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May 6, 2009

Who will get the first e-book into the law school classroom?

Thanks to this post by Jonathan Alder at Volokh, I see from this article that Case Western Reserve University will soon have students in certain classes getting their their textbooks via the Amazon Kindles.   This Wall Street Journal report explains that Amazon "on Wednesday plans to unveil a new version of its Kindle e-book reader with a larger screen and other features designed to appeal to periodical and academic textbook publishers."  Here's more:

Beginning this fall, some students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland will be given large-screen Kindles with textbooks for chemistry, computer science and a freshman seminar already installed, said Lev Gonick, the school's chief information officer. The university plans to compare the experiences of students who get the Kindles and those who use traditional textbooks, he said.

The new device will also feature a more fully functional Web browser, he said.  The Kindle's current model, which debuted in February, includes a Web browser that is classified as "experimental."  Five other universities are involved in the Kindle project, according to people briefed on the matter. They are Pace, Princeton, Reed, Darden School at the University of Virginia, and Arizona State.

Here at Law School Innovation, we have been talking about the Kindle and other e-readers in the law school classroom for nearly two years already (see 2007 posts here and here and here).  From the get-go, I have never doubt that e-books would eventually take over the law-school classroom.  Because of the extraordinary costs and inconveniences of traditional law school casebooks, the issue iin my view has always been, not whether e-books become common, but rather just when and exactly how they will enter the law school classroom.

Cross-posted at SL&P (by DAB)

May 6, 2009 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink


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The earliest ebook in legal education I know of is 1994. The paper tells the story. CALI has been publishing Professor Bill Boyd's ebook for almost 10 years now (CANINE - Complete Article Nine). http://www2.cali.org/index.php?fuseaction=lessons.lessondetail&lid=507

Posted by: John Mayer | May 7, 2009 1:01:37 PM

Here's the link to the 1994 paper. http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=ronald_staudt

Posted by: John Mayer | May 7, 2009 1:02:54 PM

I used a digital statute book in both of my classes this spring. What's the big deal?

Posted by: Steve Bradford | May 8, 2009 10:58:29 AM

I love my Kindle2 but recently took it on a trip, the wife dropped her iPhone on it from the plane seat next to me. Not a long fall, probably 2 feet at most, it broke the monitor which means the Kindle2 was useless for a 10 day trip. It also means I'm now out $350. A law student would have no textbooks until they could order a replacement (and scrounge up $350 for it).

I love the Kindle, but I'm not sure I'd risk it if I were a lawstudent again.

Posted by: BarristersHandshake | May 24, 2009 7:57:11 PM

I've been taking this into my own hands for 3 years. Having just graduated from Pace in NY, I cut the binding on almost all of my texts, and ran them through a high speed duplex scanner, right into pdf. That, and using a program like pdf annotater & a tablet pc make for a great experience on having fewer things to lug around. Pace is doing a pilot with the Kindle on the undergrad and I am hoping the Law School and law schools around the country follow suit. There is just no need for the forced paper at this point.

Posted by: John McCarron | Jun 10, 2009 1:06:08 AM

"A law student would have no textbooks until they could order a replacement "

Unless the book and student-written annotations lived in "the cloud."

Posted by: ceejay | Jan 11, 2010 5:44:57 PM

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