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How can technology transform legal education?

HLS Professor and Director of the Berkman Center John Palfrey has published an op-ed in the National Law Journal, The law school curriculum: What is technology’s role? that reflects on the role that technology can — or should — play in legal education. He touches on some of the major themes of our research so far:

  • Law schools should provide authentic learning experiences, including technological context. Authenticity is a recurring theme in today’s educational literature, and in legal education, the MacCrate report emphasized clinical studies as a vital way of instructing law students in actual practice. If technology is tranforming day-to-day legal practice, so too must our clinical programs keep pace to ensure that law students’ experiences are “true.”
  • Technology can enhance traditional teaching methods. At the same time, technology for the sake of technology is pointless, or even harmful. As my 2002 research found, simply deploying technology can either offset or accentuate law school’s existing deficiencies. Online discussions can give every student the chance to share and build knowledge, or it can give classroom “gunners” yet another outlet to hold forth and dissuade wider participation.

As we begin to take our research public over the next few weeks, I hope to gather a discussion about these and other points.

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