Six years ago, the fair housing clinic at Columbia University law school translated everything from paper to disk. To hear Professor Conrad Johnson remember the shift, it sounds like he discovered the Rosetta stone. “Imagine all of this, plus a couple of books,” he says, pointing to a stack of overflowing file folders. “That is what the students used to get.” Johnson and his colleague, Brian Donnelly, director of instructional services and a lecturer, didn’t stop there. They also created an application that allowed student and teacher alike to annotate the materials. As students look at a statute on the monitor, they can click on highlighted text and a window will pop open with commentary on an important point. Or students can copy the text and make their own electronic notes in this format.
Today, in one of Johnson’s courses, the Race Conscious Remedies seminar, students must design a Web site. One of the students, Chris Lewis, who will join the New York office of Pittsburgh’s Kirkpatrick & Lockhart after graduation, had never built a site before. Now, he’s designed six, including one for the African American Policy Forum. Without Johnson’s and Donnelly’s assistance, says Lewis, “I wouldn’t have considered it.”
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