Law School Laptop Bans

This week’s Chronicle of Higher Education has a front-page story Law Professors Rule Laptops Out of Order in Class which reports on new laptop use policies or procedures at the University of Chicago; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Michigan; Florida International; Georgetown; Harvard; and the University of Wisconsin.  Recently, in an editorial in the Stanford Daily, students themselves asked the university to “Consider limiting wireless access in class.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education piece discusses the pros and cons of various policies and also the technical difficulty of effecting a ban.  It quotes several law professors, including David Cole from Georgetown who offers this interesting observation:

Several weeks into one of his law classes last year, he asked the students what they thought of the ban, letting them respond anonymously. Roughly three-quarters of the students said they favored a no-laptop policy. And 95 percent said they had used their machines for purposes other than taking notes.

E-Books. Is the tide turning?

I see a much greater recent acceptance and use of e-books by our students.   A few earlier stabs with electronic casebooks here at the law school went nowhere, but this past year I’ve seen several students stop by the reference desk with an e-book open on their laptops.  Maybe the time has come for us to take a closer look.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s The Wired Campus feature made this note last Friday:

Research Libraries Embrace E-Books

Sixty-nine percent of university research libraries plan to increase spending on e-books over the next two years, according to a recent study published by Primary Research Group Inc. . . . 

Clearly e-book technology has improved dramatically in a short period of time. Only a year-and-a-half-ago college librarians were saying that e-books were not ready for the campus environment.

 

The study shows that the larger the library the more interested it is in purchasing e-books. And it also shows that foreign libraries are more attracted to e-books, than libraries in the U.S.—Andrea L. Foster

And L. Gordon Crovitz’s “Information Age” column in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Social Networking in the Digital Age,” includes this little bit of related information:

. . .

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos disclosed [at The D: All Things Digital conference] that for books available on the Kindle electronic reader, some 6% of Amazon sales are now for the digital version. He enjoys physical books, but their future is in doubt now that there is the more powerful way of reading through electronic devices.

. . .