Teaching Technology Skills by Design, by Ambush, and in Context
We think our current generation of law students can navigate technology easily because they have always used technology. Indeed, our current law students think the same thing. We are both wrong: being comfortable using technology and being efficient using technology are not the same. However, our students need to understand how to use technology efficiently because the practice of law demands that efficiency, particularly as technology becomes more integrated into law practice. Just as importantly, law students themselves would benefit from using their technology more efficiently. But how do you convince law students that they need to shift their thinking about using technology? How do you convince busy law students to take the time to learn technology skills? And how do you stretch thin resources to create an effective learning environment in which to teach these technology skills?
At the University of South Carolina School of Law, we have thought through these questions, and our answer is to teach technology skills by focusing on three methods: design, ambush, and context. Gary Moore, Assistant Dean for Academic Technology, will speak about teaching technology skills by design; Gary helped to design a course “Technology and the Practice of Law,” which he currently co-teaches with a faculty emeritus. Eve Ross, Reference Librarian, will speak about teaching technology skills by ambush; Eve organized a series of Pop-Up Tech Talks in which a varied group of faculty and staff set up in heavily student-trafficked areas to provide a series of five minute demonstrations on discrete technology topics. Amy Milligan, Assistant Director of Legal Writing, will speak about teaching technology skills in context; Amy created an online guide, Microsoft Word Fundamentals for Efficient Lawyers and Law Students, which focuses on Word skills that her students will need to efficiently complete assignments for her class.
We hope that attendees will leave our session with some ideas for how they can address teaching technology skills in their own schools.