"Typically, the program runs on a stand-alone work station," Berwick said. "But we've put it up on our local area network with 12 simultaneous connections. I know of no other school that has done this."
 
The building also has more than 1,200 active jacks for laptop computers. More than 95% of first-year students have laptops, Berwick said; students can plug in at the library's 180 carrels, its tables, or "almost anywhere" to get e-mail or use the Web-accessed data bases the library provides.
 
A modem bank with 96 connections permits Internet use from home. The user-to-connection ratio is 7 to 1, well below the typical 9 or 10 to 1, Berwick said. The bottom line: no busy signals.

In addition to Shepard-Mendhall Electronic Teaching Lab, the Stolar Partnership Computer Lab has 35 computers for student use.

A student who takes full advantage of his school-provided e-mail account is Fran├žois Steichen, a third-year student in international law. He has used e-mail to formulate questions for his professors and to advance informal legal debates with his peers; now he has become skilled at uncovering job leads on Web data bases, in part by developing ways to search--for example, by Washington University law alumni.
 
Another distinctive aspect of the law school's connectivity is the fully wired Peper Martin Classroom, an enormous hall where faculty members such as Professor Stuart Banner teach. Banner has put his Property course readings on the Internet; students plug in their laptops at their seats and call up the materials on screen. They can access the information from any location, print it out, or save it and type in their own comments instead of cramming them into the margins. Another advantage: Students don't have to buy the heavy, expensive book that has traditionally been lugged around. "I'm teaching 150 students," Banner said, "and at $60 a pop, I'm collectively saving them $9,000."

The room also has a permanently mounted liquid-crystal-display (LCD) projector. Once Banner hooks up his laptop, he can project information from it onto a movie-theater-sized screen.


Fully Equipped Teaching and Learning

The technology infrastructure enhances teaching and learning with state-of- the-art equipment supported by the Multimedia Department. Using AVID software, director Darryl Barker digitizes analog film and layers voiceovers, music, and other elements for various educational uses.

"Skills courses" such as Trial Practice also depend on the School's multimedia resources. In the two moot courtrooms, interactive cameras tape student performances by automatically tracking voices around the room.


Third-year student Rena Samole and second-year student Kyle Williams facilitate their research by searching Web-accessed data bases from their study table.

 
Anheuser-Busch Hall also has four custom-designed classrooms equipped with ceiling-mounted LCDs and wired in the front, providing easy access for faculty laptops. The Multimedia Department also maintains a mobile recording station with a high-end digital camera, computer, VCR, and a 35-inch TV. In the past, each piece of equipment required separate setups and meticulous overall coordination, but the new system activates by merely plugging it in.

Tuned-in Faculty and Students

In his Advanced Legal Research course, Berwick trains students like Steichen to use not only hard copy, but also on-line data. "As attorneys, they'll use increasing amounts of Web-based information," he said.


In his Property course, Banner has "definitely sharpened discussions" by projecting passages from statutes and opinions on the big screen. He called his first experience with technology "wonderful"--noting that he's just getting started.
 
Another convert is Professor Jane Aiken, who teaches a Civil Justice Clinic about the legal needs of survivors of domestic violence; in it, students act as lawyers under her supervision. "I spent the summer putting all my materials on the Web," she said. By September she had an original work: "a 300-page desk book on how we handle these cases, containing all the primary materials for assisting clients." Aiken chose Folio software for its extensive search capability: "If my students are in court," she explained, "they can open the book on-line, search for whatever they need to know--even how to get a lock changed for a victim of domestic violence--and the computer will find that place in the book and deliver the numbers."
 
Professor Jane Aiken instructs third-year clinical student Aarrun Marcus on accessing her electronic reference book.

In her Evidence class, Aiken makes PowerPoint presentations, which she said appeal to the different learning styles among 120 students. Her Evidence Web site is itself a resource: Links include computer-assisted learning programs. This teaching is "very exciting," Aiken said, "and I couldn't do it but for Washington University. We have the technology, and many places don't. It has enhanced my life with my students enormously."
 

Why the Technology Works

"The test of our technology is how we're using it," Berwick pointed out. Certainly 100BASE-T is great, he said, but it would be useless without resources to purchase equipment and applications that use it.
"THE WHOLE DEAL IN LAW IS TO GET THE INFORMATION AND GET IT QUICKLY."
-Philip Berwick

Indeed, "one of the things Information Resources does is introduce students and faculty to a wide range of publications and products," Berwick said. "The whole deal in law is to get the information and get it quickly. One of the things we're trying to show students is how some of these commercial materials will affect the way they practice law. Take tax services. My philosophy is to buy all of them so students can see the differences. The approach is much more costly, but the depth of collections is one way to differentiate excellent schools from ordinary ones."
 
Berwick added that products from equipment to applications would go unused without staff assistance. "We have the best support staff you can imagine," Aiken agreed. "They've created the opportunity to use enormous numbers of technological advances in our teaching. They sat me down and trained me in a way that made me want to use that opportunity."
 
On the student side, Steichen said he is pleased with the support staff's "willingness and ability to solve problems. They've been helpful so now, whenever I have a computer problem, I seek their assistance."
 
Berwick summed it up: "The bottom line is our students. They're the reason for everyone's efforts."

Almost On Screen

"One of the things we've learned about technology is that people are unforgiving," said Philip Berwick, associate dean for information services. "If you go to a Web site and it's crummy, you never go back. Users give you no strikes, so the testing phase is really important." With that in mind, some of the advances under way include the following:

  • Upgrading the wiring system to Gigabit Ethernet--that's 1000BASE-T--in the year 2000.

  • Activating Anheuser-Busch Hall's fiber-optic backbone.

  • Installing a classroom wireless LAN (local area network), which sidesteps the disruption and expense of wiring and puts students on-line at their desks.

  • Installing wireless LAN in the 207-seat Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom so laptops can be used during meetings.

  • Videotaping classes in a digital format for later playing on the law school's LAN.

  • Using multimedia equipment that gives students on-line capabilities to edit tapes of oral presentations in trial courses, so they can check their progress throughout the semester.

  • Refining teleconferencing technology in order to provide long-distance team teaching and postgraduate legal education and to facilitate student interviews with firms outside the area.


BACK TABLE OF CONTENTS FORWARD