Blogs in the Law School Classroom – Everyone Wins!

Lots of law faculty and law librarians (and at least one Dean) areposting to blogs created at CALI’s Classcaster Legal EducationBlog/Podcast Network.

One of those that I kept runningacross because of the interesting posts was the AELR Blog. It seemedlike someone different was posting every day so I decided to follow upand asked Professor James Duggan at Southern Illinois University Schoolof Law what was up.

The response was even more interesting than I expected.

Heand Library Director Frank Houdek are co-teaching a course in AdvancedElectronic Legal Research and one of the requirements of the course isfor students to find and post relevant articles from the Internet.Here’s the description from the syllabus…

"…Students must subscribe via RSS feed to at least three (3) researchand/or legal technology blogs. Students will be expected to monitor theblogs on a continuing basis and to post information learned from them tothe AELR Blog on a regular basis during the semester (i.e., at leastonce a week, minimum total of 15 postings). While the postings will notbe graded, their level of thoroughness, accuracy, critical analysis)will be considered in determining the "participation" component of thefinal course grade…"

This is cool on so many different levels.

First, it exposes students to all sorts of information on the Web.

Second, all of the other students benefit from the entire class’s work.

Third, everyone else who wants to follow along and can participate (comments are enabled on the blog).

Fourth, students will learn about vetting sources and authority ofthe things they post. Others are reading their work and can see if theydo a good job of finding and analysing the quality of the articles theyfind.

Would something like this be useful for any law school course? Idon’t see why not. It makes the subject matter come alive withreal-time, present-day relevance. It engages the students to fit whatthey are learning into larger contexts. It challenges and teaches the instructors, too.

Here’s what else Professor Duggan had to say…

"…We feel the assignment serves two major purposes:

(1) by having studentsmonitor legal research/technology blogs, they are receiving a "painfree" and self-initiated supplement to the course materials that weprovide to them for the subject matter of the course;

(2) by havingstudents also monitor at least one blog in a subject field of theirchoice (e.g., family law, criminal law, etc.) they are introduced to avaluable method for keeping abreast of developments in their subjectspecialities. .."

Right on!

This is the read/write web applied to education. This is Rip/Mix/Learn.

If you are a law faculty at a CALI-member law school (almost all US law schools), you can setup a blog at Classcaster yourself for your courses. It’s free, and it will benefit your students.

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