H/T to Legal Skills Prof Blog for calling attention to Nikos Harris, The Risks of Technology in the Law Classroom: Why the Next Great Development In Legal Education Might Be Going Low-Tech, 51 UBC L REV 773 (2018). Here’s the abstract:
It is often assumed that technology improves every facet of our lives, including learning in the university classroom. However, there is mounting evidence that traditional lecturing and note-taking techniques may provide the optimal learning environment. Student use of laptops, and professor use of electronic course slides, may actually impair learning in a manner which has particular significance for legal education. This emerging evidence suggests that law professors can make a justifiable decision to bring about a “low tech revolution” in their classrooms. Achieving that revolution is more complicated when it comes to student use of laptops, but there are a number of techniques which can be used to encourage students to consider dusting off a pen and pad of paper.
Via Press Release:
This fall, our colleagues at HarvardX, a University-wide initiative supporting faculty innovation in teaching, are helping with those connections by bringing to life some of the library’s holdings in the open online course The Book: Histories Across Time and Space. Harvard librarians have been essential partners in the development of this course, and we hope it will increase awareness about the value of libraries as well as enthuse people about learning more about books and their impact on learning and society.
The Book, developed by HarvardX and available via edX, is an interactive learning experience made up of nine modules that examine the world of books, scrolls, and manuscripts. The course highlights aspects of these materials – from their physical structure and history to the print and handwriting found within their pages – across time and across cultures.
The Book brings learners inside the collections of Harvard’s libraries, providing access to some of the world’s most extraordinary works through the use of digital tools (including a rich image viewer) and perspectives from leading thinkers. A group of distinguished faculty members leads the course, including Jeffrey F. Hamburger (History of Art & Architecture, Faculty of Arts and Sciences), Robert Darnton (History, Faculty of Arts & Sciences and University Librarian emeritus), and Thomas Forrest Kelly(Music, Faculty of Arts and Sciences).
Anyone with an internet connection can take this self-paced course. Sign up for free today, and please share this opportunity with others.
CNET is telling us that Google is now offering something called Google Classroom. It combines Google Docs, Drive, and Gmail for use as an electronic hub between an instructor and students. Another story from Inside Higher Ed notes that it’s no competition for the major classroom management systems used in universities as there are no grade management capabilities. Still, with anything Google does there is the initial product offering and then there are the improvements over time.
The case law on Google Scholar is a perfect example of this. The search algorithms improved tremendously over time. Concept searches now bring relevant results. The so-called citator Google provides may not compare with Shepards and KeyCite. However, it pulls quotes and links from the database showing how a cited case is used in context. Pro se litigants may find this feature useful. Ask me about Google Classroom in three years when we see how disruptive it is. –Mark
There is a longer video from Lexis on the new LexisAdvance interface which reveals more detail about the interface. There are obvious improvements compared to what currently exists. I’m not convinced until trying it out. My uncertainty has more to do with whether the functionality is conducive to work flow. Lexis seems to think it is. We’ll see. As of this writing there are 423 views and no comments for the six minute video. The video is on YouTube here. While we’re on the subject of videos, some may want to view this video concerning the LexisNexis Digital Library for Law Schools. –Mark
William Mitchell has been granted a variance from the ABA’s distance learning rule. The ABA’s decision allows the “law school for the real world” to offer approximately 50% of its curriculum via online classes. From the press release:
Students who enroll in the new hybrid program will be on campus for at least one week each semester participating in 56 intensive hours of realistic simulations and other coursework. Students will prepare for their on-campus work through an e-learning curriculum designed by William Mitchell faculty to integrate legal doctrine with practical legal skills. In addition, students will have the opportunity to complete externships in their communities under the supervision of practicing attorneys. This innovative hybrid of on-campus and online learning will provide new access to those seeking a rigorous, experiential J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school.
William Mitchell claims “[t]he variance is the first of its kind and comes on the heels of a draft recommendation by the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education that law schools be permitted to experiment and innovate.”
Hat tip to Alfred Brophy’s ABA Approves William Mitchell’s 50% on-line JD on The Faculty Lounge. — Joe
Are MOOCs just a fad or will MOOCs settle into being a useful tool to combat the rising costs in high education? Way too soon to tell but MOOCs are “higher education’s hot and sexy topic” right now. Judith A. Pirani, a consultant at the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) and president of Sheep Pond Associates, has published A Compendium of MOOC Perspectives, Research, and Resources. Recommended. — Joe
On Tom Glocer’s blog, former TRI CEO Tom Glocer returned to the day, some 30 years ago, when he and fellow Yale LS classmate, Ron Wright, launched a computer game at YLS that was designed to be a teaching aid for pre-trial discovery. The program apparently was well received at Yale. It even made the New York Times. Glocer republished the article in his 30th Anniversary Post – Can Computers Teach the Law? post. [Glitchy direct link warning; hence the above link to the blog’s front page.] From Computer Gives Yale Law Students a Taste of Court Process (NYT, Dec. 25, 1983):
Professor Fiss, one of Yale’s three professors teaching civil procedure this semester, is replacing what was a written exercise with a computer game created by Mr. Glocer and Mr. Wright. Process of Discovery.
OK, so the NYT article was Christmas Day newspaper fodder. Still, it’s too bad Glocer didn’t bring that sort of innovation to the table at Thomson Reuters. Then again, WEXIS is the cemetery for innovative thinkers. Perhaps he tried.
Don’t know about your non-compete clause but … why not start up an Etsy eCommerce site for one-off e-“legal solutions” like altSEs, apps, etc., handmade by legal technologists? My hunch is many of those creative folks wouldn’t mind giving you a 4% sales commission for the exposure they might get from a legal Etsy site.
Your pal, Joe
Kudos to ABAJ for finally recognizing CALI’s John Mayer as a member of ABA Journal’s class of 2013 Legal Rebels. It’s about time IMHO. This is the fifth annual Legal Rebels installment and John has been doing his CALI thing since 1994. No doubt John was happy to accept the recognition on behalf of CALI’s staff, past and present, and the Center’s institutional supporters. In the below ABAJ video he promotes one of CALI’s most important projects, A2J.
John’s CALI gig almost lasted no longer than a concert performance by the other John Mayer. According to the ABAJ’s profile (located under the heading “Freeing the Law” here), “Shortly after starting, center leaders told him the organization might shut down.” I wonder what bar on the west side of the Loop John went to after hearing that!
Oh, BTW, John is a member of the inaugural class of the Fastcase 50. The 2011 Fastcase 50 profile does a far better job at capturing the essence of this rebel with a damn good cause. For example, “John Mayer is a visionary and a connector (as well as a leading purveyor of flying stuffed animals at conferences).”
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.