Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Is Word Processing Dead?

In a recent conversation with a student, she commented that she wished knew more than just how to type on a word processor. She was disappointed with her first year advocacy brief’s appearance. She spent many frustrating hours reformatting and page numbering which took away from precious writing time. With the current generation’s use of mobile devices, texting, tweeting and blogging, the fine art of word processing seems to be on the downward slide. Having worked in a law office many years ago using onion skin paper and carbon, I was struck by this difference. Brief writing can be made much easier by using simple tools available in the basic Word program. For example, the use of styles enables students to automatically format the table of contents and table of authorities. The problem becomes how to find the resources and time to learn to use this tool. Check to see if your University has any continuing education or distance education resource for learning Word. At our law school we are very fortunate to have members of the IT team who are expert word processors and available for workshops and individual assistance. Each fall, I coordinate with the IT department to present a workshop on basic word processing for law students. There are many online tools available as well. For example Lynda.com provides tutorials for a low cost subscription. The time invested in learning to use these tools can be paid back many times over as students go through law school and eventually into the practice. (Bonnie Stepleton)

June 17, 2014 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Update on the Law School Academic Success Project Website

The following e-mail from Louis Schulze (Chair) appeared on the Academic Support Section listserv for AALS to update ASP'ers on the status of LSASP and some assistance that is needed to update the website:

Dear Colleagues,

As you may know, the law school academic success project website is maintained by the AALS Section
on Academic Support.  A few weeks ago, some questions arose on the ASP
listserv regarding how to gain access to that website.  After some
troubleshooting, it now appears that those matters have been resolved, and we
are moving forward with continued improvements to the website. 

As Chair of the Section, I’m happy to report that OJ Salinas, of UNC Law, has agreed to serve as Senior Editor of the website and Chair of the Section’s Website committee.  You will be noticing some changes to the website in the near future, and I write today to ask for your assistance with some of these changes: 

(1)  Any person who recently requested access to the website should now have access.  You should have received an email approving your request.  If you recently requested access and have not
been approved, please contact OJ at osalinas@email.unc.edu

(2)  We need assistance with the “Contacts” section of the website.  Could you please check your information and your school’s information for accuracy and report any changes to OJ?  Also, if you were recently granted access to the website and would like to be added to the
contacts section of our website, please forward to OJ at osalinas@email.unc.edu your school;
title; telephone number; and email.  If you have one available, a photograph would be helpful (head shot is best for the website).  If you have an updated photograph that you would like added to the website, please forward it to OJ, as well.

(3)  We would like to update the portion of the website dealing with conferences.  If you know of an upcoming ASP conference, could you please report it to OJ?  If you recently presented at a
conference and would be willing to share your materials, could you email OJ?  We want to continue to use the website as an ASP resource, and conference materials are valuable resources.

Additional changes are on the horizon for the website, and we look forward to rolling those out in the near future.  In the meantime, I’m sure I speak for our community when I thank Jon McClanahan of UNC Law for chairing the website committee for several years now and doing a wonderful
job.  Thanks also go to OJ Salinas for his recent work and for agreeing to chair the committee in the future.  Finally, our entire community owes a huge debt of gratitude to Ruth Ann McKinney for the hours upon hours of work she invested in creating the LSASP website, which is an incredible
resource. 

Best regards,

Louis

Louis N. Schulze, Jr.

Professor of Law & Director of Academic Support

NEW ENGLAND LAW
 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
 

 
 BOSTON

 

July 18, 2013 in Miscellany, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Vinyl thoughts in a digital age: laptops, classrooms and beyond

About five or six years ago, messages about laptop use in the classroom hit both the ASP list-serve and the Teaching Methods list-serve within a few weeks of one another. Even though the distress signals have calmed, “laptops-in-the-classroom,” as a usual suspect for student disengagement and distraction, still pops up at my law school. Responses vary from embracing, to tolerating, to banning the machines. How to manage the machines is the challenge. And it's going to be a challenge for our graduates as well. What is a diversion for students while in law school can become a monster of a taskmaster in law practice.

Law school classrooms have changed dramatically in the last twenty years or so. Up until about 1980, the biggest observable change was from black boards to white boards. Since then, the changes have been rapid, often with little attention to pedagogical detail, but more to being able to brag that a school was the most wired. Even just fifteen years ago, only a few students brought a lap top to class, and it certainly wasn't an Apple. Now the view from the podium is a sea of laptop lids, and eyes down.

The problem is not so much that students and lawyers are bathed in technology. The challenge is to determine how best to use that technology. Various practitioners’ journals include reviews and advice about the latest in software and hardware that make the lawyer’s workday efficient. The reviews are tempting, but each new machine and program has to be managed, requiring time and effort. Those who write about the virtual world have coined some interesting buzz words in the last several months: cognitive surplus, neural plasticity, digital alarmists—that last term might apply to me.

However, even those whose professional lives have embraced the technical world wonder about the effects of the machines and the Internet on our daily lives. Chip-maker Intel felt the pressure a few years ago. In 2007, Intel gave its employees the option of “email-free Fridays” in an effort to promote more direct communication within the company. Just last year, Caitlin Roper, managing editor of the Paris Review, in reviewing two books about the tech world for the Los Angeles Times, wrote that she felt “faster, but more distracted than I used to be. I don't know anyone who doesn't struggle . . . with the issue of how much to let technology aid, or encroach, on daily life.”

Roper's words define that daily effect: the demon that technology and the Internet can become unless it's leashed. A few years ago, a GPSolo article told the story of the young associate's attempts at a vacation with her family, while leashed to her office via her smart phone. It wasn't a pretty picture. It's the classic concern about whether the owner is leashed to the dog, or whether it's the other way around.

I've noticed a subtle unleashing trend at my law school. Southwestern's Bullocks Wilshire is a wonderful marriage of the building's Art Deco style with an LA coolness. In the open spaces you get a Michael-Jackson-Billy-Jean-MTV effect when the ceiling lights fire up as you pass by. It's lively but subdued. Faculty offices have light sensors, but several of us turn off the sensor so that the office is illuminated by window light only. Subdued.

I occasionally go one step further: my computer is off as well. Deep thought. And the notebook I'm using is yellow, with horizontal lines. My office is quiet in spite of the hubbub of Wilshire Boulevard outside my window, perfect for thinking and as close as I can get to an imaginary walk in the wilderness while in the heart of Los Angeles. Nothing to distract me from my distraction.

 Is this a lesson for my wired students? As academic support professionals we can develop strategies for effective and efficient use of the new beast, and learn to cage it when we need to. I know I need help with this.

Paul Bateman

 

April 13, 2012 in Professionalism, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Digital Natives" and Learning

Hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog for information on Brian Cowan's article on November 6, 2011 in The Chronicle of Higher Education on digital natives and their learning.  Although the article is about university students in general, it is relevant to law school students.  The article can be found here (subscription required): 'Digital Natives' Aren't Necessarily Digital Learners.  (Amy Jarmon)

November 11, 2011 in Teaching Tips, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)