Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Tradition! Tradition!

Now that I’ve graduated and passed that whole bar exam thing, I’m gainfully employed at a law school. Part of my job involves taking traditional (“analog”) classes and adapting them to take advantage of that whole internet thing. I encounter a good amount of enthusiasm from the handful of law professors I work with, but I inevitably, someone insists that “that whole internet thing” is for playtime and education is fine the way it is (in meatspace). I found this quote puts things in the proper perspective:

About 85 institutions in the Western world established by 1500 still exist in recognizable forms, with similar functions and unbroken histories, including the Catholic church, the Parliaments of the Isle of Man, of Iceland, and of Great Britain, several Swiss cantons, and 70 universities. Kings that rule, feudal lords with vassals, and guilds with monopolies are all gone.

These seventy universities, however, are still in the same locations with some of the same buildings, with professors and students doing much the same things, and with governance carried on in much the same ways.

– Clark Kerr, The Uses of the University

You could argue that universities have persisted in their ways, and higher education has remained unchanged because it is perfect; nature is rife with animals that have remained unchanged for tens or even hundreds of millions of years. That only holds up so long as you can stay at the top of the food chain. I don’t think it’s a terrible stretch to imagine “that whole internet thing” as the new apex predator.

I mean, come on. How’s the traditional learning model supposed to compete with this?