edupunking law school

I have been reading a book called DIY U:  Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education on my kindle.  I’m fairly familiar with the overall Edupunk movement, which has primarily focused on moving away from commercial, enterprise level (and therefore expensive) solutions and towards a more DIY, open-source kind of environment.  But this is the first formal book on the topic and quite an interesting read, too.

Several themes are addressed in the book (and they lead to a somewhat scattered approach, IMO, where the book just seems to jump from different educational model to the next, rather than a large scale, overview-type look at the higher education arena).  A key one is that one needs to lower costs.  Edupunk approaches can help do this by “debundling” the various services that are provided by faculty (teaching, testing, and grading) and increasing efficiency per dollar spent.  There are other ideas, too, such as blended learning with a social side, etc.

One of the questions I’ve been posing to myself is how to “edupunk” the law school environment.

Part of me is of the very mindset that the book argues against – that there is something “special” about the expensive, private higher education environment that makes it different and better.  That students that get into such programs – whether undergraduate or graduate – are in a better situation than those that go to less selective, public institutions.  It’s pretty hard for me to admit that, but part of my brain has been sufficiently scrubbed that I do think that.

That part also wonders if law school just needs to be taught a certain way, and that edupunking the system doesn’t get one very far.  The socratic method is connected at the hip to big lecture halls, rather low-tech environments, and just a lot of talking.  It’s not interactive, it’s not blended, and it’s not particularly practical.  It’s all theoretical, at least during the first year.

I’m going to spend the next few posts thinking about how one might change the instruction of law.  I don’t want to go so far that I’d being ABA-accreditation into question.  The book talks about how these is a shackle on the process of innovation, but it’s also a reality.  I don’t think it would be productive to go all the way to “accreditation be damned, as long as the student learns what he or she needs.”  I think there is a middle ground.  And I intend to explore that over the next few days.

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