Archive for Posts

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

I Want MyEdTechNews

Looking for more ed tech news?  There are plenty of ed tech blogs to keep up on the latest innovations and trends.  Great examples include:

  • ProfHacker – Chronicle of Higher Education.  Ed tech from a faculty perspective.  It can be a great source for new tools for faculty teaching and scholarship.
  • Hack Education – If you were at CALI in June 2012, you’ll remember Audrey Watters’ talk about robots in the classroom.  Her blog discusses the biggest, most pressing questions facing ed tech today.  Prefer Twitter?  Follow her @audreywatters.
  • Ray Schroeder – Educational Technology Blog.  Not an original content blog, but great for discovering recent and interesting ed tech blog posts and news from all kinds of sources.
  • Tame the Web — Focuses on technology and libraries.  My favorite recent posts detail the latest high-tech spaces that libraries have built for users to create their own multimedia.
  • Ed Tech Digest — Tools, interviews, trends, and infographics.

Of course, there’s an Ed Tech Pinterest site.

Looking for more?  Check out 50 Must-Read Higher Education Technology Blogs.  What are your favorite ed tech news sources?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

2 weeks with a Mac

Wow!  Look how much time has gone by since my first post this month!  It’s been busy here – lots of projects to plan for, one of our librarians just had a new baby (yay!).  And, after working here for 10 years, I finally have a Mac at work.  So I’ve been busy running it through its paces.

With so many of our faculty and students showing up with Macs these days, I wanted to know more about how they adapt to our work environment.  I’ve used Macs at home since 1987, so I’m pretty familiar with the interface.  But I’ve always used a PC at work.  By switching to a Mac, I expect to be able to better understand how Macs can be used by law students, faculty, and staff as an ed tech tool.

The Good

  • It’s fast. My old PC was pretty decent, but the iMac is much faster.  I wasn’t expecting that.
  • It’s bright.  The screen is much nicer than my PC.  I’m enjoying the crisp colors.
  • It can do (almost) anything a PC can. The programs I use most often are Chrome, MS Office, Acrobat, MindManager, SnagIt, and Camtasia, all of which run on Macs.
  • With Parallels, it can do everything.  The only day-to-day program I can’t run on the Mac is our Voyager desktop software.  With Parallels, problem solved.
  • They aren’t (that much more) expensive.  When we research new computers, we usually find that while lower-grade PCs are often cheaper, PCs with similar specs are about the same as a Mac.
  • The Magic Mouse is magic.  Its trackpad surface is easy to use and works much like a scrolling mouse, with a few extras.

The Bad

  • Why can’t I print? Mountain Lion isn’t totally compatible with our network printer/copier/fax.  Our IT people had to work pretty hard to get it to connect.
  • Where is my network drive again?   I have to manually add our network drives when I want to access them (maybe there’s a work-around I’m missing?).
  • What just happened?  I love the mouse – except when I manage to somehow make a gesture that sends me to a random program or widget.  I think this issue is special to me because I have the same problem with my home laptop.  No one else I’ve talked to has this issue.

I’ve only just started to see how far I can push the Mac.  I still have to learn more about some of the latest features of Mountain Lion (how well does the dictation feature work, for example?).  Earlier versions of Parallels seemed slow to me.  So far, Version 8 seems fine, but I haven’t used it much.

We all have a list of technologies which would be great to explore hands-on, but are just too expensive to purchase or to integrate, even with the best justifications.  Yet, without direct experience with the technologies, it’s difficult for educational technologies to make informed recommendations.  Getting a Mac was of those rare opportunities to directly experience a technology I’d only been able to discuss in the abstract..  The other day, a faculty member asked if she should get a Mac – a question I’ve been asked fairly often.  Before I got my work Mac, I could discuss the benefits of the interface well enough, but I wasn’t as sure about what day-to-day issues she might experience trying to use a Mac in our law school.  Now that I have a Mac, I can give more informed answers.

That said, even hand-on experience only goes so far.  It turned out that not only did the faculty member want a Mac, but she wanted an MacBook Air.  To go to China.  I’m pretty sure the library budget won’t cover a new laptop and a trip to Beijing any time soon.

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Mindmapping Software – Essential for Law School

A few years back my employer (California Western School of Law) contracted with Mindjet to give every student, faculty and staff member access to MindManager mind-mapping software.  I encouraged this collaboration as I felt the graphical qualities of  mind-maps were particularly well suited to breaking down complex legal concepts into more digestible components, something our students would find appealing in preparing class outlines or studying for the bar.


A mind-map is a visual representation of relationships between concepts, words and ideas (the graphic below is an example). Mind-mapping is not new: according to a  2007 Law Library Journal article, it was developed by researchers in the 1960s. 99 Law Libr. J. 175 (2007)  Software and the internet have made maps easy to create in both basic text and multimedia form, and as a result mind mapping has become quite popular.


Attorneys can use maps in a number of ways, including litigation and case management, as well as research tracking. Our program has been quite popular with students and faculty.  Some faculty have found it useful for teaching, either in class presentations or via handouts.  Others found it extremely helpful for outlining, drafting and organizing their scholarship.  (The iPad version of MindManager was used heavily by some faculty especially because they could transfer files back and forth between the full version of the software and the iPad app.)


Many students raved about the software.  It was quite a surprise when a student actually came up and thanked us for providing the program after a training presentation.  I’ve seen bar studiers thrilled with their discovery of mind-mapping as a study tool.   On the other hand, it is not for everyone.  A few students recoiled at the graphical qualities of mind-maps and favored ‘regular’ linear outlining.

I’m not sure why the reaction for and against mind-mapping can be so strong.  That sounds like a research project for an educational psychologist.  However, the benefits provided to those that do respond positively have made me conclude that it is definitely worth introducing in a law school environment.



Friday, March 4th, 2011

Introducing the Law School Educational Technology Blog

As instructional technology takes on a greater role in legal education, more law schools are using educational technology experts to support the instructional needs of their faculties.  At the 2010 CALI Conference, Barbara Glennan and I hosted an educational technology meeting which was attended by over 50 people.  It was clear that there was a great interest in creating a space for law school educational technologists to discuss issues and ideas, so we decided to start a blog.

Are you involved in law school educational technology and would like to post to the blog?  Contact Barbara or me for information about how to become a writer.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Critical Commons

In a recent EDUCAUSE LIVE! webinar entitled “The Future of Fair Use” hosted by Steven Anderson, Assistant Professor of Interactive Media at USC and author of technohistory blog, Anderson highlighted Critical Commons, a project he started to fill a void he saw in the open and free use of media arena. As described on its website, “at the heart of Critical Commons is an online tool for viewing, tagging, sharing, annotating and curating media within the guidelines established by a given community.” The organization bills itself as “a non-profit advocacy coalition that supports the use of media for scholarship, research and teaching…” with a goal of “build[ing] open, informed communities around media-based teaching, learning and creativity, both inside and outside of formal educational environments.”

For those interested in the background and how it relates to Fair Use, please watch the archive.

This got us thinking, how could we use Critical Commons’ online media tool in our legal education technology world? A resource like this doesn’t come along every day. So far we can think of:

  • A “how to do Legal Research” series, naturally since we are based in the law library.
  • Annotating a series of interviews to demonstrate both good and poor practices.
  • Likewise, annotating clips of legal procedural scenes from films and TV to identify everything from good and bad lawyering practices to key elements our what is being discussed in the classroom.

    How would you see this tool being used?