March 17, 2011
Debunking Myths for Banning Laptops from the Law School Classroom
In Let Them Use Laptops: Debunking the Assumptions Underlying the Debate Over Laptops in the Classroom [SSRN] (Oklahoma City University Law Review, forthcoming), Temple law prof Kristen E. Murray writes:
What has troubled me about the debate is that both sides consistently make arguments based on untested assumptions about how students are using their laptops. The debate has also been uninformed because it often fails to take account of existing knowledge about today’s law student learners; there has been little discussion of the issue in the context of the effect of laptops on student learning.
Myth #1: Students Use Laptops to Take Transcript-Style Notes
Myth #2: Laptops in Class Lead to Decreased Class Participation and Engagement
Myth #3: Laptops Primarily Provide Law Students with Opportunities for Distraction
Myth #4: Because They Are Digital Natives, Law Students Make Informed Choices About Laptops and Learning
Myth #5: Law Professors Have Developed Sufficient Standards for Measuring the Results of Law School Laptop Bans
Murray concludes that "to ban [laptops] completely from a lecture hall is to deny students a powerful learning tool—one that many students already use to enhance their learning."
Hat tip to Legal Writing Prof Blog. [JH]
February 22, 2011
Bringing Serious Gaming to Legal Skills Training: Integrating Doctrinal Education with Simulation
Knowing that law school grades have little if anything to do with evaluating success in practicing law, Dutch BigLaw firm Houthoff Buruma teamed up with Ranj Serious Games to create "The Game" as a recruitment tool. Trailer below. The objective is to expose potential hires to what working at a top-tier law firm would be like. In Dutch Law Firm Uses Video Game to Evaluate Law Graduates’ Talent, ABAJ's Laala Al Jaber and Sarah Randag describe the game as follows:
Players of "The Game"—graduating law students in the Netherlands—are given a complex legal scenario wherein they must represent a Chinese state-owned company as it plans to take over a Dutch family company. The players are split into teams of up to five people, given 90 minutes to confront problems as they arise and persuade enough shareholders to sell their shares. The fast-paced legal challenge ascertains how lawyers cope with stressful situations, bombarding them with CNN news flashes, video and text chats, film clips, e-mails and more than 100 fictional documents. Once the game ends, the results are displayed, and each team is given the opportunity to justify their solutions.
"The Game" was awarded the European Innovative Games Award in November 2010 and and Best Use of Technology to Support Marketing Efforts Award at the 2011 Hubbard One Excellence in Legal Marketing Awards. For much more, see “The Game” stuns attendees at legal marketing awards program on Legal Current (Jaap Bosman, Head of Marketing at Houthoff Buruma: “Everyone is welcome to come and play The Game at our offices. We have had the young section of Association of Dutch In-house Counsel come and play, competing against our young lawyers. We have even had clients asking if they can come and play. It has turned out to be a great networking tool.”)
Very interesting development. While any given law school probably could not afford to develop something with "The Game's" high production value, someone "out there" might see that bringing the world of serious gaming to teach legal skills in a manner that integrates doctrinal education with simulation just might be an untapped market in the legal academy, for in-house law firm training, even for CLE. Will we be seeing WEXIS gaming divisions in the not too distant future? This just might be part of the solution to the chronic problem of teaching aspiring lawyers how to practice their chosen profession. [JH]
January 06, 2011
NCBE Loses ADA Accommodation Case in Bar Exam Squabble
The Ninth Circuit is a busy place lately. There was the first sale case I wrote about yesterday. There was the decision to punt the issue of standing to the California Supreme Court in the case concerning the validity of the voter initiative prohibiting gay marriage in that state. And there is the case of Enyart v. National Conference of Bar Examiners where a sight impaired individual successfully challenged the level of accommodation available in taking the California Bar. This case is puzzling in some respects in that it didn't have to happen.
Enyart graduated from the UCLA law school. She suffers from form of juvenile macular degeneration which the Court states causes a large blind spot in her field of vision and an extreme sensitivity to light. Enyars has been legally blind since age 15. She requested accommodation from the test administrator for the Multistate Bar Exam and Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, both sourced to California from the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). Enyars specifically requested that she be allowed to take the bar exam using a laptop equipped with JAWS, an assistive screen-reader program that reads aloud text on a computer screen, and Zoomtext, a screen-magnification program that allows the user to adjust the font, size, and color of text and to control a high-visibility cursor. There were other requests that were granted but for these as NCBE refused to make the exams available in electronic format.
The exam administrator offered a choice between a live reader or an audio CD of the exam along with the use of a closed-circuit television for enlarging the text. Enyart applied to take the exams and subsequently cancelled because of these successive denials. She finally sued NCBE under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the regulations promulgated by the Department of Justice. The District Court judge hearing the two cases she brought granted her a preliminary injunction ordering the accommodations. The NCBE appealed.
The Court examined the specific provision that covers professional exams (42 U.S.C. § 12189) and the legislative history behind the act. The regulation under the Act states:
Any private entity offering an examination covered by this section must assure that . . . [t]he examination is selected and administered so as to best ensure that, when the examination is administered to an individual with a disability that impairs sensory, manual, or speaking skills, the examination results accurately reflect the individual’s aptitude or achievement level or whatever other factor the examination purports to measure, rather than reflecting the individual’s impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills . . . [.] 28 C.F.R. § 36.309(b)(1)(i).
The key words here are "so as to best ensure." The NCBE argued the regulation was invalid and instead asked the Court to substitute a lesser reasonableness standard. The best ensure standard went well beyond the act's requirements. The Court said that reasonableness was fine for employment, but professional exams were another matter entirely. Congress did not incorporate the reasonableness standard in § 12189 and that the DOJ regulation was not impermissible given the language and history of the section. Comparing Enyart's condition and her requests for accommodation were not out of line with the language of the law and regulation. There were details of doctor's statements supporting her requests as part of the evidence, which the trial court accepted.
NCBE next argued that Enyart had successfully taken other exams with less accommodation than that requested now. The Court noted that the evidence showed Enyart's disease was progressive, and what may have been viable in the past is not viable now. Moreover, the bar exam is not like other exams given its length and depth of question. The act itself was vague on specific accommodations specifically because the nature of the handicap and the change in technology that may be used to address it. What may meet the standard of "best ensure" will change with time.
The NCBE raised additional past efforts of accommodation by others, including a 10 year old settlement between DOJ and the American Association of State Social Work Boards. The AASSWB agreed to adopt a policy allowing vision impaired candidates to choose among a fixed list of available accommodations for the social work licensing exam. There was also mention of a Resolution of the National Federation for the Blind from 2000 that called upon the American Council on Education to ensure that it administered the GED exam in “the four standard media routinely used by blind persons to access standardized tests: large print, Braille,tape, and live reader.” Both, the Court noted, were 10 years old, and in any event, a resolution from the National Federation for the Blind does not define federal law or its obligations. Ouch.
The NCBE could have avoided all of this by simply being a bit more progressive in handling Enyart's request. The Ninth Circuit's examination of the law at issue was neither tortured nor illogical in its interpretation. I have to believe the NCBE has counsel that might have offered a similar interpretation before this outcome. I get the impression, as keepers of the gates into the legal profession, that they don't like being told what to do. If they were looking for a precedent that supported the view that they make the decision on what's reasonable accommodation, well, it's another case of be careful what you wish for. Then again, ADA law is not tested on the bar. If it was, maybe they would know better. The opinion is here. [MG]
October 28, 2010
Starting to Fill the Practical Skills Niche in the Legal Blogosphere
Dennis Kennedy, who needs no introduction to most legal information professionals, recently wrote in Starting to Fill the Practical Skills Niche:
My “beat” on [Legal Skills Prof Blog] will, not surprisingly, given my long history of writing and speaking about legal technology, focus on technology aspects of law practice and legal education, and ways we can teach and, most importantly, learn about technology. Ideally, we can all learn from each other.
I’ll admit to being a technology advocate. I can assure you that you won’t ever see my advocating a prohibition on the use of laptop computers in the classroom.
:) IMHO, the best way to get law students to stop surfing the Internet, playing online poker, Facebooking and tweeting in class is for law profs to give interesting lectures. The call for banning laptops because they are a "distraction in the classroom" may be because lectures aren't stimulating active listening and class participation. My opinion, not Kennedy's. [JH]
September 26, 2010
Timeline of Learning Machines
Check out the New York Time's graphic history of classroom technology from the original horn-book circa 1650 to the iPad. Hat tip to Resource Shelf. [JH]
September 21, 2010
Harvard Trying New Type of Digital Casebook
One more point to add to Joe's post on law eBooks is a story that highlights efforts at Harvard using technology to create an open casebook that can be edited, annotated, and updated on demand. The concept, as described in an article in the Atlantic, uses a tool called Collage which "lets professor cut down and annotate cases." The casebook created with Collage could handle multiple topics and would be available to other faculty who can add their own annotations and entries. I guess it's crowd sourcing case law from a crowd that theoretically knows knows their subjects.
Traditional casebooks at least have editorial control for their content. How that would factor into an open casebook environment is a question. Legal wikis are usually weak for the lack of interest from potential contributors, and from the decentralized editing. The available technology makes an open casebook viable because it would have one feature that commercial publishers dread: it can be copied and reused. Success depends on whether law school faculty would be willing to share expertise without compensation from a publisher or recognition from a tenure committee for the contribution as academic writing. The quality of the contributions is key. Students still have to learn and pass the bar, after all. Even at Harvard.
Something that's free isn't an instant alternative simply for that reason. My feeling is that it has the potential to disrupt parts of the commercial casebook market, depending on the adoption rate. As the article points out, the casebook method developed at Harvard in the 1870s took 20 years for widespread adoption. [MG]
September 08, 2010
Law and LIS Materials in iTunes U and YouTube EDU
Now that the academic fall semester has begun, it seems appropriate to point out some of the legal and library materials that appear on iTunes University and YouTube EDU. The trend is for universities to share lectures on substantive subjects via audio and/or video, and these sites aggregate a number of these offerings. It may be worthwhile for law students (and maybe even a few lawyers) to search these sites for materials that augment their class lectures.
For example, in iTunes, Emory University offers topics such as an Introduction to Torts, and Constitutional Law Parts 1 and 2, in their Mini Law School. These are audion files. Suffolk University offers 26 separate audio files of Legal Writing Tips. The University of Pennsylvania has 39 lectures on different aspects of property law, each lasting over an hour. There isn't a wide variety of legal topics represented in iTunes U, though it's worth browsing. Law is listed as a subtopic under social science.
YouTube University is a subset of Google's video sharing site. Access is by search, though it's important to note that the site features two search boxes, one for EDU and one for the general YouTube offerings. YouTube EDU by comparison probably has more materials available, if for no other reason than the ease to upload and access videos. A search for law brings up over 3,100 results. Some of these are false hits as laws of physics and other science disciplines show up in the results. Searching by legal topic will bring up more specific results. Administrative Law, for example, brings up relevant and peripheral materials. With only 16 results, however, browsing is easy.
One area not represented in iTunes U is library science. YouTube EDU has 11 results when searched as a phrase and 166 results generally. A lot of the material is peripheral, but there are videos of How Technology Will Shape the Future of Libraries from Simmons College, and the SILS Student Panel- Futures of Librarianship from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Much of the general searches consist of one-time lectures on libraries, and video guides to services and offerings from different libraries.
Note that YouTube EDU doesn't offer downloads, though with the number of software packages out there that harvest video from the web, this is merely a minor problem. Access to iTunes U is via the proprietary iTunes software provided by Apple. Most of these materials are free downloads and do not acquire an account for access. The YouTube EDU main page is here. [MG]
July 29, 2010
Academic Printing Not (Yet) Available in WestlawNext
As we get closer to the academic year, we have presentations from Lexis and Westlaw as updates on their systems. Today was Westlaw and WestlawNext. Nothing new, except it is my understanding that the WestlawNext interface does not support printing to the dedicated student and faculty Westlaw printers. West is working on the problem, but there is no timetable for solving it. The alternatives are to use the extensive electronic tools built into the system for highlighting, annotating, and saving documents. Maybe company-provided academic printing is overrated in these heady electronic days. Lexis, take note. [MG]
June 06, 2010
Nothing "Next Generation" About Rumored Kindle Arriving in August
In A slimmer Kindle coming in August?, Anne Dujmovic, an associate editor at CNET News, is reporting by way of a Bloomberg News report that a "next-generation" Kinder will be coming in August. It will be "slimmer," but I for one wouldn''t characterize it as "next-gen" because it won't have a color display and , more importantly, it won' t have a touch screen interface. Way behind the curve. [JH]
May 26, 2010
Law School Computing, Then and Now, Sort Of
There is a recent article in Inside Higher Ed that examines the proposition that the educational market is not important, or as important as it once was to tech companies. That's not to say that vendors don't like selling equipment or software to schools as much as how the relationship between vendors and educational institutions have changed. The article brought back memories of those heady days in the mid-1980s when law schools were able to negotiate substantial discounts or equipment donations from vendors. Law schools were vendor proving grounds for tech installations, and symbiotically, specific law schools could claim the mantle of technology leader. Not so much on that last point today. Every school is a technology leader, if by leader we mean mainstream technology consumer. Every school typically has a lab, wireless networking, wired classrooms, and an infrastructure that supports student computing. Tech support is tech support, but the standard front end is more or less defined by external expectations.
A second article several appeared few days later in the Chicago Tribune. The Illinois Institute of Technology announced that it was giving "free" iPads to all freshman in the fall semester. IIT, the article stated, will pay Apple $250,000 for the technology. That's 5,000 iPads at commercial rates. Doubtless that IIT got a bulk discount from Apple and the number of units is higher. That bulk purchase deal would be more or less the same for a commercial buyer these days. Apple isn't testing the iPad at IIT. The company is getting a bulk sale from an university it would have cozied up to 25 years ago. Why the change?
The fact is that computing standards weren't set back then, making the educational market a battleground for companies to create critical mass for their products. Law schools were courted by all kinds of marketers with the idea of creating installations that were used to market to law firms. Imagine ads reading "X number of law schools chose Wordstar as their word processor. Shouldn't you be using Wordstar?" Who can forget dot commands? Actually, a lot of people, which is why law schools have gone from proving grounds to just another customer. Standardization means no one has to fight over product variations. No one is battling over whether to install token ring instead of ethernet. Whatever battles go on today, they are not being fought much at the consumer level.
Students back then first came into contact with personal computers at a school, not at home. Those PCs did not have hard drives. They were equipped with only 16kb of memory, and cost some $2,400 each. I still have one of those original IBM PCs in my basement along with a monochromatic (amber, that is) Amdek monitor. The word "display" came much later when we all got more sophisticated and computing support got more complex. Compaq was an IBM clone running DOS and pushing against IBM for sales, though as I remember, even more expensive. Their marketing at the time should have been "IBM quality at Apple prices." Personal computing is a background fact of life now and those early comparisons no longer apply, except the characterization of Apple prices. Now basic student computing devices cost less that a typical semester's book list.
Consider how much the market has changed in that schools will standardize on a platform such as the Apple iPad as a matter of simplifying their own support costs AND paying someone to provide the hardware. Schools will now buy basic computing functionality from vendors (apps, email) as it's cheaper to outsource that stuff. And look at West's approach to WestlawNext. One would think that law schools were the natural place to try out the new interface. Selected firms and individuals got to shape the product. The only academic test now for the product is a brief period to check the roll-out to students en masse. It's sad in a way, that schools have come so far in their level of technical skill in managing computing that they have become just another customer, whether for hardware, software, or information. [MG]
May 14, 2010
Kindle Doesn't Cut It As A Classroom Device
The preliminary results are in from a test at the University of Virginia's Darden Business School: 75% to 80% would not recommend the Kindle as a classroom device but 90% would recommend it as a personal reading device. None of the news stories went beyond this basic statement, but I can imagine reasons why the survey came out the way it did. Most personal reading is linear. Most classroom use is not. In law school, at least, it's jumping from parts of the book to others depending on the lesson and what what the instructor wants to emphasize. I have to believe that the situation is the same in a business school setting where there are more graphics, charts, and formulas.
While we're on the subject, the idea of porting textbooks to electronic devices seems simple enough if you treat the content as words on an electronic page. Why not create textbooks that are designed for electronic devices. Bring in multimedia. Why just have the text of Palsgraf v. Long Island when a short movie could illustrate it. Why not have alternative scenarios and ask if they would fall under the negligence standard? Sure, something like that would make a textbook more expensive, but it would also make it more interesting, especially to our digital natives. Then again, there are ways to make cheap little recreations. YouTube is full of them, I'm told. The approach would obviously not work for all subjects. A securities class wouldn't necessarily benefit from from a video of a banker shoveling documents in a briefcase before heading off to the Caymans, or that of an SEC staffer checking out an adult site while working, but there are subjects where it would be appropriate. How about a short scenario of contract negotiations and an exercise asking whether there was a meeting of the minds? Let's see if we can do more than port words. [MG]
March 05, 2010
Using Twitter to Change Classroom Dynamics
There's an interesting article in Mashable that discusses how Twitter can significantly boost class participation. According to the article, "Twitter is an inexpensive solution to the growing problem of increasing class sizes. It is a tried-and-true platform to let conversations flourish." The post also points to a good read in academHack titled, Twitter for Academia. Great post offering suggested uses of Twitter in the classroom. Also, check out Dr. Monica Rankin video on her Twitter Experiment at UT Dallas. [RJ]
February 06, 2010
Behind the Scenes Look at Common Craft Video ProductionEver wonder how the very creative folks at Common Craft produce their "Plain English" videos like this one on cloud computing? Check out their blog post, Scenes from a Common Craft Video Shoot. [JH]
January 15, 2010
DOJ and Universities Settle Over Kindle DX Access to Blind Students
The Justice Department has reached agreements with several universities that considered the Kindle as a teaching device. The concern from the Department is that the Kindle's lack of audio menu navigation for blind or low vision individuals violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The agreements call the the universities not to purchase, recommend, or promote the use of the Kindle DX, or any other dedicated electronic book reader unless the device is fully accessible to vision impaired students. The universities named in the DOJ press release are Case Western Reserve, Pace, and Reed College. Agreements were reached earlier with Arizona State.
Note that many major publishers objected last year to the text-to-speech feature for content as they believed it would undermine the market for audio books. Amazon did, in fact, disable the feature when the objections were raised. Looking back, it's hard to believe that anyone with a Kindle who licensed a text (you'll never own it, read the EULA) would actually buy a second copy as audio. Then again, Washington lobbyist Steven Metalitz who represents content holders such as the RIAA and the MPAA objected to a worldwide treaty that would guarantee access to copyrighted material by the blind. His objection is based on the premise that such a treaty would weaken copyright protection norms. Give in to the blind and copyright enforcement starts down that slippery slope, to, I don't know, rationality? [MG]
October 27, 2009
Private School Replaces 20,000 Volume Collection With 65 Kindles
Well, we knew a story like this was coming sooner than later, and here it is. USA Today is reporting on the first school, public or private, to replace its library collection (about 20,000 volumes) with databases and 65 circulating Kindles. The circulation desk now is a coffee bar with a $12,000 espresso machine, which inspires the student nickname "12k Cafe" for the place. Welcome to the library at Cushing Academy in New England.
The school sees value in expanding the collection by replacing print with a larger electronic collection for less money. Headmaster Jim Tracy says he has hired more librarians to help students navigate the wider electronic offerings. The new library seems to sit fine with students who are "digital natives," as they say at Harvard. The criticisms are plenty, but mostly revolve around removing print in favor of a purely electronic library collection rather than mixing the two. Then there is the question of relying on Amazon as an exclusive vendor, though that will likely change as Google, Barnes & Noble and the rest get their offerings together. The one point that stood out for me was what happens when technology improvements and market conditions make the current hardware and data obsolescent? I suppose that this is going to require careful management to make sure the program goes forward. We're used to the replace and update cycles in academic and corporate environments, so there is experience here. Can it be applied to what amounts to a curated electronic collection that completely replaces print? It's another argument for the librarian as technologist instead of ceding that responsibility to IT.
The USA Today story is here. [MG]
October 12, 2009
The Problem With Online Catalogs Is....
The academic catalog wars are recently in the news. The Chronicle of Higher Education has two separate articles on the issue. One is the story, with comments, and the second is a follow-up that highlights the best of the comments. The problem, apparently, is how to find stuff in the library collection, whether in print or electronic. Depending on your point of view, the problems lie with a) catalogs, b) students, or c) librarians. Google lurks in the background as the level of practice and expectation for the average catalog searcher, so let's add them in as a potential d).
Let's start with Google. Google and other search engines are nothing but keyword searches. The closest thing to searching fields is Advanced Search that allows for searching within specific domains. The rest is a broad variation of searching with slight Boolean tendencies, if Boolean consisted of "and," "and not," and phrase search. Students all over the world live with Google searches because they are good enough. Librarians live with them as well because they offer useful results for finding very specific things.
Take, however, someone looking for a form settlement agreement in an employment discrimination case. A catalog search will likely yield few direct results, though such forms are likely in Title VII litigation practice guides. Even keyword searches in a catalog wouldn't clarify a likely source in that context unless terms appeared in a Table of Contents. One would have to know this, and that is where the librarian expertise comes in. However, search "title VII settlement form release" in Google and dozens of examples of actual settlement agreements come up. The problem with these results is that they are specific to the facts of their litigation and may not be appropriate to copy in for use in real life (though maybe in a trial advocacy class). Yet, these Google results may be exactly what the searcher wants. A catalog search may provide a context and no immediate results, and Google may provide results without a context.
From one perspective (the librarians?) it's the student's fault for not understanding how a catalog is organized and what are the best techniques for searching it. From the student's perspective it's the librarian's fault for creating a system that tracks library materials in a form that is more complicated than necessary (to them). There is practicality in MARC records. There is no doubt of that. However, most searchers who need help with using the catalog tend to use keyword searches rather than field searches. Is it a matter of educating people on the finer points of a catalog search even when they may not have much interest past finding their book? It seems often that someone simply wants to find an item in the collection and aren't interested in the rest of the details. Search "tax notes" as a title search and depending on the number of titles that pops up the record may show up on the second page of results. Why? Because the options in online catalogs tend to display results by oldest, newest, author, or title. Alphabetically, Tax Notes comes in at the 20th letter of the alphabet. There is never an option for display by relevance, something upon which Google and their algorithms base their success.
Maybe the answer is for Google to provide the front end for catalogs, combining their search expertise with catalog field searching. Conducting a search may not be too hard or too simple, but may be just right. [MG]
July 31, 2009
The Educause 2009 survey of critical IT issues in higher education was released on the Educause Review web site. Topping the list among the top ten issues was IT Funding. Let's face it, funding is the number one issue on everybody's critical list. The full list is as follows:
1. Funding IT
2. Administrative/ERP Information Systems
5. Teaching and Learning with Technology
6. Identity/Access Management
7. Governance, Organization, and Leadership
8. Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity
9. Agility, Adaptability, and Responsiveness
10. Learning Management Systems
Number 5 concerns me. In the notes to the top ten list, they explain that "the role of the CIO and other IT leaders is expanding to encompass many teaching and learning domains." In fact, this concern jumped from number 9 last year to number 5 this year. Teaching and learning with technology has been a significant part of many librarian's jobs. Historically, librarians were the first professionals to embrace new forms of technology and show others how to use it effectively in order to learn. In our case, to find, research, and learn about the law.
I reviewed the AALL core competencies to see how this ideal is represented by our national standards. I am somewhat disappointed to see that the standards for technology and for teaching are not joined in any meaningful way. Standard 4 is about Information Technology. We use terms like "practical use of" and "policy formation." Standard 6 centers on teaching. Here we come closer to the role CIOs hope to adopt (teaching and learning with technology), but we are still shy about identifying technology as a siginicant teaching vehicle for research and information literacy in the legal profession. Nor do we take responsiblity for embracing our role in this process. The subpoints in standard 6 revert back to "training" and "retrieval of information" instead of incorporating the elements of standard 4 into standard 6.
This is a problem.
Personally, I have trouble of thinking as our IT folks as educators. I do not mean to sterotype, but these professionals are not known for their people skills, or their end user savvy. Their ability to evaluate methods to teach effectively is hampered by the fact that they do not teach classes at their institution. They have other super power skills for which I am eternally grateful.
This role may not be the sole province of any particular professional, but I see it as a role filled more appropriately by an educational technologist, librarian, or any other educator that can envision changing their students' lives by teaching their "thing" with technology. Not by a technologist who uses technology to teach. There is a subtle difference.
Nevertheless, when it comes time to change our core competencies, I hope we can connect a line between teaching and technology. We need to embrace the leadership role that these two important facets of our profession place on us. We should not relenquish this role or our leadership in this are to those who do not teach. (vs)
June 19, 2009
CS-SIS Web 2.0 Challenge 2009
The CS-SIS is rolling out their Web 2.0 Challenge again this summer, a fantastic opportunity to learn about and play with new technologies that can be implemented in any kind of law library. The official announcement is below:
Announcing the Web 2.0 Challenge 2009: A Free, Online Course to Introduce Law Librarians to Web 2.0 Technologies
Last year the AALL Computing Services Special Interest Section sponsored the first Web 2.0 Challenge, an online course to introduce law librarians to social software and how to use it in their libraries. The course was so popular CS-SIS is sponsoring it again in 2009.
The Web 2.0 Challenge will provide a free, comprehensive, and social online learning opportunity designed for law librarians that incorporates hands-on use of these technologies. The course is intended for law librarians who have little experience with these technologies but are interested in learning more.
The online course will take place between August 3 and September 6. The five week course will cover these areas:
Week 1: Blogs & RSS
Week 2: Flickr & Social Bookmarking Software
Week 3: Social Networking Software and Twitter
Week 4: Wikis and LibGuides
Week 5: Web 2.0 @ Your Library
Participants will be required to complete a series of weekly activities, including viewing an instructional screencast; completing hands-on exercises based on the lesson; weekly blogging about their experience; and participating in a weekly small group chat session. The course will culminate with each participant developing a proposal for implementing a specific social software tool in their library.
Full enrollment will be limited to approximately one hundred participants. However, course content will be freely viewable to anyone who wishes to follow along. Enrolled participants who complete all activities are eligible for final prize drawings (prizes provided by CS-SIS). Certificates will also be awarded to all participants who complete the course.
We anticipate opening enrollment June 22nd. There is no charge for this course and enrollment will be offered on a first come first served basis.
For more information, visit the CS-SIS website. If you have any questions, you can contact Meg Kribble (mkribble AT law.harvard,edu) or Sally Irvin (irvinsa AT wfu.edu).
June 16, 2009
Attend the CALI Conference Virtually – for Free!
The CALI Conference for Law School Computing always has an interesting mix of sessions for librarians, IT folk and law faculty, and new this year, all the sessions will be webcast live! Using the open source web meeting software Dimdim, each session will have a live video feed and chat room.
The conference kicks off this Thursday, June 18, and runs through Saturday, June 20. The links for all the conference session webcasts are available on the conference program website. While all the sessions look fantastic, the following may be of particular interest to librarians:
- Authentication and Online Document Repositories
- Critical Mass is Critical – A View Into the Changing World of Scholarly Communications
- Firefox Add-ons for Legal Research
- No Carrot No Stick No Budget No Problem:Tools for the 21st Century Library
- A Holistic Approach to Academic Computing: Librarians and Instructional Technologists Are Better Working Together
- Introducing and Integrating Free Internet Legal Research Into Classroom
- Crowdsourcing and Open Access v2.0: Harnessing the Power of Peer Production to Disseminate Historical Records and Legal Scholarship
- Kindle for Law Schools
- Using LibGuides to build Legal Research Guides
- Building awesome library web apps with open source
- Coursecrafting: (def.) Mashing up legal research, moot court, skills training and instructional technology into something new and innovative!
- Thinking Outside the (Glass) Box: Digital Displays in Law Libraries
June 11, 2009
LibGuides: the Future of Research Guides?
Chances are, you’ve heard of LibGuides, a platform for creating research guides from Springshare. For any readers exhausted by all the talk of web 2.0 and the latest tech fads, put the skepticism aside, LibGuides really does live up to the hype.
Putting together a research guide with LibGuides is easy (if you can navigate your way around Microsoft Word, you can manage LibGuides). A single guide is actually multiple boxes of content, anything from database links, a catalog search box, RSS feeds, embedded videos and more. On top of that, those boxes of content can be shared across different guides; for example, if I create a box with a tutorial on terms & connectors searching, I could import that box into other research guides. There’s an investment of time required to create content on LibGuides, but the task of updating those guides should be faster than paper or regular HTML guides, and could be shared.
The other investment required is money – a LibGuides subscription ranges from $899 to $2,999 annually. However, it’s a fully hosted system, requiring no IT support or resources to setup or maintain. A number of law libraries have already jumped on the LibGuides bandwagon, and the AALL CS-SIS is maintaining a list of those libraries on their wiki.
One last thing: the exact pronunciation of “LibGuides” has been a source of some controversy (well, at least at my institution). Thankfully, the company has settled the debate in their LibGuides F.A.Q. It’s “Lib” as in “liberation”. [EF]
Editor's Note: Please welcome Elizabeth Farrell to LLB as a contributing editor. Elizabeth is the Research/Instructional Technology Librarian at Florida State University College of Law Research Center. She recently has co-developed and taught an upper level course in environmental legal research at FSU. Elizabeth received her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati and her M.S. from Florida State University. Before joining FSU, she was a senior legal research associate at LexisNexis.
Elizabeth's post on LibGuides is the first of many I believe LLB readers will find informative and stimulating. I agree with Elizabeth. LibGuides looks like a great web service for creating hosted research guides that has legs, meaning its adoption base is already sizable, continues to grow, and has, in my opinion, proved itself sufficiently that it is not a fad. I would love to use it in my little county law library but the licensing fee may be too pricey, in other words, decision pending.
Welcome aboard Elizabeth! -- Joe Hodnicki