Friday, May 2, 2014
A few weeks ago, a student approached me regarding a new app for law school. His idea sounded interesting, and I hope it goes far and makes him enough money to breed rainbow-colored unicorns, but the use of tech in law school has been something I've been unsure about for years.
At heart, I am a Neo Luddist (I unironically own a VCR and a turntable). I have no data to back myself up, but I am not a fan of tech in law school education for a few reasons:
1. Tech in general makes research much faster -- consequently, a lot of research is fairly shallow.
2. Tech in general makes struggling for the answer to something an alien concept. The answer to any question in the world is sitting in your pocket (unless you left your phone on your dresser).
3. Tech is widening the divide between haves and have-nots -- at least prior to their entry to law school.
4. Word processing makes writing voluminous assignments much easier, when brevity is the soul of ..
5. Got distracted. Tech is distracting. Hey, look, a cat wearing a crown!
5. Spellcheck is the Devil.
6. Education sometimes seems to praise tech for tech's sake.
7. For Bar Prep stuff, I think having a live instructer makes students more beholden to the class -- it's a lot harder to walk out on a live person or to blow off lectures that you know you can't watch later.
8. Tech is ridiculously fun -- students can do a bazillion other things on a laptop rather than listen to a lecture -- 9 times out of 10, they probably are.
9. Cat wearing pajamas! Sorry, got distracted again.
10. Powerpoint trains people to think in Powerpoint.
That being said, tech was invaluable in teaching my class on Art and Copyright because I could immediately play music samples and show paintings to illustrate points. And clickers and in-class polls are pretty fun (although I don't know if they necessarily teach concepts any better than practice questions on paper).
I continue to struggle with the issue -- and it's clearly the wave of the future (much like kickboxing) -- but sometimes I think it might be something that actually makes current law study harder than it might have been in the past.
Look! Cat wearing a bathing suit! (Alex Ruskell)