The typical law school classroom for a doctrinal course utilizes a learning structure that limits opportunities for students to learn directly from the professor. Time constraints inherent in the need for coverage and the desire to keep the class engaged encourages movement through the material. Cognitivist learning theory views learning as involving the movement of information from sensory memory (perception) into short-term, working memory for analysis and organization, and then into long-term memory for storage. This process of information movement suggests that the typical law school classroom creates impediments to student learning. Distracted students who fail to capture the concept presented in class might never begin the process flow. The amount of information that a student must process in the limited time of the classroom — that is, the cognitive load — can be so great that information gets lost, especially when cognitive load is heightened by the lack of organizing principles or schemata. Podcasts — short audio or video recordings on a specific topic — created by the professor can overcome these impediments by allowing students to listen repeatedly, thereby assuring initial sensory capture and allowing students to control the pace of concept presentation so that cognitive load is managed.
This article discusses what podcasting is and describes the program of podcasting I have used for five years in my Property I and II classes. It examines the educational problems suggested by learning theory and how podcasting can overcome those problems in a way that benefits both student and professor. It also presents and analyzes data from student surveys I have conducted during those five years which show that students use and highly value podcasts as an important addition to their educational experience.
- legal education,
- learning theory,
- law school,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kenneth_kristl/14/