Educational Technology and the Social Web

September 25, 2009

Do schools kill creativity?

Filed under: Education and Technology,Social Software — Ken @ 6:49 pm

I found this presentation by Sir Ken Robinson fascinating. As you reflect on your own education, was creativity encouraged or even allowed to flourish?  I know my schooling was much more about conformity than it was about individual expression or creative thought.


February 20, 2009


Filed under: Social Software — Ken @ 9:03 pm
Tags: , ,

Twitter is all the rage as evidenced by the $35 million in VC money they secured last week in this not-so-stellar economy. Pretty cool considering they haven’t generated any revenue as a company. But with about 5 million users to date (and growing–count myself among the newly minted tweeters) the question as to how Twitter fits into an organization’s social media / Web strategy is starting to take shape.  The answer depends largely on what the organization is trying to acheive with this medium. Jeremiah Owyang has a nice write up on the evolution of brands on Twitter. I try to stay informed about how these products and services came about.  Check out the LA Times interview with Jack Dorsey, one of Twitter’s creators, for a history of how Twitter came to be Twitter.

June 19, 2008

Transforming Legal Education

Filed under: Education and Technology,Social Software — Ken @ 2:12 pm

I am here at the University of Maryland School of Law attending CALI 2008.  I will be live blogging for most of the sessions I attend. Here’s the opening plenary.

The title of this year’s conference is Transforming Legal Education.  John Mayer is opening the session with slide montage of all previous CALI conferences to Alice Cooper’s “Eighteen”. The opening plenary is by Paul Maharg from Glasgow Graduate School of Law. He recently published a book “Transforming Legal Education”.  His themes for today: signature pedagogy, transactional learning, SIMPLE (SIMulated Professional Learning Environment), Into the future.

Transforming Legal Education book coverA main focus of his book is how simulations can be used in the teaching of law. Thorndike and Dewey in the 1920s had opposing views of how we understand education. Thorndike’s view won out according to Maharg, a view that emphasized a teacher dominated classroom. Dewey promoted experiential learning. See Dewey’s Lab school for more information. Four key themes to Maharg’s book: experience, ethics, technology, and collaboration. Maharg’s school promotes transactional learning, a specific form of problem based learning that is distinguished by active learning. In Educating Lawyers (Carnigie Study) the signature pedagogies are surface structure, tacit structure, deep structure, and shadow structure which are fundamental features of the case method. Marhag argues that his four key themes align with the signature pedagogy themes but this exposes gaps in how law is taught. For example, our use of technology is based upon the characteristics of deep structure, we’re forced to deploy technology in a way that fits outcomes of deep structure pedagogy.

Glasgow School of Law has developed an open source simulation environment that promotes transactional learning. It is being used not only in the teaching of law but other disciplines such as social work and architecture. A demonstration of SIMPLE shows us a very clean interface and an example project in the tool. Students are divided into groups of four, documents are prepared by adjunct faculty and they mentor and guide the students. The student’s goal is to achieve a settlement in 12 weeks. Project criteria include a body of evidence that is used to measure student learning and progress. Student feedback says that they learn extended teamwork, real legal fact finding, real legal research etc.  Plagiarism and free loading are guarded against because of the style of teaching, situational, project, collaborative work.

Going forward, SIMPLE will grow to include 3D simulations, perhaps data from Google Earth, and other resources to make it a more rich environment for learning. A little more on transactional learning from the SIMPLE web site:

What is transactional learning?

The common denominator in the use of the SIMPLE application is the legal transaction. The team has developed the concept of ‘transactional learning’, with the following characteristics:

  1. It is active learning – transactional learning goes beyond learning about legal actions to learningfrom legal actions.
  2. It is based on doing legal transactions – students learn about the practical realities of legal actions.
  3. It involves reflection on learning – for example documenting a file, thinking across transactions, reflecting upon group process.
  4. It is based on collaborative learning – students help each other to understand legal concepts and procedures by discussing issues, reviewing actions in a group, giving peer feedback on group work, and so on. In other words, students begin to learn how to leverage knowledge amongst themselves, and to trust each other’s developing professionality (learning about know who and know why, as well as know what).
  5. It supports holistic or process learning – in seminars and lectures and in their reading students engage with ideas and form understandings of legal concepts, documents, actions and the like. However such learning is ‘part to whole’ – the SIMPLE application provides opportunities for ‘whole to part’ learning, and for learning about legal process.

SIMPLE Foundation:

May 2, 2007

Democratizing Internet Video

Filed under: Education and Technology,Social Software — Ken @ 3:48 pm

It has been sometime since my last post but what better topic to resume this blog then to comment on the explosion of video on the Internet and how this can be leveraged for educational purposes. A colleague from Canada whose blog I read occasionally has an interesting post on a video aggregator from Democracy has produced a vodcast player that allows you to subscibe to internet video delivered via RSS. YouTube, GoogleVideo, and the like have enabled millions to post their own content but little of it has any true value in a traditional educational setting. However, with the Democracy player imagine the possibiltities where web 2.0 meets the law school curriculum: a recent report recommends that law schools do a better job of connecting legal practice to teaching and learning so that students are more prepared for the practice of law when they leave law school. One way to supplement this effort may be to bring students into the courts to observe proceedings. Outside of clinical experiences and moot court students may never see the inside of a court room during their time in school. Enter court web casts. Several state courts record their proceedings and stream the video or audio to the web. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in fact webcasts oral arguments live and also provides an archive of past proceedings. With the Democracy player, one could find this video and in effect set up channels dedicated to real court room proceedings. Arguments could be analyzed, dissected, and discussed. Video allows one to not only study the merits of an argument but the body language and non-verbal communication that well-skilled practitioners wield so artfully. But alas, many of these courts do not provide their content via RSS so one is still required to manually check for new content. All in good time…

March 1, 2006

Blogs in Legal Scholarship

Filed under: Education and Technology,Social Software — Ken @ 4:31 am

I recently attended a conference called “Bloggership: How Blogs are Transforming Legal Scholarship” hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. The conference addressed how blogs are affecting the legal academy and featured 20 or so leading law professor bloggers.

The first session of the day focused on whether law blogs are a form of legal scholarship and featured three law professors with three different views that helped shape the debate. Professor Doug Berman from Ohio State University opened the session. He argued that the traditional medium of legal scholarship, namely, law review articles, while still important are an antiquated medium. Most people, in fact, most law professors and students rarely read them in their entirety. There shear length is overwhelming and he cited examples from the 1950s, 1970s, and 1990s to demonstrate how the average law review article in length and in the number of citations has doubled with each succesive generation. Prof. Berman takes the position that blogs should be a part of legal scholarship. They enable law professors to reach a wide(r) audience and break down the barriers to access inherent in more traditional forms of legal scholarship.

Professor Lawrence Solum from University of Illinois had in my opinion the most compelling position of the session. He began with the premise that blogs certainly have plenty to do with legal scholarship but that blogs themselves aren’t the driver of transformation. Other forces such as the emergence of the short form, the obsolesce of exclusive rights, and the trend towards the disintermediation of legal scholarship are acting to reshape legal scholarship. Each of these forces reduces search and access costs to legal scholarhsip. The blog facilitates these forces but is not in and of itself the only form these forces can take.

Professor Kate Litvak from the University of Texas took an opposing position. She argues that blogs have no affect on legal scholarship, that a blog lacks privacy and well-specified rules, two properties necessary for the fostering of early ideas, and that blogs are more akin to a water cooler conversation that has been bugged than to any form of scholarship.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this session happened during the introduction of the session. Professor Paul Caron from the University of Cincinnatti and the Editor-in-Chief of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Blog at