Are We Ethically Bound to Use Student Engagement Technologies for Teaching Law?
The Law Teacher, 49:2, 219-241 (2015).
33 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2017 Last revised: 9 Sep 2017
Date Written: June 1, 2015
What conscientious law professor of first year, large format classes in torts, contracts, or criminal law has not pondered how to better engage students while easing their reluctance to speak out in class? While students entering law schools are quite adept with student engagement technologies (SETs) from undergraduate classes, some law faculties seem tied to the passive environment of lectures and PowerPoint presentations and hence reject SET methodologies as so much techno-wizardry. With the entry of webbased programmes into the expanding field of SETs, and increasing empirical evidence that active learning improves grades and closes gender and socio-economic gaps, the ethical question arises, are we not obliged as law teachers to employ them? This paper examines in three steps that gap between pronouncing from the podium and actively engaging learners by clicker response or web-based devices. Part I reviews the growing literature on active learning including SET-based methods. Part II examines two models of SETs, remote-based and web-based, for their comparative attributes and drawbacks, with a particular focus on law teaching. Part III details the author’s experiences with the clicker system teaching introductory law and criminology and offers practical suggestions for facilitating its use. The paper concludes that, in light of recent evidence of heightened learning success using active learning methodologies, and the impending complexity to education posed by wearable technologies, the ethical question of pedagogical competence grows in importance.
Keywords: law pedagogy, student engagement technologies, clicker, flipped classroom, active learning
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