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August 16, 2007

What to do the first day of class...

Every prof has their own style, of course. Some barely show up the first day, while others keep the class late. Still others seek to use the first day to define the students' feelings about the class (ie, fear). From what I have seen, there are three basic ways to approach the first day of class in college or graduate school (the second of which is the one I have usually chosen):

1) The Traditional Method.

Hand out the syllabus. Intone some elementary rules for class. Perhaps introduce self and others. End early. Admittedly, this bare-bones approach has some advantages-- especially at schools where people are class-shopping early in the quarter.

2) The Special Method.

Introduce themes of the class in a dynamic way. Illustrate with stories. Use some reading to make the point. Call on students to help them define the broad messages of the class. End on time.

3) The Regular-Day Method.

Treat the first day the same as every other day-- use readings and call on students to cover the first full day of doctrinal material. End on time or a little late.

-- Mark Osler

August 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 14, 2007

Innovations 2007/2008

What innovations is your law school offering this year? Do you find innovation in teaching, classrooms, building, or student activities such as law reviews? This coming year here at UC Davis, flat screen monitors will announce that day's events at the law school. This last year, students here at UC Davis organized a trip to the border over Spring Break to report on border enforcement and immigration firsthand. Are student groups planning innovative projects for the coming year? Anupam Chander

August 14, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 13, 2007

Electronic Education # 5 - Size of Class

Just returned from the Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning in Madison Wisconsin where I had the pleasure of doing a program with Deborah Brown, Stetson's Associate Vice President for Legal Affairs and Human Resources, on the topic of "Legal and Practical Considerations in Developing and Effectuating Online Courses." 

One item mentioned in one of the session's I attended, and something I also discussed with others, was how many students work best in an online electronic education class.  Clearly in this setting, the size of the class is very important.  Others stated that the class size working best for them was between 12-20 students. I personally found 10 too few and 23 too many. I have found classes with 12 and 17 students to work well. If you go higher than 20 consider breaking it into 2 classes or into groups. If it is too small, the instructor can have problems keeping the discussion going. I also found that if the class size is too small it places too much work on the students. In contrast, too many students in the class makes the discussion difficult and does not provide students with a sufficient voice in the discussion.  Obviously, the specific course and technology used in the online course may make a difference in determining the optimal class size.

-- Ellen S. Podgor

August 13, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Student Blogging

Professor Jim Taylor, Visiting Clinical Supervisor at University of Montana last semester writes -

"Last summer I attended a conference that CALI put on in Chicago about using law students and technology to improve access to justice for low income citizens.  Out of that I began teaching a course on Public Interest Lawyering.  The writing requirement for the students is a daily blog about public interest law issues.  There are twelve students in the class, and I divided them into 6 teams.  Each team chose a topic to write on.  One week a team member will write and the other will edit, and the next week the one that wrote will then edit.  In addition the class has begun preparing videos for the local justice court on how to file a pro se complaint in a civil case."

For details on what was posted by the students, check out the site here.

- - Ellen S. Podgor

August 13, 2007 in Teaching -- new courses | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack