Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Record Breaking Snow Fall Shuts Down UA - But Not the LL.M. Program!

Well, perhaps the title to this post is a little sensational.  The entire University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, including the LL.M. Program is closed for today.  We received a record-breaking amount of snow -  more snow in 4 hours this morning than we usually receive in 3 years, hence a snow day.

However, the recent winter storms have been a great opportunity for those of us in the LL.M. Program to continue our experimentation with distance technology, and it is that technology that will help keep us on schedule.  It also allows me an opportunity to post about our use of technology in the classroom and to highlight a new development.

We already use live digital video conferences to bring the best legal experts that we can into our classes for special lectures.  Last semester, we conferenced with two former visiting professors, LL.M. alumnus, Doug O'Brien, who was serving as USDA Senior Advisor to Secretary Glickman, and long time friend and supporter, David Grahn, Associate General Counsel for Rural Development at the USDA.  And, we brought new experts into our classroom with video conferences with Charles Rawls, General Counsel for Farm Credit System and Randi Roth, Court Appointed Monitor in the landmark discrimination case of Pigford v. Glickman.

We use video resources such as FORAtv and news video clips in our regular classes.  And, we have a course called Agricultural Perspectives that uses documentaries to review and debate agricultural policy and perspectives.  In that class, we consider documentaries as far reaching as Guns, Germs, & Steel and Oh, Freedom After While to debate farm policy and our food system.

But, our newest technological resource is the ability to record a classroom presentation from home, using the law school's Echo Classroom Capture system.  This allows me to record a PowerPoint presentation with audio for the class.  As I live in the Ozark Mountains, just south of Fayetteville, and we received about 16 inches of snow this morning, that is how we will keep on schedule for tomorrow's Agricultural Labor class.  That's a view from my desk pictured above.  Later today, I will record a presentation for our class on the National Labor Relations Act and its exclusion of agricultural laborers from its protections.  I will email it to the class, and they can watch from the comfort and safety of their homes.  My appreciation is extended to our Library Director, Randy Thompson and our IT Echo expert, Bob Wheeler for their help in making this possible.

By the way, this snowy weather is not supposed to last long -  our weatherman has forecast 58 degrees by Monday.  The winter weather that reminds me of my home state of Minnesota will last for a few more days, and then it's back to "normal."

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