Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Harvard Law School Debates Use of Computers and Internet in the Classroom

Interesting article in yesterday's Harvard Crimson:  HLS Debates Laptops in Class; Some Worry That Net Surfing Distract Law Students from Class Discussions:

As the issues of wireless Internet access and laptop use during class heats up at Harvard Law School, two prominent student groups hosted a wide-ranging discussion yesterday on whether the school should limit wireless Internet access during class time.

At the panel, which included four professors and an extended discussion with a crowd of about 50 students, the participants largely dismissed the idea that the Law School should adopt restrictions on Internet access in the classroom.

At issue was whether the law school should adopt a policy similar to the one at Harvard Business School, where students are not able to access the wireless network when they are in class because their course schedules have been linked to their wireless access.

The discussion—which was sponsored by the Law School Council and the Journal of Law and Technology—centered on whether the use of computers and the Internet aid classroom learning. Jonathan L. Zittrain, a professor and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, outlined the four schools of thought that currently prevail regarding the issue: the “orthodox,” who favor banning technology; the “fundamentalists,” who believe that all instructors should ban technology; the “laissez-faire,” who favor allowing professors or students to make their own decisions; and the “innovators,” who experiment widely with technology and integrate it into their teaching.

(Hat Tip:  Howard Bashman.)   Shameless plug:  In Taking Back the Law School Classroom:  Using Technology to Foster Active Student Learning, 54 J. J. Legal Educ. 551 (2004), I argue that faculty should enlist technology to counteract the potentially deleterious effects of in-class use of computers and the Internet.

Law School, Teaching | Permalink

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