Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Effective Methods for Teaching Legal Writing on Online

Thomson_david_2  Legal_writing_institute_logoFor the millennial generation, technology is not a separate idea.  It's more like air or water--something that is plentiful and constantly surrounding us.  The millennial generation also believes that e-mail is for old people.  They text, they IM (instant message), and they get only maybe four or five email messages a day . . . and those email messages are from the law school administration, so the students delete them.  All this according to David Thomson of the University of Denver, who presented this morning on Effective Methods for Teaching Legal Writing Online.

He addressed concerns that professors have about electronic teaching and on-line distance learning.  In course design, he emphasized various delivery formats for a class (using a color-coded syllabus).  It included:

  • on-line power point with a voice over (his voice, explaining the slides)
  • asynchronous forum (when people contribute to the forum at different times)
  • telephone calls (another form of technology), and
  • live class (for material that is best taught live).

He discussed the expectations that he communicates to students about the course, and their understanding of the online learning environment.

He also discussed technology that makes the teaching and learning possible, with a special focus on technology that supports collaborative learning.  In addition to online tutorials, he discussed:

  • forums
  • wikis
  • wimba
  • online research exercises
  • ICW online (to learn ALWD and Bluebook citation)

His experience? 

  • He's had some of the best teaching experiences ever since going high-tech.
  • Students like the convenience of learning this way, and that they can adjust their schedules to this new learning
  • Students feel more connected to their teachers
  • This is at least as good, and in many ways better, than face-to-face

To see the slides and learn more about Professor Thomson's highly informative presentation, click here.

To read his new article about this, click here to download his paper from SSRN.


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