Note: below is a preview of the talk I am giving tomorrow at AALS in NYC.  I am speaking on the Curriculum Committee Program, along with Warren Binford (Williamette), Todd Rakoff (Harvard), Deborah Ramirez (Northeastern), and Ellen Suni (U of Missouri-Kansas City).  Really looking forward to the discussion.  If you're around, please come by; it's from 1:30-3:15, tomorrow, Fri. Jan 3rd.

There are several reasons why law schools should begin to incorporate more online learning into our teaching.  One of the main reasons is that we will begin to develop expertise within the academy on how these technologies can best be used.  The edtech market is booming – in 2013, investment in K-12 alone, was close to half billion dollars.  In higher education we have Coursera, edX, Udacity.

There’s something happening here, and we have to know what it is. Yet few in the legal academy are looking into how we can use technology to reconceptualize our own overall approach to teaching.  If we embrace online technologies now, we will begin to develop expertise within the legal academy about how to best use newer technologies for legal education.

This is important because it will put us in a position to incorporate insights gained from the learning sciences into our teaching – like the importance of feedback and assessment.

Online materials can provide feedback – through quizzes and other assessment tools.  And when the materials are online, student who have not mastered them can go back and watch the videos again and redo quizzes, as many times as needed to reach mastery. This gives students much more control over their own learning and provides all students with the tools to master the relevant material before graduation.

And, when students learn online, we can learn how our students learn.  Now, students take a test at the end of the semester, yet it is hard for us to use the results to assess our own teaching.

In the future, data relating to every keystroke, every video watched, skipped, fast forwarded, rewound, will be collected and available for evaluation.  We can use that bigdata to evaluate what works and then to iterate based on the results.

But we can’t even start to learn about how these technologies work until we have the underlying teaching materials – LegalED is working to develop that library of resources. Because we can’t begin to flip the classroom if we have no materials to use for doing it.




AuthorMichele Pistone