Legal Education and IT:Oasis or Mirage?

Mirage or Oasis is the 2007 Conference Theme

This is the theme of the upcoming CALI conference.  John Mayer offers this explanation for the theme:

” IT in legal education is becoming irrelevant  — either through outsourcing, technology-shifting to the ends of the network, malaise or lack of vision. I never really subscribed to the ‘technology for technology’s sake’ approach and what with the law  school’s traditional resistance to change, it’s hard to introduce new  tools, ideas or services that make things more efficient or help law  schools achieve their purpose.  This is the mirage. IT slowly disappears into the email that can be had from Yahoo, the research that can be had from Google and so on.

There is another angle to the theme. IT is becoming so pervasive or  “built-in” that IT thinking must shift its focus away from plumbing and  closer to the actual goals of legal education. This new type of  thinking affects priorities, job skills and decision-making all over the place. You can no longer be simply in charge of the computers or in  charge of the lab or in charge of the network – you have to be a collaborator and coordinator of services to the people that use the  computers, labs and network. This is the oasis – it’s just there, it just works, it nourishes existing activities instead of impeding them.

Finally, there is the strategic. This too is part of the oasis. It’s a somewhat distant, but reachable promise that IT can make things possible that were not possible without it. I really am astounded by the power  of the tools we have available today, but I think we are only just  beginning to figure out how to use them effectively. As we all know, IT has not always been equal to its hype. Where is our natural language search? AI? … and what about the problems it has created? Spam! Viri! Phishing! Information Overload!  This too is the mirage – a promise not kept or a hope not realized.”

Definitely sounds like it will be an interesting conference and although I cannot attend, I plan to  check  out many of  the presentations through their handouts and podcasts.

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