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

July 14, 2007

Innovator Profile: Prof. Elizabeth Townsend-Gard and Rachel Goda

In spring 2007, Prof. Elizabeth Townsend-Gard (visiting at Seattle U. at the time, now at Tulane; also a Stanford Center for Internet & Society Fellow) used the virtual world Second Life to teach concepts and principles of property to her 1L class. With the assistance of then-2L Rachel Goda, Prof. Townsend-Gard used Second Life as a foil for our real-world experience, exploiting the similarities and differences between our daily physical experience of property and the strange (for newbs, at least) virtual one to shake up assumptions about ownership.

I had this vision... it just struck me that [Second Life] is a really great way to teach property -- that you would have this notion that you're coming from the feudal world, we're in the market world and we are quickly going into the future, into a virtual property world, and wouldn't it be interesting to take 100 1L students into Second Life and see how much modern property law you could find in Second Life. And so I told Rachel this madcap idea, and she said, "I'll help! This sounds great! I would love to do this!"

(Podcast and links after the break.)

"All property is made up," notes Prof. Townsend-Gard, and students came to understand how our property laws came into being through a combination of the laws of physics and custom. (For example, Second Life obviates the need for laws regarding misplaced property because it is coded to return your items to you after a set period of time -- a "law of physics" absent in our real world).

I had the pleasure of interviewing both Prof. Townsend-Gard and Ms. Goda yesterday, and I am offering the audio recording of that conversation for this podcast edition of the LSI blog:

  1. Introductions and an overview of the class
  2. Why virtuality matters and what it means for tomorrow's lawyers
  3. Advice for other teachers who want to use Second Life

Prof. Townsend-Gard blogged her class's experience, or more accurately, posted student work. The blog nicely illustrates the creative and collaborative capacity of law students in the form of video presentations. (I would note that all of the pedagogical value of podcasting applies to these efforts). Several aspects of these presentations could well be expanded to become serious contributions to the study of virtual worlds. Appropriately, Prof. Townsend-Gard also blogged her experience at Terra Nova, the leading blog of virtual world studies:  April 2, April 4, April 23, April 24, April 26. The April 23 post is particularly interesting, as many students who participated in this experimental class submitted comments.

- Gene Koo

July 14, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 06, 2007

Combining MindManager/PowerPoint/Google Picasa in a Classroom

I'm promoting a comment by high school history teacher David Huston to the main page to make sure that it receives its due attention. The comment responds to my earlier complaints on this site about PowerPoint. I've been experimenting with MindManager for the last few months, and have been duly impressed.
I have been using MindManager to "explode" my very long and detailed PowerPoint presentations. I always felt imprisoned by PPt's "linearity". It does indeed "flatten" every point. It allows very little opportunity for spontaneity or framing the various levels and categories of a unit. Mindmanager allows for that. By collapsing and expanding different levels of the map, you can retain the overall structure of the presentation while you simultaneously drill down into the details of a specific part. It's also possible to make connections at a higher order of abstraction using the hierarchical structure of MindManager. This just isn't possible with PPT. I have also come up with a nifty way to gain better control and selectivity of my PPT slides. You might want to try this: I export them as JPEGs to Google's Free photo app Picasa. Then I upload them to Picasa Album on line. Then I create subsets of them in different folders on Picasa. Then I get the URL of my mini-albums, then I create a link in my MindManager map to my Picasa album. Voila! When I am discussing that particular topic, I have the freedom to click the link in MM, and I can either display a selected image or images, or I can chose the option of looking at a linear display of all the slides in an online gallery that Picasa constructs on the fly. BTW,I use a wireless Wacom tablet in class to open and close nodes and open links. Works great. Much easier than being tied to the podium with a PC. I feel like the Wizard in Oz! Also, I post my MindMaps after class for student reference. Since all my links are absolute URLs, ALL my media are accessible to students. MindJet provides a FREE downloadable file viewer for either Macs or PCs. The maps are fully functional--all links work and all nodes expand and collapse. They are not editable files, of course. So, there you have it. Now I control PPT, it doesn't control me! I think I have combined the best of both worlds here. Give it a try and feel free to contact me if you have any questions about how all of this works. PS I am a high school history teacher, not a law professor, so perhaps I have to entertain and amuse my audience a bit more than you guys!
Anupam Chander

July 6, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 27, 2007

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

May 15, 2007

presentation: New Skills & New Learning for Tomorrow's Lawyers

As you all know from earlier posts, I spent the autumn researching legal technology and education, examining how a changing practice environment affects what, and how, law schools should teach. The Berkman Center for Internet & Society, with LexisNexis, published the results as New Skills, New Learning: Legal Education & the Promise of Technology.

I will be presenting these findings and facilitating discussion about what legal educators (and others) can do to respond to emerging challenges at an upcoming Berkman Center luncheon:

Tuesday, May 22
12:30-1:30pm
23 Everett St, Cambridge MA
Webcast
Second Life

Your participation as a law school innovator would be very welcome. Please RSVP if you can attend. Hope to see you next week!

- Gene Koo

May 15, 2007 in Announcements, Teaching -- curriculum, Teaching -- pedagogy, Technology -- in general, Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 17, 2007

Simulations, part 3: how we know what we know

You can't teach what you don't know. Good simulations demand a clearly-articulated framework that describes the learning outcome for participants and enable a teacher to evaluate, using objective criteria, students' progress towards expert practice. And to do that, we need to understand what best practice looks like.

In New Skills, New Learning, I recommend establishing centers for research and innovation, echoing Recommendation F of the MacCrate Report. We are reaching a point in social science when research into practical skills can produce empirical evidence for better and worse ways of doing things. I can't think of any institutions better situated than law schools to carry out that investigation.

Negotiations / ADR is, in most schools, primarily taught through simulations, many of which are on sale at the Harvard Program on Negotiations' Clearinghouse. Supporting this library is an extensive R&D operation that involves continuously researching best practices and refining how effectively their simulations convey those practices as knowledge and the technology of negotiations evolves.

Likewise, Bringham Young University's Larry Farmer and Gerald Williams (law) and Raymond Robinson (dance) have developed a new approach to teaching performative skills like interviewing and counseling (and dance). While the technology is impressive, I'm particularly excited by Farmer's work studying and codifying best practices for the skills of interviewing and counseling:

In the 90s we set up a clinic that I used with my Interviewing & Counseling class, and we watched lawyers come in -- we did that for 8 years, and we debriefed afterwards. I came out of that with a clear understanding of what skills lawyers had, and a substantial understanding of the skills they universally lacked. [The next step was to] conceptualize the process and structure it to control the [harmful] mental states that lawyers have: making assumptions before sufficient data, ignoring client goals and objectives.

Hardnosed, emprical research like this would be ideal building-blocks of a true "American Institute for the Practice of Law." As CLEA recommended in 2005, it is time we revisit and commit to that recommendation.

- Gene Koo

further reading on simulations

April 17, 2007 in Teaching -- pedagogy, Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 06, 2007

Distance Learning # 3

The Southeast Association of Law Schools (SEALS) conference will have two panels this summer on distance education.  Details are here.  The following describes the basic panel:

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Distance Learning But Were Afraid to Ask

Law schools have been reluctant to use computer technologies to offer distance education courses or programs. However, revisions to ABA regulations, decreased technological costs and the creation of distance education consortiums are supporting an emerging market for legal distance education. The use of internet technologies is blurring boundaries between the distance education and the "traditional" classroom because the technology is making it possible for distance education to be potentially as interactive. This panel will discuss the differences between "traditional" and distance education courses, focusing on the preparation and work necessary to create and teach an internet-based course. The session will define the kinds of distance education course (synchronous, asynchronous or blended) and will explain the kinds of technical and academic resources needed to offer such a course. Finally, panelists will provide a brief introduction to the kinds of courses and programs being offered by law schools, concluding with general recommendations on how to get other faculty members more involved. Moderator: Professor Anthony Baldwin, Mercer University Law School Speakers: Professor Rebecca Trammell, Stetson University College of Law; Professor Billie Jo Kaufman, American University, Washington College of Law; Professor John Baker,Louisiana State University Law Center; Professor Phill Johnson, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

(esp)

March 6, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 08, 2007

Creating an AALS Section on Educational and Instructional Technology

I've posted an article on www.teknoids.net (a website for law school tech folks and their friends) calling for the creation of an AALS Section on Educational and Instructional Technology.    I thought I'd mention it here since many of our readers nay have an interest in the formation of this section.  From the post:

The idea is to have a Section that does an annual program that provides the AALS Annual Meeting attendees with information about, and demonstrations of, the latest in educational and instructional technologies. The Section would provide a forum for interested faculty to interact with IT professionals in a situation that outside of the normal structures of the IT/faculty relationship.

I would invite anyone interested in creating this section to join the community at teknoids and help us plan.
Elmer Masters

February 8, 2007 in Technology -- for advancing scholarship, Technology -- in general, Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 01, 2007

Why Many Profs Don't Podcast Lectures – A Response

In this post Anupam Chander raised four points exploring why more faculty are not podcasting. I would like to respond to each of those points as a way of expanding the discussion. Most of what I know about podcasting in law schools comes from the experience of developing, implementing, and supporting the Classcaster blogging and podcasting network for CALI. I will draw on that experience in responding to Anupam's points. I will also propose a use case for podcasting that some may find interesting.

Responses

First, the benefits may not be obvious. After all, most students do attend the lectures, few students likely have the time or inclination to replay them online.

Yes, the benefits of podcasting are not obvious, in part because there are few examples to demonstrate the benefits. It took the incentives offered as part of the Legal Education Podcasting Project (LEPP) to prime the pump of Classcaster. Getting faculty to podcast courses requires demonstrating the benefits to students. Most students do attend the lectures, but they do find the time to access the recorded lectures. We surveyed students of LEPP faculty last spring and asked them if they used the podcasts. 38.4% of the students responding indicated they listened to most or all of the podcasts and another 14.5% of the students listened to 6 to 10 of the course's podcasts. About 25% downloaded the podcasts to listen on an MP3 player or iPod or burn to a CD. The comments collected from the survey generally indicated that students found the recordings useful and they found ways to make listening to the podcasts fit into their schedules.

Course podcasts need not be recordings of the lectures. A number of faculty record 10 – 15 minute summaries of the material covered in the class. These highlight the important parts of the lecture and are useful as a supplement.

Second, will podcasting just encourage absenteeism? There may be little reason to attend lecture if one can simply get it off the web while still wearing pajamas (and surfing on a laptop in bed wirelessly).

Our experience with Classcaster indicates that making recordings available does not promote absenteeism. Anecdotally, faculty using podcasts are not seeing any drop in attendance. Many do take attendance and enforce their schools policies on missing classes. About 80% of the students replying to the question in the survey indicated that they attended courses with podcasts as regularly as other courses. Students tend to use the recordings as a way of clarifying what they are learning, a supplement for the course, not a replacement for the lecture. What better study aid to provide for your students than your own words on a subject.

Third, posting a lecture may hamper class discussion. Perhaps a controversial discussion about sexual crimes, or abortion, or limits on free speech, or limits on freedom of contract might become somewhat stilted if a student realizes that his or her statements are being recorded for posterity. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may be grateful that we don't have audiotapes of all their in class comments while they attended law school. Most likely that such a recording would demonstrate yet again their formidable talents, but yet, public scrutiny of law school classroom dialog seems unwarranted.

This is a very big concern. The answer is that recording classroom lectures for podcasts is not always appropriate or desirable. Recording of classes works well for lectures that are primarily the professor speaking. It doesn't work well for most seminars, or classes that are discussion driven. There are considerable technical difficulties with recording a whole classroom. Sensitive subjects are also problematic. For example a professor teaching family law wanted to podcast the course but discovered early in the first lecture that the subject matter of the discussions in class was quite frank and personal. The recorder was turned off and the course was not podcast. Podcasting is just one tool and like any tool, it has it uses.

Most professors announce their intention to record and podcast a class at the beginning of the first session. I have heard a number of faculty ask for objections after informing students that their in class comments would be recorded. I have not heard any objections from students. Faculty recording lectures generally report no drop in either the quantity or quality of student in class comments. Indeed, I had an email exchange with a student who was concerned with the quality of audio of a particular podcast. Seems he couldn't quite hear himself giving some lengthy rely to a faculty question and was there anything I could do to boost the level of his voice.

Fourth, professors may worry that their teaching style or content may be second guessed by others.

A valid worry. Faculty have reported listening to other, more senior faculty's lectures to get tips and listening to their own lectures for self-evaluation purposes. Students have reported listening to other faculty lectures to help work through some point that they were not getting from their professors podcast and listening to podcasts from professors at other schools as a study aid. One faculty member keeps the podcasts behind a password because other faculty teaching other 1L sections do not want their students listening to those lectures. Podcasting lectures exposes the most intimate part of your teaching to the world, so you have to be comfortable and confident in what you do and ready to take what this exposure brings.

A use case for podcasting

All this really focuses on the notion of recording full in class lectures for podcasting. That is just one possibility. Right now on Classcaster faculty from over 50 schools are podcasting a variety of things. Some podcast full lectures. Others record class summaries. Some do weekly summaries. Some add interviews and guest podcasts. Most do exam review podcasts (very popular). Some mix and match these different formats depending on the course being taught. All of these formats work and it would not be difficult for a professor to find a format that fits into their style of teaching.

There is another use for podcasting that is being explored more and more at the undergraduate level that I think may be a good for law: the use of podcast lectures as class preparatory material. The give and take of the Socratic method is a mainstay of legal education. Law professors enjoy engaging students in these discussions that are aimed at bringing the student to understanding the nature of the law. Yet, this is a difficult task. Required reading often needs some elaboration through lecture to bring the student to a base level needed to begin discussing the concepts. And there are only 50 minutes! Podcasting offers some assistance here.

Imagine recording the lecture part of the class before the class is held. 20 – 30 minutes of lecture to be listened to before attending class. Then the in class time is focused on discussing and expanding the concepts raised in the recorded lecture. The expanded time for discussion means engaging more students at greater depth. A richer discussion will follow allowing students to get more from the class. Students will appreciate the higher level of engagement and will quickly learn that they do need to listen to the lectures before attending class.

Using the tools provided by Classcaster, a professor could experiment with this approach for a few classes. If anyone out there wants to give it a try, I'd be more than happy to help out in any way I can.

I hope this response helps further the discussion over the use of podcasting legal education.

 

Elmer Masters – blogged with Word 2007

February 1, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 28, 2007

Why Many Profs Don't Podcast Lectures

Elmer Masters asks, in a comment to my post below on Steve Bainbridge's business associations class, why more law professors are not podcasting (or vid-casting) lectures.

Here are some thoughts as to why. Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying podcasting is a bad idea. I'm simply exploring why many professors do not do it.

First, the benefits may not be obvious. After all, most students do attend the lectures, few students likely have the time or inclination to replay them online.

Second, will podcasting just encourage absenteeism? There may be little reason to attend lecture if one can simply get it off the web while still wearing pajamas (and surfing on a laptop in bed wirelessly).

Third, posting a lecture may hamper class discussion. Perhaps a controversial discussion about sexual crimes, or abortion, or limits on free speech, or limits on freedom of contract might become somewhat stilted if a student realizes that his or her statements are being recorded for posterity. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may be grateful that we don't have audiotapes of all their in class comments while they attended law school. Most likely that such a recording would demonstrate yet again their formidable talents, but yet, public scrutiny of law school classroom dialog seems unwarranted.

Fourth, professors may worry that their teaching style or content may be second guessed by others.

These are just some preliminary thoughts. Are there other reasons? Are any of these reasons compelling? Are any of these concerns obviously misplaced? For my own part, I think arguments #2 and 3 are serious.

Anupam Chander

28obamaxlarge1

January 28, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 25, 2007

Take Corporations from UCLA Prof. Bainbridge!

At his eponymous website, Prof. Steve Bainbridge is posting both the lecture audio and the powerpoint slides from his Corporations class at UCLA. He even includes quizzes and answers!

Does this devalue the education at UCLA by making it available to everyone--even those who don't attend?

Or does it increase the value of a UCLA education by showing off its very fine teaching? (I suspect the latter is more likely.)

Will other law professors follow? Harvard's Zittrain/Palfrey/Fisher/Nesson have repeatedly offered material specially designed for online consumption. Posting lectures online for public inspection allows others to critique one's lectures--it allows anyone to sit in on, and thus judge, a professor's teaching. That will give many professors pause, before they do so.

A side-benefit is that entry-level corporate law professors--especially one's teaching from the Klein/Bainbridge/Ramseyer text--could listen to Steve's lectures before giving their own.

I would be remiss not to note the IP issues here. Who owns the lecture (and thus has rights to authorize public dissemination)? As I understand, Berkeley claims to own the MP3 recording for its professors, but gives ownership of the lecture itself to the individual professor. I don't know what UCLA claims (perhaps there is a Regents policy on this). That said, I'm would be surprised if the Regents would interfere with the dissemination of educational material in this manner.

I asked Steve about his intentions and he reports that he sees it "as a service to adopters of my casebook and students"--and, corporate-minded person that he is, "as guerrilla marketing."

In my view this is a brilliant move by Steve. Kudos to him for his leadership.

Anupam Chander

January 25, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 22, 2007

Essay Exam Software for the Mac

Most law schools require students who plan to use their laptop to write a timed law school exam to first install ExamSoft. ExamSoft prevents students from accessing other files while they are taking the exam.

ExamSoft's major deficiency, from my perspective at least, is its lack of Mac support. ExamSoft is also quite expensive.

Is there a popular, well-tested alternative software to ExamSoft that allows Mac users to take law school exams?

Anupam Chander

January 22, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 11, 2007

Out with the old, in with the new...

I love the idea of using blogs and wikis as support tools for classes, discussed in several posts below.  I will probably keep track of Doug's experience with his death penalty blog and look to using one in the fall for my own class.

One of the things that I like about this idea is that it may offer freedom from using Blackboard software, which has (for me, anyways) proven to be ungainly and unreliable.  At the very least, creating a blog gives the professor much more control over the construction of the web component of the class, and that's all to the good. 

Are there others out there who would consider replacing Blackboard with a blog?  It could be that others have not had the same problems I have faced.

-- Mark Osler 

January 11, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 09, 2007

CALI Classcaster: A Course Centric Blogging and Podcasting System

Note: This article contains a lengthy description of the Classcaster system.  I am preparing a separate article on what I've learned about the pros and cons of course blogging while administering Classcaster.

Classcaster® is a course blogging system that provides faculty, librarians, and staff of CALI member schools with a new way to interact with students and communities. A Classcaster blog provides authors with tools for posting not only traditional blog articles but also tools for podcasting and sharing any documents and/or files with students and communities. During the Fall 2006 semester over 70 faculty and librarians from CALI member schools posted over 1000 hours of course lectures and summaries for their students.  In addition many authors posted syllabi, assignments, slides, and engaged students in discussion on their Classcaster blogs.

By visiting the Classcaster homepage faculty, staff, and librarians can quickly create a Classcaster blog with features that include a unique URL (web address), custom templates, moderated comments, password protection for blogs and posts, file sharing, podcasting, and the ability to list your blog in the iTunes Music Store.  This collection of features allow authors to easily connect with students to share information.  A single author can create multiple blogs, so you may have a blog for each of your courses.  Using Classcaster's advanced features you can record your lectures or audio supplements to lectures using a telephone and have that recording posted to your blog.

Support for getting started with and using Classcaster is available from the Classcaster FAQ and the support forum.  Additional information about Classcaster is included in the Legal Education Podcasting Project FAQ and the original Classcaster whitepaper.

In the two years we have been developing and using Classcaster a number of questions have come up about the system beyond just how to use it.  I have included them below to help people in deciding about whether or not to use Classcaster.

Elmer Masters


January 9, 2007 in Teaching -- pedagogy, Technology -- for advancing scholarship, Technology -- in general, Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 08, 2007

Course Wikis

Geoff McGovern, in a comment, proposes the use of a Wiki as an adjunct to discussions in a law school class.

A Wiki sounds like a great idea. I think Jonathan Zittrain and John Palfrey at Harvard may have employed them for classes.

But here's the basic logistical question--how would one set one up? And how do you avoid being overrun by spam? Do you limit participation to enrolled students only?

I'd consider setting one up for my "Is International Law Democratic?" seminar this term.

Anupam Chander

January 8, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 07, 2007

Experimenting with a class blog

This coming semester I am teaching a course on the Death Penalty.  Because death penalty law is in a constant state of flux and because so much is happening in this area so quickly, I am experimenting with a class blog instead of a casebook for assembling the course readings.  In addition, I am going to expect students not just to read the blog, but also to do some posting.

I would be grateful to anyone with advice or suggestions as I prepare for, and try to make the most of, this new adventure in blogging.   Posted by DAB

January 7, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 26, 2006

Distance Education in the Law School - # 2

A Mini-Conclave on Legal Education, put on by the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, held in Naples, Florida, had a thoughtful panel on distance eduction.  Dean Joseph Harbaugh (Nova) moderated the panel, with panelists being William Adams (Nova), Johnny Burriss (Nova), Barry Currier (Concord) and Craig Gold (Concord).  The panelists demonstrated some distance learning capabilities including one speaker who engaged with the audience from across the United States.  The discussion following the presentation posed interesting questions for consideration, such as: what should be the ABA limit on distance learning courses; is the limit today arbitrary; should all courses be allowed to be taught via distance education; and can you replicate a live classroom using distance education.  One conclusion that was agreed upon by all present is that distance education needs to be examined further. 

Prior discussion related to distance learning  here (discussion of ABA Standard)

(esp)

December 26, 2006 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 12, 2006

Power to the students? The case of laptops in the classroom

The first issue that we discussed at our forum last Thursday, on which we also lingered the longest, animated the unending controversy over laptops in the classroom. (Listen to this discussion). The topic itself interests me far less than what it seems to represent: a shift of power from professors to students in today's law school classes. (It also represents the changing skills and knowledge that a future lawyer needs, but more on that later).

Of course professors and students have always struggled over control of the classroom, but if my own law teachers were playing defense against the hornbooks sold in our school bookstore, teachers today are battling the entire Web. Students disgruntled with the quality (or entertainment value) of their professors can pool knowledge with peers around the country, view other professors' lessons and presentations, and even download MP3 readings of cases, iTunes-like. So, as Dean Pat Hobbs noted in the panel, students are increasingly expecting professors to entertain them. But I'm not convinced that this is the only dimension of change.

I propose that a law professor (and all teachers in general) cannot erect infinitely high seawalls against a rising tide of information and opinions -- indeed, given the reality that law students will step into as practitioners, such an approach may even be harmful. Rather, perhaps professors are increasingly being called on to serve as architects of an educational space that students create together and not just as drill sergeants of knowledge.

I am deliberately attempting to provoke discussion here -- please post your comments!

- Gene Koo

December 12, 2006 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 04, 2006

An Overview of CALI

John Mayer, the Executive Director of CALI, prepared the following three screencasts as part of a presentation he gave last week.  I thought they might be of interest here since they give a good overview of where CALI is at today and where are headed in the coming months.

-Elmer Masters

December 4, 2006 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack