(I won this cute t-shirt at the Fastcase booth.)
Another interesting, informative, fast-paced, and exhausting day at CALIcon12. Again, this will be a long post about technology in legal education. You’ve been warned.
The day started off with a plenary speech from Audrey Watters, who was introduced as “a technology writer, rabble-rouser, and folklorist who writes the Hack Education blog.” The “Three laws of robotics” was her theme, and I suppose if I’d been listening more to my spouse, I would’ve known exactly what those three laws were, but even though I didn’t, I kind of knew, just by living through pop culture. Something to do with how the robots aren’t supposed to harm the humans, but yet, in every bit of robot sci-fi fiction that I know about, that’s exactly what ends up happening.*
Specifically, she was talking about robots in education and what that means for us as educators, for education as a whole, and for humans in general. Heavy stuff, right?
She discussed the issues involved in robotic grading, about what it means to tell students that humans aren’t going to grade their papers, and about what that says about the respect/importance we put on education. She talked about how kids don’t seem to have the same fear of robots that many of us do (or the icky feeling about them that many of us have), and that, in fact, they want robots to be their friend, they think robots will care, and they want robots to teach them.
She talked about how, for some people, the possibility of automated teaching leads to a terrible promise of education, that we’ll be able to gain this incredible knowledge in a way that isn’t scary at all, and that education would lead to an exercise in conformity and predictability, rather than creativity. At what point, then, do we start thinking of ourselves as a machine?
So, in other words, it was a real uplifter.
- I then went to a presentation called, “Thinking outside the cylinder: utilizing unusual tools to teach.” The law professor presenter discussed high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech methods of teaching that could be employed in a way to get law students to sit up and take notice. Most of the high tech tools I’d heard of before,** but his low-tech and no-tech tools were interesting and fun. (They included magic and deception.)
I then attended “Technology that counts: tools that improve the quality of legal research instruction.” Yay! One about legal research. Am totally trying to come up with something legal-research-y to pitch as a presentation of my own next year (except not really) (though, maybe).
This was an interesting presentation because many of the things the librarian-instructors talked about here are things that we try to do in our classes: namely, flip the classroom, which is fancy-schmancy talk for doing actual exercises in class, while leaving the instruction and demonstration parts for the students to do outside of class, on their own.
For the instructors, it means a lot more work – creating videos, tutorials, quizzes, etc., that can be done outside of class in addition to designing worthwhile and relevant in-class exercises. Also, I’m always wondering if the students are actually doing the outside work. But they said that the students were doing it, and that the students really seemed to apprecite the flip.
Next on deck was “The Legal iPad Revolution.” The presenter talked about the rise of the iPad in the legal field and consequently in legal education, both from an instructor’s perspective and from a student’s. She discussed where she thought the device could be used in those arenas where it might be currently under-used, and talked about specific apps that might make some uses more accessible.
I was kind of surprised at the number of people there who said that their faculty and students used iPads widely – for school/work-related purposes. There were two people there from two different schools – Lewis & Clark and Boston (U or College, I can’t remember) who said that their school had a program whereby profs would be given an iPad and told that if they: (1) used the iPad for teaching for three terms and (2) blogged about the experience, the iPad was theirs. Here’s the blog from the Lewis & Clark profs. I can’t wait to read it.
ALSO, somebody mentioned “Air Display,” which I understood to be the very thing I was looking for yesterday – an app that would simulate a dual display on my iPad. It’s possible that I misunderstood it, though, and it’s an app that somehow taps into your computer, thereby giving a second monitor to your computer. Regardless, it costs 10 bucks and I’m a cheapo, so I’m not giving it a try.
Lastly, but by no means leastly, I attended “XtraNormal – Good for more than just laughs,” which was a discussion about how trial advocacy instructors use XtraNormal videos to teach students how to improve their client interviewing (and interaction) skills.
Despite the name, it was actually pretty funny. There’s something about those XtraNormal videos, with their choppy, electronic voices that don’t have quite the right inflection, and their jerky movements that don’t quite match up with what’s going on.
They had some really interesting ideas, and it sounded fun, but it also sounded kind of difficult to actually plan out and then “direct.” It also brought the whole robots theme back to where we had started the day.
I’m more exhausted than I was yesterday. Every time I go to a conference, I remember that, yes, in fact, I do have plenty of introvert-ish tendencies (library school tricked me into thinking I was an extrovert. I was just an extrovert as compared with most of my classmates.)
Still, can’t believe it’s almost over! More to come tomorrow. If you’re really interested, you can check out the #CALIcon12 hashtag on Twitter, too.
*As Ms. Watters put it, “Of course, not all robots have been informed of the three laws of robotics, so it’s hard to know if particular robots have been informed on the rule not to do us harm.”
**Except for Doceri – and somebody else talked about Doceri later and I decided I have to have it, because it turns your iPad into something that can control your laptop and bwah-ha-ha-ha! I’d finally have a way to remotely control a Prezi being shown on an iPad and still be able to walk around the classroom, which is my current dream. Yes, I know I can control a Prezi on the classroom computer from one of the remotes that we already have. Don’t piss on my dream here, people.