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The University of Oklahoma College of Law has been recognized for a second time as an Apple Distinguished School, acknowledging the college’s comprehensive effort to educate and prepare law students to become technologically competent attorneys.
Since first earning the recognition in 2017, through the OU Law Center for Technology and Innovation in Practice, the college has continued to evolve its Digital Initiative as new technologies emerge and impact the delivery of legal services.
“Today’s lawyers must be able to work effectively and efficiently in a digital environment. Since the inception of our Digital Initiative six years ago, OU Law has revolutionized modern legal education. When our students graduate, they are empowered with their abilities and expertise as digital legal natives,” said OU Law Interim Dean Katheleen Guzman. “We are very proud to receive our second consecutive Apple Distinguished School designation, which reaffirms our innovative approach to preparing students to be the next generation of legal professionals.”
Apple Distinguished Schools are centers of innovation, leadership and educational excellence that use Apple products to inspire creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. They showcase innovative uses of technology in learning, teaching and the school environment, and have documented results of academic accomplishment.
OU Law: Nationally Recognized in Modern Legal Education
In response to the growing demand for technologically proficient law graduates, in 2014 OU Law introduced its Digital Initiative, a multifaceted approach built around four core elements:
- the common platform of the sixth generation iPad, Apple Pencil and keyboard case – given to all students at no cost – for note-taking, annotating course materials and conducting legal research;
- a comprehensive technology training program through workshops and in law school courses;
- re-orienting learning spaces around the ideas of collaboration and active learning using modern technology; and
- exploring and implementing emerging technologies, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, for use in law practice.
Technology is integrated into daily learning at OU Law in a number of ways. Each academic year, the college offers at least 50 learning opportunities, which explore applications that aid in legal practice, such as Office 365, Adobe Acrobat, cloud storage and practice management systems. Several sessions feature leading experts at law firms and technology companies.
In addition to training sessions outside of class, many OU Law classes integrate technology into the curriculum. For example:
- students on moot court teams are trained to use cloud storage and collaboration features of iPad and are shown how to use a variety of brief writing tools;
- all Trial Techniques courses incorporate TrialPad, an app for demonstrating evidence in courtrooms and boardrooms; and
- in other courses, students are taught how to use the suite of Thomson Reuters “Practice Ready” legal research, writing and analytical tools.
Three faculty members at OU Law have written e-textbooks for their courses, resulting in a significant cost savings to students and a more efficient way to study, with the use of highlighting, notes, bookmarks, embedded multimedia elements and links to external sources.
Collaborative Learning Spaces
As legal education evolves, OU Law continues to adapt its infrastructure to support the needs of students and faculty. Several areas of Andrew M. Coats Hall have been transformed into technology-rich spaces that promote collaboration and student engagement. When the Inasmuch Foundation Collaborative Learning Center was completed in 2016, 8,000 square feet of the law library was remade into a technologically oriented space, featuring four multimedia study rooms, a computer lab, two virtual reality stations, a flipped seminar classroom and an enhanced service area combining circulation, reference and technology support.
Later this year, another 1,500-square-foot area of the law library will become the Chickasaw Nation Active Learning Classroom – a dynamic environment that will expand courses beyond the traditional lecture format and encourage students to become engaged participants in their own learning.
OU Law Center for Technology and Innovation in Practice
Building on the foundation of the Digital Initiative, in 2017 OU Law launched the Center for Technology and Innovation in Practice, bringing together and expanding the elements of the Digital Initiative. The center offers technology certifications and opportunities to explore new law practice technology.
Additionally, a new student group, the Technology and Legal Innovation Society, provides an outlet for students interested in technology and innovation in law practice.
OU Law has been recognized as one of the “Top 20 Most Innovative Law Schools in the Country,” and student satisfaction with the project is over 95%. OU Law’s Digital Initiative project is frequently cited as the model for the integration of technology into the law school curriculum.
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