Live blogging LILAC: Parallel 1: Abdul Paliwala: Socrates & Confucius: A Long History of Information Technology in Legal Education

by Paul Maharg on 29/01/2010

Very interested to hear Abdul on this.  Socratic and Confucian learning — both, in Abdul's view, were highly focused on dialogic learning and on ethics.  He drew fascinating lines of comparison between the two.  Socratic learning (in the Platonic dialogues) > Protagorean questioning > Langdellian so-called [my take on it…] socratic questioning, leading (in the States at least) to socratic CAL.  He compared this to the line he drew from Confucius > Dewey > New Realists > other forms of ICT learning.  Having just been researching Dewey in the East myself, I can see that the link between Confucius and Dewey isn't that far fetched (compare the amount of time and effort invested by Dewey into Japan as opposed to China).  

Abdul took this forward in a number of directions. On the e-Socrates side, in his view the UK (IOLIS, eg) developed CAL in more sophisticated ways.  Early initiatives in the States were developed by Ron Staudt's e-casebook — interesting view of the historical development of this.

On the eConfucius side, he drew a bead between Realism and Pragmatism in the field.  The case method, of course, ignored real experience of law.  The clinical legal movement is, in Abdul's view the key to realism in legal education.  There are live e-clinics at Chicago-Kent and at Harvard (Pericles), as well as web clinics in the alternative law forum, in Bangalore. And of course this is where simulation fits in as well — Ardcalloch, SIMPLE, etc.  The key here, as always, is the management of information and communication.  The lecture tradition, by contrast, according to Abdul, enters the electronic era as text on screen.  

Abdul finished by talking about the convergence of media and the transformation of the geography of learning.  There is access to vast information datasets, multimedia convergence, comms devices such as the iPhone, democratisation from free law and social networks, and the virtual worlds movement.  In the socratic tradition, there is still Q & A, on laptops, etc.  The Confucian / Realist focuses on exploration of knowledge and also self-exploration.  

This was a fascinating presentation, drawing on Abdul's enormous experience in legal education, and giving us a history of our past.  My summary really just gives some of his presentation — the rest is up on the LILAC wiki, and well worth looking at.  I'd query some aspects of it; but Abdul's overview and his handling of detail was very powerful.  

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