Law School Innovations and Jim Milles on Podcasting

Elmer Masters, CALI’s Director of Internet Development is participating in the group blog "Law School Innovations" and his first post elicited this comment from im Milles on podcasting…

"…Secondly–and as a podcaster myself, this may be surprising coming fromme–I’m not sure that the CALI model of course podcasting representsinnovation. The most engaging law school classes tend to be those witha high degree of interaction among the instructor and the students. I’mnot talking about the tedious first-year "Socratic method" which seemslargely to be a thing of the past anyway; I’m talking about smallerclasses and electives where students are truly engaged in the subjectmatter. Podcasting in this context seems to be a step back, to the"sage on the stage" model of teaching. I think podcasting has greatvalue, but I’m not sure that classroom instruction is its best use…."

Emphasis mine.

The first and most important point to be made is that CALI does not have a model of podcasting. It’s the faculty who use Classcaster that decide how to incorporate the podcasting into their classroom. We provide the service and give faculty a forum for sharing ideas on what works and what doesn’t.

Some faculty chose to merely record the classroom. This was very well received by some students in the class for the following reasons…

  • Can re-listen to the lecture
  • Can review specific parts of the lecture when going over their notes
  • Don’t get left behind when necessarily missing a class

Recording lectures is not innovative, but the convenient and effortless ability to do so and distribute it to students anywhere in the world is.Using the web as a simple medium of transport is one of its most basic innovations.

Some faculty decided to record weekly summaries where they re-emphasized important points, clarified points that seemed to generate confusion in the classroom or used the opportunity to expand on explanations when the class time ran out. None of this is particularly innovative, but it does add value to the course (at least the students say so in their survey answers) and the ease of which this is done makes it innovative.

There is another critical innovation in podcasting that Jim does not mention, but I know he is aware of from conversations I have had with him.

Podcasting makes you are a better teacher. It forces you to gather your thoughts and present them in an orderly fashion. More than a few faculty have told me that they listen to their own podcasts as a way to improve their lecturing. This is a form of deliberative practice. You get better doing something by doing it over and over and by reflecting on how you did it and podcasting is the method by which this happens.

Several faculty have also told me that they listen to other faculty’s podcasts as a way to get tips and ideas for better presenting material in the classroom. This is teachers teaching teachers. There are rare, few opportunities for law faculty to observe other law faculty in action without the social overhead of visiting another’s classroom.

If there is a CALI model for legal education course podcasting, it is to create an ecosystem that allows for seemless sharing of excellent teaching practices, deliiberate practice and for students to benefit from all of this.

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