Retired Reference Librarian formerly at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago.

Connie Crosby asks an interesting question on the SLAW blog:  Where Are the MOOCs for Law Librarians?  She’s really channeling Katie Thomas in posing the question.  Thomas identifies programs for librarians, though these are aimed broadly at information science.  There really aren’t any that mix law and librarianship as related concepts.  I can think of a couple of reasons why there aren’t any specific MOOC offerings for law librarians.

One is that there is a lot of background technical work that goes into making a MOOC work successfully.  Universities that offer MOOC’s will partner with entities such as Coursera rather than building the necessary infrastructure from scratch.  Another is that LIS programs tend not to offer more than one or two courses that focus directly on law librarianship.  I would think that any MOOCs they present would reflect that limited specialization within their courses.

That leaves the professional organizations as a possible sponsor of MOOCs aimed at law librarians.  There is certainly no lack of educational opportunities at the AALL annual meeting.  The regional chapters put on educational programs at least once per year.  Could they possibly present these as a MOOC?  I don’t know.  I think the professional organizations are the most likely organizers of content aimed at law librarians.

AALL offers webinars from time to time.  The next one is The Law of E-books scheduled for October 24th.  The description notes “This program is sponsored by AALL/Bloomberg Continuing Education Grants Program.”  Maybe it’s time to explore partnerships with vendors to underwrite a law librarian MOOC.  I’ll say from the outset that I’m not addressing the politics of vendor partnerships.  There is a model and a precedent, however, for the idea that a vendor can help underwrite a CLE program.  Why not in the form of a MOOC?  I would hope that AALL and the regional chapters consider the idea.  Maybe then we’ll see an answer to Connie and Katie’s question.  Hat tip to Judy Gaskell for the link to SLAW.

Mark

It’s nice to be back after what I will call a “vacation” from the blog.  As a way of getting back in the swing of things, let’s see what developments have taken place in the down time.  These are the kinds of things I covered at our former blog.

The Apple e-book trial ended in early summer with a finding of liability for attempting to fix e-book prices.  Apple continues to deny the finding by Judge Denise Cote and plans to appeal.  The Court issued an injunction specifying remedies on September 6th.  These include forbidding Apple from entering into publisher contracts containing MFN clauses for five years; retailers having the right to discount e-books for two years; staggered windows for negotiations with the settling publishers, in settlement order; and requiring an external compliance monitor who would make sure Apple complies with the terms of the Court’s order.  The one remedy denied to the Justice Department was its request to allow in-app purchases on iDevices without having vendors pay the standard 30% commission to Apple.  The Justice Department would further expand that requirement to other media besides books.  The Judge declined the request stating essentially that she did not want to regulate Apple’s overall business model.  More details, including a copy of the Court’s order, are at paidContent.

The ABA Taskforce on the Future of Legal Education issued its latest draft report on September 20th.  The key conclusions include the fact that a student with lower LSAT scores and GPA will not get a greater return on investment as they are less likely eligible for student aid.  The better students will get aid regardless of need.  “These practices are in need of serious re-engineering.”  I can hear a dean somewhere asking “but what about the rankings?”

The twin components of accreditation and innovation are addressed by noting how current accreditation standards are worthy of the profession up to now.  The problem is that they standardize much of legal education in a way that stifles innovation.  Regulation should allow for flexibility and experimentation in constructing a law program that prepares a student to deliver legal services.  “The Task Force thus recommends that a number of the Standards be repealed or dramatically liberalized.”  Here’s another conclusion that will not be popular with the faculty:  “The balance between doctrinal instruction and focused preparation for the delivery of legal services needs to shift still further toward developing the competencies required by people who will deliver services to clients.”  Legal Writing programs just became a little more important.

The Report additionally calls for expanding the number of people who can deliver common legal services through training and certification that is short of the full J.D. program.  The cost of legal services to the general public is skyrocketing because of the cost of training lawyers.  Something along these lines would make legal services more affordable.  The ABA Journal has additional details.

Regular readers of our old site know that I covered Supreme Court cases for the last several years.  I intend to continue that practice as the new term begins next Monday.  I’ll continue to add significant cases from the lower courts.  You may remember a case out of Virginia last year where a federal judge found that a Facebook “like” was not protected speech.  The Fourth Circuit recently decided otherwise.  I’ll also be covering significant technology developments.  The public update to Windows 8/8.1 is just a few short weeks away, and there’s the Surface 2 as well.  Yahoo has a new logo, and Google is still in trouble with the European Union and member states.  There will be commentary on educational technology as always. There will also be book reviews of new Oxford University Press items and other publishers.  Everyone take note that I am a slow reader when it comes to long form.  Law school (reading too many doctrinal cases lo those many years ago) lowered my desire to pick up a book, and if that desire ever re-awakened, well the pace of the Internet turned it into consumption of zombie short form.  Lots of it.

And I just may review the occasional media item.  I just picked up Simon Schama’s History of Britain (BBC Special Edition DVD set).  I highly recommend it.  If you’re interested in Scooby-Doo, well I’ve got something to say.  Beyond that, welcome to the new Law Librarian blog.  Thank you for reading.

Mark