Law professors from around the country gathered in Seattle on Sept. 27 to put the printed textbook on trial, reports the Seattle Post Intelligencer. And because those professors and their universities influence the buying decisions of thousands of law students each year, traditional book publishers–as well as representatives from Adobe, Sony, and Microsoft–participated. The daylong discussion educed topics ranging from cerebral musings (could information proliferation make lawyers obsolete?) to technical nuance (what’s the difference between open source and open access?). At least one conclusion became clear: the fact that about 40 people gathered at Seattle University Law School on a sunny Saturday to ponder life beyond print shows that times are changing in publishing. Teachers want more flexibility, such as the ability to add their own information to text, insert audio files, and provide links. They also want more ways to engage students and have sought digital copies of textbooks that can be sorted and searched. "If the students had materials on their laptop, they wouldn’t be playing Battleship or shopping or doing other things during class," said Ed Rubin, dean of Vanderbilt University Law School. Efforts to reform legal course publishing are already under way. The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction is building an online tool kit that would allow professors more flexibility in creating course materials–and cyber-law professors plan to convene and create a joint electronic casebook, said Gene Koo, a fellow at Harvard Law School…

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