David I. C. Thomson, LP Professor    Home   Contact me   Map  
  About me  
  Community Service  
Recent Updates
I gave a presentation in Indianapolis in July at the 2008 biennial conference of the Legal Writing Institute about teaching legal writing online. My presentation, with the slides in several formats and supporting resources, can be found here.
I gave a presentation in New York about laptops in the classroom at the 2008 American Association of Law Schools meeting; it was part of a debate about whether they should be banned.  An overview of my contribution to this program, together with the slides, can be found here.
I have created a new page that contains links to all my student evaluations since I started teaching full time at DU.  You will find it here.

This page is a companion to the presentation I gave at the 2008 meeting of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) on January 3, 2008 in New York City.  My presentation was a part of a three-hour program co-sponsored by two Sections of the AALS: the Teaching Methods Section and the New Law Professors Section. The title of the program was "Attractions and Distractions: Student Use of Laptop Computers in the Classroom."

My basic message on this topic is a simple one.  There is no disputing that laptops can provide a distraction in the classroom.  But the response to that, it seems to me, should not be to ban them but to leverage them instead.  Technology brings good and bad into all areas of our lives, and it is incumbent upon us to learn how to use it effectively.  Think cell phones.  Being contactable everywhere is a tremendous convenience, but it also has a downside.  Managing the downside and maximizing the convenience is what we all have done - with varying degrees of success - with cell phones.  My point is we need to do the same with laptops in the classroom.

The good news is that there are fabulous ways to leverage laptops in the classroom, and there are more on the way.  A wealth of teaching opportunities await the law professor who chooses to embrace them.  I show screenshots of some of these options in this presentation, and doubtless there are many more.

Included in this presentation is also some data that I collected from my students near the end of the spring semester of 2007.  It was an anonymous survey, constructed with University IRB approval, with 32 respondents.  The message from this small sample is clear: banning laptops in the classroom will not be popular with our students, and we need to more directly engage them in the classroom.  The days of hiding behind the podium are nearing an end.

In sum, given all the criticism of legal education - from MacCrate, to Carnegie, to Best Practices, if the perception is that laptops in the classroom are changing the face of legal education as we know it, that might not be such a bad thing.

While it is still fairly standard practice, I prefer not to hand out paper copies at any presentation I give.  Not only does doing so kill trees, but it ends up being something you have to carry home, and they are ultimately less useful and interactive than a digital file.  So here on this page you will find a downloadable copy of my presentation in several formats.

Here it is in the form of a PowerPoint file,

Here it is in the form of a PDF file,

And here it is in the form of an Shockwave Flash file you can view through the browser if you have Flash installed.

If you attended the AALS Laptops presentation - or even if you have visited this page because you are curious about this subject - thank you, and feel free to contact me with your thoughts via E-mail.

Laptops in the Classroom:

Don't Ban Them. Use Them.




| Welcome | About me | Courses | Research | Community Service |

David I. C. Thomson, 2003-2008. All rights reserved.