Law in the Internet Society

Progress is often created by a collaboration of independent minds. With technology evolving as it has, human beings are finally able to easily collaborate on any project with people across the globe. For example, this wiki brings together the knowledge of many independent minds by efficiently allocating resources to all involved and by allowing users access to the collaboration at any time regardless of space. Such collaborative education environments could be the future of our education system and I propose that we experiment with it in the current legal education system. The goals of these collaborative environments will be twofold: to assist in solving world problems and to better prepare law students for both their careers and their personal lives.

The Benefits of Collaboration

Law schools around the country are not fully taking advantage of these technological possibilities and not sufficiently dealing with the effects of technological change. Our education system seems to be stuck in the past but improving the education system with technology is not a difficult task. By merely incorporating new technology into our current education system we could benefit both students and society. We can start experimenting by creating collaborative classrooms, like this wiki, that put their efforts towards semester-long projects. Rather than asking students to compete on 3-hour final exams, we will work together by expressing our thoughts and ideas on the project and gaining feedback from other bright-minded students. Collaboration will ensure that our projects end up producing realistic proposals and will also ensure that our minds are accurately expressing our thoughts on the subject matter.

First, we will be combining our knowledge and input in order to assist in solving some of the world's problems, whether it is a small community problem or a large-scale global issue. If our ideas are implementable we could petition the appropriate elected officials or agencies that would consider implementing the project. Second, we will improve the education of students, by practicing the refinement our own thoughts. Refining one's thoughts is not an easy process but collaboration could help, as peer-to-peer editing and constant feedback will force us to defend our words or tailor them so that we learn to write what we mean to write. Students will learn that this skill is not so easy and will improve their ability to speak their minds and understand themselves. The ability to refine one's thoughts will improve their careers and their personal relationships. These skills must be practiced and a collaborative classroom where grades aren't everything is a great place to practice such refinement.

We do not need to transform the law school experience but we have to recognize that we need to be more active in incorporating the changes in the world into our own lives. Rather than turning our thoughts into grades, we should learn the law collaboratively, contributing our ideas to society and learning about ourselves in the process. I do not have a problem with competition, but I have a problem with competition that does not generate progress, and this is precisely the type of competition that is a mainstay in our current legal education. At the level of intelligence we have all shown by now, competing for a grade is worthless to ourselves and to society. Progress often comes from building on each other's thoughts and not necessarily from getting a check+ on a paper or a hefty check from a law firm. Those things often act as restraints on our collaborative abilities.

An Experiment With Collaboration in the Legal Education

The Internet has given our minds longevity and has allowed everybody access to our thoughts and ideas. It gives us a collaborative tool that can help us achieve an improved education system, suitable with the technology of today and flexible enough to adapt to the technology of tomorrow. We could experiment with a single credit course. At the beginning of the semester, each student will be asked to devote at least one hour per week to a specified project (e.g. a community problem chosen by a professor in collaboration with students) and one hour per week in an actual classroom to discuss the progress made in the past week and ways to improve on the collaborative experience. The students will give each other feedback, leave comments on their peers' work, and receive feedback on their own work while working together to solve a real problem in the world.

By creating these collaborative classrooms we could achieve both goals stated above. We could assist in finding solutions to problems ranging from personal problems to global problems and teach real critical thinking skills in the process. Students will learn that they can affect the world while still being part of the education system. They will also learn how to apply their education in a real-world setting. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, students will learn to enter the lion's den that is the human mind and at the very least, will realize that you cannot catch the lion without entering the lion's den.


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r12 - 04 Sep 2012 - 22:02:12 - IanSullivan
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