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June 27, 2007

A lot of new buzz about rankings, though little talk of innovation

Perhaps in part because the summer is the time for admitted law students to decide where they are going, there lately has been lots of new buzz about law school rankings.  For example, the Wall Street Journal has this new article, entitled "Law Schools Also Ranked By Blogs Now," and the WSJ Law Blog has this follow-up post that has generated interesting comments.  Meanwhile, over at the National Law Journal there is this new article, entitled "Law Schools Unlikely to Boycott Magazine Rankings: Fallout from liberal arts boycott of 'U.S. News & World Report' survey minimal."  Disappointingly, I see little discussion of innovation in this coverage of rankings.

Perhaps this blog should start its own ranking of the most innovative law school.  I think my own school  has a number of innovative programs, though I am not sure how exactly I would develop a metric for ranking law school innovations.  Readers are highly encouraged in the comments to (1) suggest ways to assess/measure law school innovation, and (2) nominate particular school for top innovators.

Posted by DAB

June 27, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Virtual Learner Centred Approaches for Diversity in Learning: Recent Experiments With a Blog and Wiki

Walter Baets, Euromed Marseille Ecole de Management, recently deposited in SSRN Virtual Learner Centred Approaches for Diversity in Learning: Recent Experiments With a Blog and Wiki. Here's the abstract for this interesting study:

Co-creation in diversity is today a matter of necessity, not choice. Sustainable value creation cannot be seen independently from the economic culture in which it should blossom. Textbooks and learning approaches are indeed highly context bound. However, different learning approaches, translating cultural diversity, can seriously enrich mutual learning. In this contribution, a different pedagogical model is proposed, that allows not only to host diversity in learning, but even more so that allows to learn from diversity. CoPs (communities of practice) are used as an integral part of the pedagogical model. This model advances the notion of diversity as an asset of outstanding value, within any given economic reality.

-- Joe Hodnicki

June 27, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 26, 2007

Swapping class notes: pedagogical aid or crutch?

At last week's CALI conference, I was surprised at the relatively mellow response to the company SwapNotes at the Law Student Note Sharing session. While several audience members questioned the pedagogical value of swapping notes rather than creating one's own, they appeared to accept SwapNotes founder
Adam Steiner's argument, which boiled down to "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

I'd love reader thoughts on SwapNotes, or any similar service, in your classes. Are students who use it "cheating" (on the class, or themselves)? What are the benefits? Can you see integrating it into the way you teach (for example, by reviewing students' notes to see where they went wrong, as Adam suggests)?

- Gene Koo

June 26, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Perils of Web 2.0 scholarship?

Apropos to the preceding post, a firestorm has been brewing around this proto-article: viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace, which was posted to the author's blog as a non-academic essay. The author, a Ph.D. candidate at UC-Berkeley, muses on the essay's reception, which became amplified partly because the MSM (particularly the BBC) presented it as a data-backed study, which it is not (yet).

It strikes me that the culture of Web 2.0 (prototype and release early, build buzz and community, revise revise revise) is butting up against the culture of academic publishing (print what you can prove, peer review, cite sources). What are the pros and cons of each? On the one hand, putting out hypotheses early and getting lots of feedback and being able to iterate with a large constituency strikes me as a good way to align academic work with public interest and need (and in that respect reflects business's best practices for product development). On the other hand, there's considerable danger of propogating misinformation if the MSM or others treat proto-articles as final works (which they are wont to do, for scooping purposes).

When do you as an academic blogger feel that your work is sufficiently "ripe" to put on your blog? Or do you very carefully delineate between blogging and publishing?

- Gene Koo

June 26, 2007 in Scholarship -- online | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Evaluate Me!: Conflicted Thoughts on Gatekeeping in Legal Scholarship's New Age

Law prof Paul Horwitz has deposited in SSRN 'Evaluate Me!": Conflicted Thoughts on Gatekeeping in Legal Scholarship's New Age. About this work, he writes

This short contribution to the Connecticut Law Review's new online supplement, CONNtemplations, offers some thoughts on status and gatekeeping in the online age of legal scholarship. Bloggers, SSRN, and online law review supplements like this one have increasingly routed around and weakened, if not undermined, the traditional gatekeepers who certified legal scholars and their scholarship. Is this a good thing?

The paper proceeds by examining this question in light of a pair of opposing views and values. The first is Julius Getman's discussion of the eternal tension between elitism and egalitarianism in the life of the scholar. The second is a pair of comments on the role of blogs and other online media in legal scholarship - a positive and optimistic comment by Larry Solum, and a more pessimistic and critical view presented by Brian Leiter. Ultimately, I tend to agree with Solum's optimistic view: the online age has provided new thinkers and writers with multiple routes around the old gatekeepers, and this development should be welcomed.

At the same time, I suggest candidly that many legal scholars who have benefited from blogs and other online media (including myself) have used those new media to seek certification and enhanced status from the same traditional gatekeepers that we have criticized. In Getman's terms, we have talked egalitarianism and done elitism. The old tension continues. I link this tension to a variety of broader phenomena: the insecurity of the legal academic, the legal academy's increasing fixation with rankings, and the economy of prestige.

June 26, 2007 in Scholarship -- online | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2007

Gene Koo, Appointed First CALI-Berkman Research Fellow

Gene Koo has been appointed the first CALI-Berkman Research Fellow effective July 1st. In this position, he will be managing a number of initiatives being developed by the Harvard Law's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). The appointment was announced at the 17th annual CALI Conference on Law School Computing last week in the context of an announcement about an exciting new partnership between these two very influential organizations.

From the press release:

[A]t the 17th annual CALI Conference on Law School Computing, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School and the non-profit Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) proudly announced a new partnership to stimulate innovation in American law schools through a new educational resource sharing platform.  This work will be perpetuated by the establishment of the CALI-Berkman Research Fellowship.

The partnership will establish the Legal Education Commons – known as eLangdell for Harvard Law School’s first Dean and the Law Library’s namesake, Dean Christopher Columbus Langdell – where law faculty can share and use openly-licensed course materials to offer students free or low-cost course packs, casebooks, podcasts, and video.  Berkman and CALI will also research and develop innovative teaching tools to advance practice skills like client interaction, negotiations, and trial advocacy.

Gene is a 2002 graduate of Harvard Law School and a Berkman Fellow. He also helped found Legal Aid University, which provides training and development to poverty lawyers.  Gene's research on the use of technology in legal instruction makes him an excellent choice to lead this new endeavor and being an editor of this blog, I'm sure we will be hearing more about the work of the Berkman-CALI partnership.

Congratulations Gene! -- Joe Hodnicki

June 25, 2007 in Announcements | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack