Archive for Conferences

Friday, May 9th, 2014

ABA Techshow 2014 Roundup

One of my favorite conferences every year is the ABA Techshow. For those of us in academic libraries, the Techshow is one of the best opportunities to discover new ways that attorneys are using technology for their work.

The Techshow is held in Chicago every spring. The show lasts 3 days, from Thursday through Saturday. Three-day registration for the Techshow isn’t cheap – from $100 for students to $1050 for non-ABA attorneys. However, the Expo Hall is free. Open on Thursday and Friday, the Expo is a great place to learn about new legal technologies, talk to vendors, and test new apps and programs (not to mention pick up a few dozen free pens).

The Techshow’s educational sessions included on a wide range of topics. Many sessions covered very practical ideas (e.g. creating sophisticated automated forms). Others focused on cutting-edge technology issues (e.g. what NSA’s practices mean for attorneys).

In a world where “bill the by hour” is becoming less relevant, it’s becoming more important for lawyers to effectively manage their time. Tools discussed included file-sharing services (and how to use them securely), favorite mobile apps and gadgets, and task-tracking tools.

Several sessions addressed a dark side to legal technology – security. Presenters provided tips and techniques to keep firms from becoming the “soft underbelly” hackers go after when looking for a company’s information.

Some of the Techshow’s most popular sessions are those which quickly summarize the year’s best tools. Looking for the best legal iOS apps? Here’s this year’s list of 60 Apps in 60 Minutes. And no Techshow is complete without 60 Sites in 60 Minutes (literally – this session closes every Techshow).

Next year, the Techshow will be held from April 16-18.

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

The Working Group on Distance Learning in Legal Education Fall Meeting

NCCU Law Schoool Teleconferencing Room

The Teleconferencing Room in action

On September 13, I attended the Working Group on Distance Learning in Legal Education fall meeting that was held in the North Carolina Central University Law School.  Although the conference was small, it was highly informative. I learned a great deal about the current state of technology, regulations, pedagogy, and best practices for distance learning for law schools.  Attendees included faculty, administrators, vendors, technologists, and librarians.

The Working Group on Distance Learning in Legal Education is “a loosely structured alliance of law educators collaborating to provide increased opportunities for faculty, students and other participants to access high quality, innovative, and interactive online legal education.”  You can learn more about the group on their website which includes useful resources such as information about best practices, information the upcoming meetings, and model distance-learning policies.

The working group holds meetings three times a year: in the fall, in the spring, and at AALS.  The fall and spring meetings have been held at different law schools, allowing those law schools to showcase their distance learning programs.

NCCU is a technologically innovative law school. One of their showpieces is an impressive teleconferencing room. The room allows participants in seminars held on different campuses to interact with each other as if all of the students were in the same place.

NCCU’s clinic also uses advanced teleconferencing technologies.  They have a sophisticated set-up that allows students and lawyers to connect to clients from across the state.   This room can handle up to 16 video inputs at the same time, so it can also be used for distance-learning classes.

We discussed several issues facing law schools implementing distance ed programs.   These included:


Regulations affecting law school distance education programs can be complicated. For example, a law school may be located in one state, but students may be located in other states.  All of these states’ regulations may apply.  The out-of-state regulations may be complicated, expensive, or even contradictory. Of course, this issue can be more tricky if the students are international.


Choosing technology for distance ed programs can be particularly challenging. Schools need to select technology that offers the features faculty need to effectively teach. But the technology must also be accessible to students – students whose technology set ups are completely unpredictable.  Some students may prefer to access their courses on new iPads using high-bandwidth broadband, while other students need to use old computers and dial up.


It can be a struggle to offer students were not physically on campus services that are similar to residential students. For example, how can law schools provide IDs to distance learning students? It can be almost impossible to verify whether nonresidential students are the people that they say they are. But without the IDs, the students may be denied essential services.


Without solid netiquette policies, students may behave distracting ways when participating distance education courses, particularly synchronous courses. We discussed how to discourage students from distracting behaviors like eating, talking to children, or dealing with pets while participating in class.

Faculty also need to be taught how to present themselves online. Faculty may not realize that their physical background affects how they appear on camera. For example some faculty present synchronous lectures in front of a bright window –which means students can’t see them.

IP Practices

The question of who owns material from distance-learning courses has broad implications.  There are the standard questions about posting materials created by third parties to web sites, of course.  However, there are also questions about who owns the distance learning course material itself.  Adjunct faculty may wish to create a distance learning course that can be used at several different law schools, for example, while the individual schools may feel that they own the course material.

One of the best parts of this meeting is that it focused on deliverables.  For example, during the meeting, we reviewed a start-up checklist for law schools considering distance ed programs.  Shortly after the meeting, the attendees received a revised checklist based on our input.

Look for the next meeting at the upcoming AALS conference in January.


Friday, July 8th, 2011

The Law School Educational Technologist Survey – 2 Years Later

We all had a great time at CALI!  If you are unable to attend the conference (or just our session) you can watch the video on the CALI conference website.  While you’re there, be sure to check out some of the other great CALI sessions, too.

We all used Prezi for our session.  Here are our slides:

Barbara’s slides (The Law School Ed Tech Survey)
Lindsay’s slides (Supporting ed tech technologies)
Chester’s and Alex’s slides (Training and promotion)
Debbie’s slides (What has changed in 2 years)

Thanks to Barbara, Lindsay, Chester, and Alex for a great presentation!  See you all next year in San Diego.


Friday, April 1st, 2011

Trends & Challenges in Educational Technology

There is essentially one reason why I was so excited to attend EDUCAUSE’s Midwest Regional Conference in March: the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Michael Wesch.

With the beauty of YouTube and TED talks, I can share the keynote presentation with you, albeit in a shorter form.

TEDxKC Michael Wesch From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able

Wesch focuses on the effects of social media and digital technology on society. Being an educator, he often concentrates on how this is changing the worldview of college students. I think law schools are behind in catering to new ways of teaching and learning. Law School is traditional. The modern world of education is becoming less so.

There are several trends  from the conference. I chose a top 5.

1) Twitter. Twitter isn’t just for celebrities. This is the 3rd conference where I’ve tweeted the conference. Below is a Wordle of the conference tweets. (#MWRC11). There was an intense amount of conversation on the Twitter back channel.  Through this back channel, many of us discussed the utility of using Twitter in class as a way for students to discuss (class related) things during class. Many undergraduate professors use this tactic already. Would this tactic work in highly Socratic classrooms?

2) Pedagogy. Being an educator of educators, I sometimes have difficulty not telling faculty how they should teach. My job is about arming faculty with tools to educate themselves and their students.  To meet the needs of the modern students, many faculty will need to rethink their teaching methods. This will be a challenge.

3) Technology. Along this line, students (even law students) are armed with tools to educate themselves.  Faculty complain of students using laptops too much in the classroom. Despite studies suggesting the useful nature of laptops in learning,  laptops have been banned.   I’ve discovered is that debunking the myths of technology use in the classroom is not enough to get faculty or students willing to try something new. I’ve found that finding a solution to a problem and in turn, supporting that solution works better. The mere use of technology is not the solution to problems in teaching and learning.

4) Students want the opportunity to learn with new tools – as long as those tools have a purpose in their learning. Technology shouldn’t hinder a learner’s learning or a teacher’s teaching. The challenge is to not overwhelm the students with tools – where students spend more time learning the tools than learning the subject. Students want faculty to use course management systems effectively- but using the CMS isn’t enough.

5) Mobile Use. Other than the words “Social Media” I think I heard the words “mobile” the most. Mobile learning is on the rise. Most Course Management systems have come out with Mobile Apps if not Mobile sites.  Law schools with a large commuter population might do well to get in to mobile learning early to help with access.

So where do these trends and questions leave law schools? Do we embrace the change and force our faculty and students into a new mold – or do we hide from the change and teach the law the way it has been taught for decades?

More Resources:

Michael Wesch’s Youtube Channel

Educause Website

GOOD Education