From the Paper Chase to the Digital Chase: Technology and the Challenge of Teaching 21st Century Students
62 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2009
Date Written: December 5, 2002
We are in the midst of a communications revolution which is transforming us from a printed-text society to a hypertext society. This screen-based technological revolution, only a few decades old, is having a profound effect on the way humans learn -- as profound an effect as mass print had on society. Having grown-up with television, video games, and computers, students currently entering law schools are vanguard of the new communication revolution. Within a few years, students reared almost entirely on digital information will be arriving in American law schools. These 21st century students learn differently than their professors, who learned primarily from printed text. These new learners present a significant challenge to legal education.
This article examines how computers, the Internet and hypertext are affecting the way humans learn in much the same way as printed text did in the 16th century. The article critiques the current state of legal education and asserts that law schools must enlist the tools of the current technology revolution to assist these new learners' transition into the legal profession. The article is not a blind endorsement of technology. It cautions that the integration of electronic technology must be pedagogically sound or it will accomplish little more than technologizing unsound teaching. The article demonstrates that 21st century students identify with and therefore learn better when electronic technology is incorporated into law school teaching. Finally, the article provides a blueprint for law schools to incorporate electronic technology into the curriculum in order to achieve the goals of legal education in the 21st century.
Keywords: legal education, student-centered learning
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