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March 7, 2009

An early report from the folks of LEARN (Legal Education Analysis & Reform Network)

This past week I received a copy of an e-mail from the Steering Committee of LEARN (Legal Education Analysis & Reform Network) describing their project and early activities. Here is the start of the e-mail with a link to the group's first product:

Two years ago, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching published its report on legal education, entitled Educating Lawyers.  Since that time, based on the high level of interest the report generated within the legal academy, the Foundation has joined with a group of law schools and law faculty to engage in further efforts to encourage reflection and innovation in legal education.  Working with Stanford Law School, the Foundation has assembled a group of legal educators from ten law schools which had expressed particular interest in working on this phase of the project. (The ten schools are CUNY, Dayton, Georgetown, Harvard, Indiana-Bloomington, New Mexico, NYU, Southwestern, Stanford, and Vanderbilt.)  The overall project has been named LEARN, which stands for Legal Education Analysis and Reform Network.  We are writing to inform you about these ongoing efforts.

In December 2007 about 40 legal educators (three from each of the ten law schools identified above and ten other faculty members) met in Palo Alto to discuss strategies for change based on the themes explored in Educating Lawyers and other pedagogical goals.  After two days of meetings, we identified three major themes around which these strategies cluster: (a) the structure of the law school curriculum as a whole; (b) the teaching enterprise as practiced by individual faculty members; and (c) the assessment of student learning.  The participants divided themselves up into working groups to continue articulating and planning ways in which these strategies could be developed and pursued.  (A list of each working group’s members appears in the beginning of the linked LEARN Report.)

After further conversations within and among the working groups, LEARN has now drafted an outline of the initial projects it plans to launch. This outline can be viewed at this link.

The three major themes of emphasis seem just right to me, and I am very much looking forward to learning a lot more from LEARN in the months and years to come.

Posted by DAB

March 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 4, 2009

Interesting report on a laptop ban experiment

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy one can now find this interesting postfrom Eugene Volokh, titled "Results of Student Survey About My No-Laptop-in-Class Experiment."  Linked there is also this memo that Eugene wrote to his faculty about his experience with a laptop ban.  Eugene provide a lot of interesting and useful information and insights through his post and memo.

I personally continue to view complete laptop bans to be a crude, paternalistic and self-serving response by professors to a technology that at least some students genuinely believe enhance their classroom/learning experience.  That said, I have a lot of respect for Eugene's efforts to experiment with such a ban, to share his experiences, and to suggest "best practices." 

I continue to believe and predict that, within a decade or two, law school faculty will adapt teaching styles and goals in ways that will make laptops (and/or some other student-empowering technologies) seem like an essential learning tool instead of a classroom hindrance.  In the meantime, I hope faculty imposing limits on student use of technology in the classroom do so in ways that replicate Eugene's efforts to make the experience thoughtful and productive and educational for everyone.

Some related posts:

Posted by DAB

March 4, 2009 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Advocacy as scholarship

Earlier this week, I was filling out a grant application which covered "research for scholarly purposes."  It defined such research as going towards "truths not yet discovered."  Eventually, I set the application aside, since the truth I was researching was already known to me.  That is, what I was working on was a piece advocating a specific change in the law to address an injustice.  I knew the injustice existed; what I needed to research was the best way to change it.

Is an advocacy piece like mine legitimate scholarship? 

-- Mark Osler

March 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack