Posted in Professional Development, Technology

Reflections on CALIcon13

Today marks the end of the second CALI conference I’ve had the privilege of attending. This year’s host was Chicago-Kent College of Law – I always enjoy getting to explore the layout and features of other law school facilities, and this school did not disappoint.

And of course, neither did the conference! I love the CALI conference, because it’s a conference for law school technologists, bringing together a blend of law school IT professionals and educational technology librarians like me. They even draw in some tech-minded professors, and I always enjoy hearing things from their perspective. This year was especially fun for me because, having been to one previous conference, there were familiar faces, making me feel less like an outsider trying to make my way in. I found myself talking at greater length with fellow attendees, really getting to know what other schools are doing, which is, of course, the whole point.

So I thought I’d share a reflection on the sessions I attended:


Keynote 1: Josh Clark
Our first keynote address was by Josh Clark, an app-building guru (Twitter handle: @globalmoxie). He was a very engaging speaker, discussing all sorts of considerations to be made when building apps and sites for mobile technology. And frankly one of the take-aways was that best practice for any site-building should be to think of how it will look on a small screen first; this will help you cut away all the fluff that often goes into over-crowded apps and sites these days. Since our library is looking into app-building in the near future, this was an inspiring keynote to attend.

Finding + Tuning Social Signals
As an avid experimenter with all sorts of social software, this was such a great program to attend. The speakers, Marcia Dority Baker of U. Nebraska Lincoln College of Law and Roger Skalbeck of Georgetown discussed a number of tools they’ve used to get through the fluff and chaos of social media sites like Twitter to those messages and news tidbits that are most interesting to their readers. ID’ing tools like, Yahoo Pipes and HootSuite – all of which I’ve heard of but hadn’t yet tried out – their experiences definitely convinced me to give them a try. It’s programs like this that I really look forward to at these conferences. What tools should I be trying out for my library?

Ed Tech Blog Lunch Meeting
I am an editor for the Ed Tech blog, maintained by a group of us whose jobs revolve around educational technology for law schools. Our group gets together at every CALI conference to regroup and plan for the next year. We brought in a few more interested people this year, and brainstormed some great ideas for this year’s posts. I’m so glad to be a part of this group.

Engaging Faculty in the use of Tech w/o Using the ‘T’ Word
I was excited for this session, because I think this is an issue at any law school today, mine included. The speakers, Phil Bohl and Julie Tausend of Pepperdine U. School of Law gave some great pointers, even simple things like varying your vocabulary (i.e. Coffee Talk instead of Tech Training).

Flipping the Law School Classroom: Using Tech Outside the Classroom to Engage Students in the Classroom
Everyone is into flipped classrooms these days; this was particularly evident in this session, which was so crowded I had to sit on the ground! No complaints, because I was one of the avid learners who wanted to hear about people’s experiences with this method. Interestingly the speakers here, Joshua Pluta and Tommy Sangchompuphen of Lincoln Memorial were relaying their experiences with flipping a bar prep course (not BARBRI or similar, but an actual law school course for bar prep). They discussed different levels of flipped classrooms, pros and cons of the method, and the types of classes it is best suited for: least suited for entry-level doctrinal courses (1L), better suited for upper-level doctrinal courses, best suited for skills courses.

Flipping Flop? Exploring Whether Guest Lectures Can Use the Flipped Classroom Format
This was probably my favorite session of the day. Presented by Scott Vanderlin and Clare Willis of Chicago-Kent, this was an excellent analysis of using flipped classrooms by guest lecturers. Since in our LRW program I am essentially a four-time guest lecturer, I was very interested in their analysis. It sounded like from their experience it can work, but it’s not perfect. I loved seeing and hearing how they did it and what they learned. A really excellent program.


Keynote 2: Bill Henderson
Professor Bill Henderson, of my own IU Maurer School of Law, was our second keynote speaker. He gave an excellent presentation on the changing profession. Rather than calling doomsday, as so many seem to these days, he instead spoke more of an evolution in the profession, identifying the new kinds of jobs available for law grads (hint: there are many out there, but they’re not necessarily at firms).

What We Learned from Using All the Toys in the Toolbox
This was another great tool-focused presentation by Jill Smith of U. Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law. ID’ing another great list of tools, high-tech and low-tech, this program certainly gave me more things to play with and considerations to make when applying them in the classroom.

Learning from Mistakes
This was probably my favorite presentation of this day. Given by Barbara Glesner-Fines of U. Missouri Kansas City School of Law, this baseball-themed presentation discussed 9 “innings” of mistakes she’s made in teaching over the years. I was a little hesitant when I sat down for this one, thinking maybe I should be looking for another tool-focused presentation instead. But I am SO glad I went to this! I certainly learned from and empathized with mistakes she identified, and at the end the rest of us shared some of our mistakes. I spent another 20 minutes after that presentation talking with a fellow attendee about our mistakes and experiences in teaching; it’s moments like that that I think this conference is meant to elicit.

ABA Techshow & Tell
I’ve always wanted to go to this, but it’s so expensive, so I was glad that Chicago-Kent’s Debbie Ginsberg, Emily Barney, and Florida State’s Elizabeth Barney could share their experiences from it. I think it’s important as legal educators to know what the practitioners know and use so that we can better prepare our students.

The Law School Classroom of the Future
This was the last session I attended, by Larry Farmer of Brigham Young. Triggering a hearty debate, this program looked at current trends in ABA standards for distance education and the technological developments of late to imagine where legal education is headed.

Sadly, that ended my CALIcon experience for the year. I woke on Saturday to pouring rain and a miscalculation of how long it would take to get back to the airport, so I had to miss the last half-day of sessions. However, the first two days were truly enriching, and I can’t wait to get back to start playing with the new tools I learned about and apply some of the lessons and theory I learned along the way.

Thanks, CALI, for another great conference! See you next year!