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May 1, 2008

Seeking information and ideas on innovative final formats

I have long been troubled by the traditional time-pressured, in-class law school final exam format.  In over a decade of teaching, I have always used a take-home format for my upper-level courses: I will often use a  48-hour format if I want some issue-spotting questions and a two-week format if I want more policy/research questions (and I always have strict word limits for each question).

In first-year classes, however, the use of non-traditional exam formats seems to create added stress for students and also creates some additional administrative headaches.  For this reason, I have traditionally used the standard in-class final exam formats for first-year classes (though I have been noticing some colleagues gravitating toward the one-day, eight-hour take home format for more and more 1L classes).

Never content to make things easy, this term in my Spring 1L Legislation course, I decided to try a combined take-home/in-class format (details here).  Though I do not yet know if my students liked this approach (perhaps they will tell me here), I do know that I liked the basic concept of combining the take-home and in-class formats for 1Ls.  I am wondering if anyone else has ever tried this and, more generally, about experiences and ideas concerning truly innovative final formats.

Posted by DAB

May 1, 2008 in Teaching -- pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Innovation from the Dean's Staff

One trend in many schools over the past thirty years has been that growth in the Dean's Office has outpaced hiring in other areas.  In part, this is because the functions of the that office have multiplied, and the Deans themselves are more involved with development than in the past, leaving less time for other activities.

Though some at these schools have decried that growth (especially relative to the size of the faculty), I have noticed that much of the innovation I have seen, especially in the area of technology and student services, has come from the people in those offices.   They see things from a different angle than professors do, and this might allow them to create new ways to serve our consituencies.  For example, many schools (including mine) have revamped orientation, and this has been the work of the Dean's staff.  It might even be said that they are producing more innovation than we professors are, if we are to look at all the functions of the law school as a whole.

-- Mark Osler

May 1, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 28, 2008

Will Palfrey's Appointment Lead to Technological Innovations at HLS?

John Palfrey has been appointed Associate Dean, Library and Information Resources and a tenured professor of law at Harvard Law School. Bios here, here and here. John's name should ring a bell. He is Executive Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and an accomplished author. Among his many works are Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering (MIT Press, 2008)(co-editor and contributor)[Law Librarian Blog post] and Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (with Urs Gasser)(Basic Books, forthcoming August 24, 2008)[Amazon]. About technology in the law school curriculum, see his What is Technology's Role, an op-ed that was published in The National Law Journal on November 8, 2006. -- Joe Hodnicki

April 28, 2008 in Announcements | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack