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Is It Time for Law Students to Go Low Tech?

By William Vogeler, Esq. on November 20, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Ever notice that your handwriting worsened as you converted to typing?

Or did you forget the phone numbers of your family and friends because you relied on your smartphone for them? That, in a sentence or two, is one of the problems with technology.

According to new research, it's also a problem in legal education. Students are not learning analytical thinking because they have become dependent on technology to do it for them.

Risks of Technology

Nikos Harris, of the Peter A. Allard School of Law, bucks against the technology trend in his paper: The Risks of Technology in the Law Classroom: Why the Next Great Development in Legal Education Might be Going Low-Tech.

He says that everyone assumes technology improves life, including in the classroom. However, he writes, traditional lecturing and note-taking techniques may provide the "optimal learning environment."

"Student use of laptops, and professor use of electronic course slides, may actually impair learning in a manner which has particular significance for legal education," he wrote for the University of British Columbia Law Review.

Harris says mounting emerging evidence suggests law professors should consider a "low-tech revolution" in their classrooms.

Low-Tech Revolution

It's not exactly a "revolution" to go back to the old ways of doing things; that would be more of a cycle. But hindsight is often better than foresight.

That's why "traditional" professors -- those who prefer lectures over slides and note-taking over laptops -- may have greater insight than others.

There's even research that says mature brains are more creative and better at unconventional problem-solving than younger ones.

Of course, that's just research. As Socrates would say, think for yourself.

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