of simulation would entail those worlds, not necessarily a 3D “World of Warcraft” knockoff. Of course, the technology required for any given simulation depends on the kind of experience desired.

2. 2. Collaborative authorship

Digital media have exposed the core limitations of paper-bound books. We begin to realize that casebooks are arbitrary dips out of the larger pool of knowledge. That larger pool has eluded us because the costs of distributing the entirety of the pool in using paper have been too high.

Casebook1

It is more accurate to imagine existing paper casebooks as professors scattered on at least two axes – how they approach the law and how they teach – and clustered around casebooks:

Conversations with casebook adopters reveal that this clustering is often arbitrary and rarely efficient. Most admit, even the authors themselves, admit that every casebook winds up being a massive compromise across different constituents.

Casebook2 Instead it seems more accurate to describe the set of professors teaching any given subject as a community, networked through personal and professional relationships:

And while a small subset of the community have taken it upon themselves to author casebooks – sometimes for the money, but most of the time for other motives, not least of which is altruism – most professors are “micro-authoring” every semester whenever they create coursepacks to supplement those books when they are incomplete, inadequate, or outdated. Indeed, some have simply abandoned casebooks for coursepacks altogether.

Before the Internet, it was prohibitively expensive to share coursepacks, leading to much wheel-reinvention. Some professors now use listservs as an ad hoc solution. What’s desperately needed is a platform with the following features:

· A means to share materials with colleagues

· A means to find and remix materials to create custom coursepacks, including export to digital and paper formats

· A system to authenticate authors and their reputations

· A system to evaluate and credential materials and collections of materials

· A business model to keep this system sustainable both for the entire system and the individual authors within it.

3. 3. Relational learning

Peer learning is critical to most law students’ success. Study groups play a storied role in the law school experience, yet law schools provide little support for them. E-casebooks present new potential spaces for these groups – less because they are digital than because they are networked.

Whereas e-books and e-book device readers like the Kindle present certain physical capabilities, such as instant downloading/updating, lighter-weight packages, and almost infinitely scalable distribution, they currently lack a key property that made the Web so robust: networking. Rather, the existing Kindle functions more like television: a one-to-many broadcast. This stifles the greatest possibility of digital texts for learning: that they might become platforms for students to learn with each other.

Imagine if a study group could outline a case together, share notes, and answer each others’ questions within the text itself. Imagine if the casebook was as much about the whitespace between words as the words themselves – whitespace for students to do their own teaching and learning.

There is an enormous disjunction between learning materials that are in textbook format (whether paper or digital) and the learning tools that students increasingly rely upon, whether they are “official” tools offered by the school (e.g. Blackboard) or cobbled together ad hoc (e.g. Google Docs, wikis). It may not be that the e-casebook platform itself offers these new capacities – the beauty of Web 2.0 is allowing content to “exist” in different “places” – so long as they are open and permeable, preferably to as much experimentation as possible.

Many students want to learn in community together – study groups are mostly voluntary. We need learning materials flexible enough to bend to unforeseen uses that today’s students will inevitably invent if given the chance.

September 23, 2008 in Conferences, Electronic Education, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 26, 2008

On-line innovations from New York Law School

Professor Michael Perlin of the New York Law School sent along this interesting report on an expanding innovation at his institution:

This fall, New York Law School will be offering four courses from the  nine-course array of  its online, distance learning curriculum.  Courses combine streaming videos, readings, weekly synchronous chat rooms (meaning, class meets at 8:45 on Monday night, say, but you can be home in your pajamas or at a coffee shop, not in Room A 602), asynchronous message boards and two full day live face-to-face seminars (in which skills issues are always emphasized). We've been offering these courses since 2000, and have grown the program this year from six to nine courses (about which we are very excited). Courses to be offered this fall (with chat room times listed) are these:

  • Survey of Mental Disability Law (Monday, 8:45-10 pm)
  • Sex Offenders (Tuesday, 8:45-10 pm)
  • Therapeutic Jurisprudence (Wednesday, 8:45-10 pm)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act: Law, Policy and Procedure (Thursday, 8:45-10 pm)

The courses are open to law students and to attorneys (CLE is available), and are also appropriate for mental health professionals, advocates, and activists.

Currently, NYLS has formal partnerships with Southern University Law Center, Gonzaga Law School, Concord Law School, and McGeorge Law School; however, students from other law schools are encouraged to enroll for these courses as well.

For more information, please visit the website www.nyls.edu/mdl (scope notes for each course can be found at this link), or write for details to Liane Bass, Esq., senior administrator of the program (liane.bass@nyls.edu). Registration is now open for all courses.

July 26, 2008 in Electronic Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack