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December 26, 2007

Advances in Book-Hauling Technologies

Gene's post on the likely failure of the Kindle within law schools was spot-on, unfortunately.  It seems that the most important technological advances relating to law books is in the devices to carry them.

When I began teaching seven years ago, I was surprised to find the students flooding into school dragging wheeled suitcases.  It looked like a flight attendant convention.  The functionality of those wheeled bags became clear, though, once I saw others staggering with gigantic and fully-laden backpacks.  The wheeled cubes were made possible by the development of rubber in-line skate wheels, which were eventually adapted for use with luggage.  Thus far, these skate wheels are probably the most successful technology we have relating to textbooks.

We provide lockers at school, but the students take nearly everything home with them to complete all of their reading.  Each one of these pack animals, I imagine, represents a failure of technology.  If not the Kindle, then what?  Is part of the problem our current expensive process of using large textbooks, only a fraction of which will sometimes be assigned for a given class?  It seems there must be a better way.

-- Mark Osler

December 26, 2007 | Permalink


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Little red wagons.

Posted by: Rick Bales | Dec 28, 2007 8:31:43 AM

Given my still-fairly-recent experience in law school, I think this problem owes to four causes:

1. LAPTOPS. Students haul in their laptop computers, with all related equipment, when they really don't need them. More often than not, reliance on laptop computer hinder classroom education more than it helps.

2. TOO MANY BOOKS. In any given classroom session, the student need not rely on more than one or two books. There's no good reason to drag in everything.

3. BOOKS PER SE. Case books are horribly inefficient for classroom use. In any given classroom session, the professors likely will not cover more than a few dozen pages. If casebooks were bound with binders, students could bring only the few pages they needed.

4. SCHEDULING. Students tend to schedule their classes in blocks, either because they don't want to be on campus long, or because they live far from campus and thus can't go home and return throughout the day.

Posted by: Adam | Dec 28, 2007 3:46:41 PM

I took all my case books to a book bindery and had the bindings cut off. I also had the pages three-hole punched. (Kinkos offers this service.) I then could take the 50-100 pages I needed for the week for each class and put them all in one slim binder. Problem solved. (And, yes, after each final, I threw the casebook where it belonged, in the recycling bin, as soon as I came home).

Posted by: carl | Jan 3, 2008 4:52:38 PM

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