Friday, April 06, 2007

Technology in Search of a Pedagogical Justification

Back in January, in a post about Cyberlaw I mentioned that my civil procedure exam last semester featured an extended hypothetical question based on a thinly disguised spoof of the interactive virtual world SecondLife. Shortly thereafter, a student pointed me to one of the strangest sites I've seen on the web, a series of screen shots of Judge Richard Posner giving a talk in SecondLife. But the strangest use of SecondLife by a legal professional has to be the following video from last year of Harvard Law Prof Charles Nesson, his avatar, and his daughter's avatar, showing just how cool (stoned? ) they are.

I can't tell from the video whether Nesson's journey to SecondLife was successful, but ventures like his and Posner's do suggest to me that we have reached the point where the technology outpaces our ability to use it productively. About 10 years ago, as an experiment in my constitutional law class, I included Powerpoint presentations in each of my lectures. I quickly discovered that the blackboard worked better. I suspect we'll come to the same conclusion about things like SecondLife soon enough.

(Of course, a blog is a COMPLETELY different story. That's an incredibly smart use of technology.)