Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
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Poll

How should law schools approach computers in the classroom.

Ban Computers completely, it will help students learn more
 1 (11.1%)
Ban Computers Completely because it distracts everyone else.
 0 (0%)
Monitor/Limit internet usage. (e.g., teacher could see who is online)
 0 (0%)
Just have a policy and operate it on the honor's system
 2 (22.2%)
Allow open use web surfers are free to dig their own grave or learn on their own..
 6 (66.7%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Author Topic: Computers in the classroom  (Read 1561 times)

jack24

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Computers in the classroom
« on: October 20, 2010, 12:42:29 PM »
Some professors say that it is their job to command the attention of the class, and if the class were engaging/demanding enough, very few students would surf the internet.

First of all, would the limitation of distractions really increase student performance/education?  Is there a correlation between computer use during class and test performance?  Is there a causal link?

Second, If a student can get good grades without paying attention, why should they have to listen?  Why do they have to go to class at all?

Finally, what do you think about having an internet free section of a classroom. (e.g., front three rows, left side of the class, etc.)

Specks

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Re: Computers in the classroom
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2010, 04:02:55 PM »
Yes, there is a correlation between those who type and those who write. Granted, there are exceptions but most people tend to be kinesthetic learners. This means they remember things better when they physically write it down.

As for class that depends on the professor. If you can get good grades, bully for you. However, if you have a very specific professor who gives you lots of material not covered in the book, you'll be SOL if you don't listen in class. That's my two cents anyways.

jack24

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Re: Computers in the classroom
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2010, 11:42:19 PM »
if you have a very specific professor who gives you lots of material not covered in the book, you'll be SOL if you don't listen in class. That's my two cents anyways.

This assumes that professors even remember what they covered in class. 
"Ah yes, that exam answer sounds like something I would say... yes, excellent."


Thane Messinger

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Re: Computers in the classroom
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2010, 01:48:49 AM »
if you have a very specific professor who gives you lots of material not covered in the book, you'll be SOL if you don't listen in class. That's my two cents anyways.

This assumes that professors even remember what they covered in class. 
"Ah yes, that exam answer sounds like something I would say... yes, excellent."


An interesting discussion.  It's natural to think of law school as somehow the same as every other educational experience from undergraduate years and before.  This is misleading at best.  What happens in a law school classroom is in one sense vital, and in another sense irrelevant--but the senses are exactly the opposite of what (and how) we've been taught since preschool. 

In law school, the classroom is not to learn, but to confirm.  Thus, what is said in a law school classroom isn't usually useful for an exam itself.  It IS useful in what is needed to prepare for the exam.

The problem we face in the classroom is that everyone is desparate to keep up, much less prove their way to the top.  Even if used productively (i.e., not to check the latest updates on Twitter), laptops are still a distraction.  That learning should already have happened; the classroom is for a different purpose.  And when laptops are used to check the latest updates on Twitter . . . .

Morten Lund

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Re: Computers in the classroom
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2010, 01:02:05 AM »
Even if used productively (i.e., not to check the latest updates on Twitter), laptops are still a distraction.  That learning should already have happened; the classroom is for a different purpose.  And when laptops are used to check the latest updates on Twitter . . . .

On the other hand, the practice of law is full of computers, and they don't get any less distracting (as evidenced by me posting here and now).  Cynically (and semi-facetiously) one might suggest that computers should be encouraged in the classroom simply as practice for reality.

Thane Messinger

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Re: Computers in the classroom
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2010, 03:54:04 AM »
Even if used productively (i.e., not to check the latest updates on Twitter), laptops are still a distraction.  That learning should already have happened; the classroom is for a different purpose.  And when laptops are used to check the latest updates on Twitter . . . .

On the other hand, the practice of law is full of computers, and they don't get any less distracting (as evidenced by me posting here and now).  Cynically (and semi-facetiously) one might suggest that computers should be encouraged in the classroom simply as practice for reality.

Aloha, Morten -

Finally, a chance to disagree!   = :  )

I can't help but think of one of the senior partners in my early years.  When he "cut and pasted" for a new document--in banking law, no less--he quite literally used scissors and tape.  (Okay, so that's not "pasting.")  He would assemble a new document from the entrails of earlier ones, and would hand the Frankensteinian assembly to his secretary.  He was THE banking law authority in the state, by the way. 

Another senior partner taught me a lesson--I of computer-savvy wispersnapper-dom.  She was irritated and then all-but told me to start using what was then a fairly primitive dictation cassette.  It was very odd at first, and seemed horribly inefficient--until I got it.  Not just "got the hang of it," but understood.  It was possible to talk out documents in a small fraction of the time, even counting proofreading, than with direct work.  And, to your point of proofreading, there might be something to the process of not typing our own work; it's fresher if we see it from someone else.

You're quite right, to moderate the disagreement, that computers are obviously everywhere in practice.  But, that doesn't make them necessarily right.  If used in an way other than to focus on the needs of the client, then they stop being useful and start being less than scissors and tape.

So, call me a quasi-savvy counter-revolutionary.

= :   )

Morten Lund

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Re: Computers in the classroom
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2010, 02:47:25 PM »
Good points, Thane, but you turned my suggestion into something far more substantive than it was.  I was making the much lower-level observation that law practice is full of distractions, particularly including computer distractions.  Therefore, intentionally exposing students to computer distractions in class might prepare/train/inoculate them for computer distractions in the office.

Both this post and my prior should be read with tongue halfway into cheek.

Thane Messinger

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Re: Computers in the classroom
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2010, 01:37:10 AM »
Good points, Thane, but you turned my suggestion into something far more substantive than it was.  I was making the much lower-level observation that law practice is full of distractions, particularly including computer distractions.  Therefore, intentionally exposing students to computer distractions in class might prepare/train/inoculate them for computer distractions in the office.

Both this post and my prior should be read with tongue halfway into cheek.


Leave it to a Thane to cause trouble.  You're quite right, and perhaps this should indeed be part of the grand strategy to prepare everyone for practice.  [Fade in evil laugh.]

= :   ) 

bigs5068

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Re: Computers in the classroom
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2010, 12:16:44 PM »
Some professors say that it is their job to command the attention of the class, and if the class were engaging/demanding enough, very few students would surf the internet.

First of all, would the limitation of distractions really increase student performance/education?  Is there a correlation between computer use during class and test performance?  Is there a causal link?

Second, If a student can get good grades without paying attention, why should they have to listen?  Why do they have to go to class at all?

Finally, what do you think about having an internet free section of a classroom. (e.g., front three rows, left side of the class, etc.)

From my experience I noticed that the people who stay off the internet do well and those who have to check their facebook every 20 seconds do not do so well. This was really seen in the second semester of my first year. My school has a fairly high attrition rate and the first semester everybody was pretty focused and scared sh**less of failing out. I saw no internet use from anyone the first semester and then our grades came back and most people did alright. However, once that fear went away people started having to check their facebook every 20 seconds. Then when second semester grades came people were astonished at their grades. I had that happen to several of my friends and they were shocked that their grades went down so much. Not being an a-hole I said man that sucks etc, but in my mind I was thinking well you missed a several classes because you simply did not feel like coming and when you did show up you were on the internet half the time. There are exceptions and some people can get away with not paying attention, but I can see no reason why you should risk finding out if you are smart enough to be one of those people that does not have to work hard. Especially when you are paying 30k a year and your G.P.A. is so important to finding your first job. 



Thane Messinger

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Re: Computers in the classroom
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2010, 03:12:30 PM »
From my experience I noticed that the people who stay off the internet do well and those who have to check their facebook every 20 seconds do not do so well. This was really seen in the second semester of my first year. My school has a fairly high attrition rate and the first semester everybody was pretty focused and scared sh**less of failing out. I saw no internet use from anyone the first semester and then our grades came back and most people did alright. However, once that fear went away people started having to check their facebook every 20 seconds. Then when second semester grades came people were astonished at their grades. I had that happen to several of my friends and they were shocked that their grades went down so much. Not being an a-hole I said man that sucks etc, but in my mind I was thinking well you missed a several classes because you simply did not feel like coming and when you did show up you were on the internet half the time. There are exceptions and some people can get away with not paying attention, but I can see no reason why you should risk finding out if you are smart enough to be one of those people that does not have to work hard. Especially when you are paying 30k a year and your G.P.A. is so important to finding your first job.


Bigs -

The paradox is that it is possible to do well without paying attention in class . . . but not the way nearly everyone does it.  This is because it's easy--too easy--to view the law school classroom as pretty much like every other classroom. The cycle of undergraduate education over the past 30 years has been that, outside of the sciences, it's possible for a smart student (such as later attends law school) to goof off and still pick up enough to get at least a B, if not an A.  A bit of cramming just before finals and, voila, at least a passable grade.

In law school this is turned on its head.  Cramming doesn't work because that's not what a law exam tests.  "Studying" also doesn't work, because that's not what a law exam tests either.   So computers, which can be a valuable tool, rarely are.

(Note:  One should pay attention in law school.  In fact, the attention should be intense.  But it's not to "learn."  Rather, it's to practice.)