Infographics on Technology

Lauren McCormick:

This is a very interesting and informative look into how technology is impacting education.

Originally posted on Instructional Technology at Albany Law School:

Below are a few infographics that illustrate different ways that technology is impacting education for both students and teachers:

How are college students using technology?

Source Credit BachelorsDegreeOnline

What about ebooks?

Source Credit Schools.com

Interesting info on technology use:

Source Credit LearnStuff

Each of these infographics have shown how technology will continue to be a large part of learning and teaching.

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1Ls Less Distracted by Laptops Than Upperclassmen

Lauren McCormick:

Darlene Cardillo posted this on her Technology blog. I thought it may be of interest to everyone.

Originally posted on Instructional Technology at Albany Law School:

class

Another interesting article from the National Law Journal:

Law school upperclassmen are far more likely than their first-year counterparts to spend classroom time checking Facebook, playing solitaire, scanning sports scores or otherwise goofing around on their laptop computers, according to recent research.

Classroom observers found that among the 2Ls and 3Ls equipped with laptops, 87 percent used the devices for non-academic purposes for more than five minutes per class; 58 percent were distracted by their computer screens at least half the time.

By contrast, a mere 4 percent of the 1Ls observed during a civil-procedure course were “strongly distracted” by their computers, and 44 percent were never distracted.

The findings come from St. John’s University School of Law professor Jeff Sovern’s article in the latest edition University of Louisville Law Review: “Law Student Laptop Use During Class For Non-Class Purposes: Temptation v. Incentives.”

But he wasn’t the first to look at how…

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Free Upcoming Webinar: Flipping the Law School Classroom

Join LegalED for a free webinar on
Flipping the Law School Classroom

When:  Friday, Sept 27th from 2-3 pm EST

 What is LegalED?  Founded by law professors, LegalED is a website, legaledweb.com, designed to collect teaching materials for legal education.  The site is host to a growing collection of short videos (each 15 minutes or less) on law and law-related topics (substantive, procedural, practical skills and professional values), as well as classroom exercises and assessment tools.  The videos on substantive law could be assigned to students for viewing outside the classroom, in a flipped or blended learning environment, to supplement in-class teaching or to bring new perspectives into a course.  Here is a recent article about LegalED.

What is flipped or blended learning?  Flipped learning blends online with face-to-face instruction.  It uses the internet for what it does well – information and knowledge delivery.  When relevant information is delivered by online videos, face-to-face classtime can be devoted to learning activities that not only reinforce the knowledge, but also ask students to use their new learning to analyze, evaluate, apply or create material – all of which reinforces learning.

Registration:  To register send an email to: meeting@uif.org with your name and institution (participants will be asked to call into the webinar from a phone (with mute functionality, so as to avoid feedback) and should have access to a computer on which they can follow the presentation).

Register soon: space limited to the first 20 participants.
How the webinar will work:  We are “flipping” the instruction so that we can maximize the take-aways from the webinar through active dialogue and discussion.

In preparation, all participants will prepare (approx. 20 min.) for the session by:

(1) watching two short LegalED videos (each less than 6 minutes) on the topic of flipping the law school classroom  http://legaledweb.com/online-learning/;

(2) watching a short video on persuasive lawyering http://legaledweb.com/practical-lawyering-skills/ ;

(3) reading a blog post on how the persuasive lawyering video was used in a flipped classroom http://legaledweb.com/blog/2013/8/27/flipping-the-law-school-classroom.

The webinar is organized and presented by Professor Michele Pistone, Villanova University School of Law, with support from the Uncommon Individual Foundation, uif.org.

Cross-posted from: http://legaledweb.com/flipped-learning-webinar

A Student’s Perspective on Technology in the Classroom

I have been a student at two law schools now: one is the well-established Albany Law and the other is a new law school in Tennessee that just graduated its first class in May, the Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law. There are, of course, vast differences between the two schools, but my post today is intended to talk about the relative approaches to legal instruction in relation to technology in the classroom. Of course, each professor has his or her own methods for teaching any given class; however, there are stark differences between the over-arching practices of each school. While Duncan may not have the longest history as an institution, the school was able to develop innovative techniques regarding the  use of technology and progressive teaching methodology without being burdened by “tradition” or resistance to change.

Priding itself on its technology in the classroom, Duncan professors made prevalent use of audio-visual presentations (charts, power point slides, etc.) and computer-aided instructional techniques. Among the practices supplementing traditional instruction methods were daily “turning point quizzes.” At the beginning of each class, students were electronically asked a series of questions regarding the materials covered in the previous class; some classes graded these quizzes, others were merely for instructional purposes. The students would respond (usually by answering MBE-style multiple choice questions), and their answers would be displayed in poll-results format. Based on the results, the instructor was able to spot where the students lacked a complete understanding of the material and was better able to proceed with the day’s class–building on previous understanding towards a more complete instruction method. These “turning point” quizzes are similar to “Clicker” quizzes, except that the turning point quizzes could also have varied answer formats (such as short answer and essay responses).

The instruction style at Albany Law seems to be more traditional, that is, the instructor usually uses a modified Socratic method. I have been in classes that have taken a more practical approach, even including simulated cases–this is a somewhat recent addition presumably brought about by our Best Practices efforts. Of course, once the class period is over, there is typically little “looking back.” While material certainly built upon previous topics, the process is sometimes less clear. During the previous year (my first year at Albany Law), I found myself missing the constant feedback of the “turning point” quizzes and the ability to go back and review slides to revisit lectures if I needed clarification of some topic that was covered. I do not intend to say that my education was somehow better at my previous school than it is now–I have had teachers so glued to the textbook and their powerpoint presentations that they barely took time to actually teach–but the use of technology in the classroom to further outcome-based learning techniques was a crucial instrument to my learning process.

Of course, Duncan is in its relative infancy. The students did not have access to the clinical and practical experiences available to students at a more developed school with a more extensive network of connections. I would suggest a blending of the two styles: student-oriented outcome-based learning (perhaps through the use of reviewable technology and turning point quizzes to supplement the more doctrinal courses) and clinical/practical experiences.

If anyone can think of some practical ways to incorporate the use of technology in a class to further outcome-based techniques, please share your ideas in the comments.

Flipped Learning for Legal Education

Hi Everyone! Mary just invited me to join this blogging community. Glad to be here.

For my first post, I’d like to think about how flipped or blended learning could be used in legal education. Flipped learning blends online and in-class instruction and has been used of late in lots of educational settings, including K-12 and undergrad. I think there is a place for it in legal education too.

The way I see it, flipping the classroom can take a lot of different forms.  I envision them along a spectrum, something like this –

At one end of the spectrum, it can be used to

1. Reinforce learning after class — professors can assign online videos for students to watch after class, to help clarify and/or reinforce the doctrinal concepts that were taught in class, and help to build students’ doctrinal knowledge.

2. Lay a foundation – professors could require students to watch videos that cover basic, foundational concepts – so classtime can start further along the learning process.

3. Supplement with different perspectives — Professors may also assign online videos (prepared by other professors) to supplement their own lectures, so that their students can hear different voices or perspectives on a particular topic or to have students hear from experts on topics beyond the professor’s own field of expertise.

4. Facilitate higher level Socratic dialogue – when professors assign videos for students to watch before class, students have time to think about and reflect on the lesson before arriving in the classroom. That way the videos may reinforce the concepts in the assigned reading and when students come into class – having heard the lesson on the reading before class — they will be ready and able to engage in a higher level of Socratic dialogue and discussion of assigned hypothetical and in-class problems.

5. Integrate essential lawyering skills — when online videos are assigned as homework, as a substitute for a professor’s own lecture — class time is freed up for more active learning exercises that incorporate some essential lawyering competencies.

6. Professor as Facilitators/Guides — Some professors may decide to use videos to help integrate practical lawyering skills in doctrinal courses. Students could be required to review videos on substantive law and on practical lawyering skills out of class. Then, classtime can be devoted to simulations or role plays in which the students use the material they learned on video to engage in essential lawyering skills – such as negotiations, interviews, or oral arguments.

In this way, the professor is moving from a position at the front of the class, to a coach who works one on one with students, or with small groups of students, during assigned classtimes. And it promotes collaboration and team building among students.

This last category would be at the other end of the spectrum and allow professors to bring more training in practical lawyering skills into each course.

What do you think?  Let me know if I’m missing something.  I am speaking about how to use technology in our teaching at the AALS Clinical Conference next week.  I’d love to hear your reaction to these ideas before then.

The Future of Legal Education: Ted Talks, Kahn Academy and LegalED Web

http://albanylawtech.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/live-blogging-from-the-celt-workshop/

Live Blogging from the CELT Workshop

pistone

On April 17, 2013, Michelle Pistone, Professor of Law and Director, Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES) at Villanova University School of Law, spoke to the Albany Law School faculty on the topic of How Emerging Innovations Will Disrupt Legal Education:

Her engaging presentation began with a clip from 1994 of Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric from the Today Show debating the pronunciation of a mysterious keyboard symbol, the”@” symbol. From there and Bob Dylan (“The Times They Are A Changin”), she reminisced about buying books and records at neighborhood stores, seeing movies in the theaters, and when TV shows only played once a week, and if you missed them, you had to hope they’d be rerun during the summer.

Yes, this has all changed. Books and newspapers are now digital. TV shows and movies can be watched at anytime and on computers and phones. These changes are result of innovations which have created a new world.

However, this is the only world that our students know!! They were born digital.

As a result, our students are visual, connected, relate to one another through technology, have an abundance of information that is available at any time from any place. They are used to convenience, speed, multi-tasking, immediate feedback and working together on projects, collaborating, sharing, and creating.

So the important question that Prof. Pistone raised was: In light of these changes, have law schools changed enough?

And her answer was: “Law schools have not changed much in the last 100 years.”

K-16 education has been changing. We have the addition of MOOCS (massive open online courses); Khan Academy which offers videos and quizzes that can being used alone or to flip the classroom. TED ED which makes videos for use in high school – students watch videos online for homework and then can come into class ready to do active problem based learning (thus “flipping the classroom”).

Prof. Pistone recommended reading the book Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clay Christensen. In it, he introduces the key concepts of sustaining technologies (those that improve the performance of established products) and disruptive technologies. Although “disruptive technologies” result in worse product performance in the short term, they are typically cheaper, simpler, smaller, and, frequently, more convenient to use (Skype being an example.) So we need to adapt to them.

A study conducted by the Department of Education found that blended learning (a combination of online and face-to-face instruction) obtained better results for students and than either face-to-face or completely online learning. This is something to keep in mind.

So what is next for law schools?

Prof. Pistone recommends focusing on:

  • What we teach – in light of our changing, globalizing, interdisciplinary world
  • How we teach — to cover a wide range of competencies and reach different learning styles
  • How we assess what students are learning – supplementing the final summative exam with formative assessment
  • How we signal to others a student’s competencies

legaled

Lastly, Prof. Pistone introduced her new project called LegalED. LegalED is a web-based platform that will host teaching materials for legal education. The materials will include:

  • short videos made for internet viewing
  • problems and exercises
  • assessment tools

This online platform of teaching materials (esp. the short videos) can be used to supplement law school and to “flip” the classroom.

legaled1

Prof. Pistone’s presentation concluded with a lively discussion by faculty on law school competencies that cannot be taught online (such as empathy), mapping competencies to the teaching process, mastery/adaptive learning, bar exam…


Effective Use of Video Cards in a Course

Sometimes technological options exceed our immediate or obvious teaching needs, and we have to consider whether (or not) there are ways to effectively make use of the technology. For example, it is now easy for schools to make camcorders and small, inexpensive memory cards available for use in coursework.

Providing these tools directly to professors and students on a self-service basis eliminates some administrative costs that would otherwise be involved if they remained solely in the hands of staff. It also allows for nearly limitless flexibility regarding where, when, and how the cards are put to use. All students in a course can be required to check them out and use them for specific purposes connected to the individual course.

So we’ve got the ability to make, store, edit, and show videos – of student presentations, guest speakers, simulated lawyering events, and whatever else we can envision. What are some specific ways to truly take advantage of these options in our teaching?

Faculty Share Best Practices

On November 3, 2010, the topic of the weekly lunchtime Faculty Teaching/Scholarship workshop at Albany Law School was “Technology” and, specifically, how TWEN can add a new dimension to law school learning. Instead of providing a “how-to” workshop by me, the Instructional Technologist, we decided that it would be more useful for the faculty to hear from their peers.

I began the session sharing the results of a pre-semester survey which asked the faculty: Which Westlaw TWEN options do you use to enhance student learning? and Which options would you like to learn more about?

The responses to the 1st question indicated a preponderance of static content and a lack of opportunity for interactivity by students. The 2nd question pointed to an interest by faculty in hearing about discussions, wikis and embedding digital content.

During the next part of the workshop, six faculty members discussed their experiences using the following interactive TWEN tools:

  1. (Discussion) Forums
  2. Customized Polling (Surveys)
  3. Wikis

They focused on the advantages they saw in using that tool and shared lessons learned. The presentation with notes added (in red) is posted below:

All in all, the workshop was very well received. A survey has been posted to TWEN to solicit additional feedback.

More technology workshops of this type are planned.

 The next one  is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2011. The topic will be Digital Student Recording & Assessment.

 

Harvard Law School’s New “Casebook” for the Digital Age

The casebook began with Langdell at Harvard Law School, and so it is reimagined by another Harvard Law School professor.  Jonathan Zittrain and other developers, introduced a new electronic “casebook” today at a luncheon held at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. 

The goal of the new system is not simply to provide students with a digital casebook, but a new suite of tools to help students and professors collaberate.  The suite is called H2O and includes a syllabus (called a “playlist”), a question tool, casebook creation tool, and a “rotisserie” discussion tool “which enables a structured discussion. Users respond to a question, then are assigned discussion partners, who critique their responses.”  The professor can also mark up the text using a resource called “collage” which “allows for tagging text, annotating it, and hiding portions of text without changing the original document.”

One key benefit to the system is to promote student discussion. “Students can outline and mark up cases they’re assigned to study and share them with a study group.”  Another benefit is that it could help create new course structures. “‘I like contracts, I like torts, I’m not going to teach contorts because there’s no book for it. but if I can easily do my own bespoke syllabus drawing on the work of others, I could.’”

There is a playlist currently available to view (click Playlist and scroll to Chapter 2: Battery).  The professor is able to give a brief overview of what is being covered and how the cases fit together.  Click on a case, and you will see how the professor has highlighted important aspects.

You can read more about it in a blog post at The Atlantic and in a blog post by Ethan Zuckerman.

The real question is: will this new method of teaching catch on?

Integrating Internet-Based and Teleconferencing Resources into On-Line Teaching

Note: This is a continuing weblog describing my experiences teaching an on-line course in government ethics.

The on-line government ethics course this semester has already benefitted from a number of internet-based resources as well as teleconferencing.  With one of my early organizing goals to keep the “virtual class” as interactive as possible through the use of discussion boards and wikis available on TWEN, I also looked to see what other resources might be available on the Internet. To my surprise, there were a number of opportunities to integrate interactive ethics training into the course. 

For example, most state ethics agencies now offer on-line training for covered employees.  I contacted the NYS Commission on Public Integrity and they were agreeable to providing each of the students in the course with a user ID and password to enable students to take the Commission’s on-line training based on the ethics laws in New York.  This training was a wonderful introduction for the students to the types of issues typically covered in an ethics regulatory regime.  Another aspect of this on-line training was that at the end of each topical interval there was a quiz for participants to complete.  The entire training could take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to complete, depending upon whether users go straight through the course, or take the opportunity to click on links to actual statutes, regulations and opinions that go into further detail on the particular subject matter being discussed.  I asked the students to evaluate this training experience when they concluded the program. Their reactions were interesting.  Almost everyone commented that the training was beneficial and a good introduction for government employees about the law.  Many students commented that they thought this on-line training was too basic, yet, a number of these students also admitted that they were surprised to have gotten a lot of the quiz questions wrong.  From this, several students observed how nuanced government ethics laws really are, and that the appropriate course of action when it comes to ethics is not always so obvious. This was an excellent teaching opportunity to point out how even people who are “trained” in the law can make mistakes, how individuals may not fully understand the application of the law to their actions, and why it is important to carefully read the statutes and regulations and to critically analyze the facts and the law. 

Early in the semester we studied the difficulties surrounding the question of attorney-client privilege in the government context.  As luck would have it, ALI-ABA was promoting a one-hour practitioner-oriented teleconference on the attorney-client privilege.  Although this was not focused exclusively on government law practice, I thought it would be a good opportunity for the students to get a fuller understanding of the practical issues involved in application of the privilege.  Perhaps because I frequently volunteer to teach ALI-ABA courses, I asked and was given permission for my students to participate in the course at no charge.  ALI-ABA sent each student a password to access the lunch-time program.  While many students commented that they wished the program had focused on the privilege in the government context, a lot of students wrote in their program evaluation to me that the course was interesting and they reflected on how it related to both what we studied in government ethics and what they discussed in their professional responsibility and evidence classes.  This proved to be another good experience and opportunity to weave together ethics and professionalism and evidence along the continuum of the overall law school educational experience. It was practice oriented and it also covered doctrinal subject matter tested on the bar exam.

Lastly, for fun, the federal Office of Government Ethics (OGE) offers interactive games to reinforce serious ethics subject matter.  I provided students a link in the weekly course materials folders to two of OGE’s interactive crossword puzzles where users can test their knowledge of federal ethics laws. While I didn’t specifically require the students to complete the crossword puzzles, I used it as an optional and alternative on-line teaching tool.

The above are just some of the examples of the various tools available to supplement a virtual classroom learning experience.  Although I have not used them yet, there are government ethics training videos available on You-Tube and other web-based sources, and a number of states post on-line the oral arguments before their high court, providing yet another great resource for many different subject areas.

Patty Salkin, Albany Law School

“I’d like to thank the Academy…”: Using Movies in the Law School Classroom

The conversation that follows reminds me that when we, those supportive of the Best Practice model, use words like “innovation” and “engagement,” what we really mean is effective innovation and efficient engagement. When venturing away from the traditional delivery methods in the name of engagement and innovation, the most effective and efficient delivery methods must be accompanied by clearly articulated educational goals.

On a Tuesday afternoon, early in the new semester, Professor Hillary Farber posted a short and direct question to the Law Clinic Listserv. She asked, “Does anyone have any good discussion questions for this film [12 Angry Men] you would be willing to share?

 These are the responses that were shared:
(please feel free to add your own comments) Continue reading

Course Design – Technology Meets Substance in On-Line Curriculum Development

After setting course learning outcomes for the on-line government ethics course, I had to revise my syllabus to better match my goals and desired outcomes mindful of the on-line format, and I had to develop creative strategies for creating a vibrant virtual discussion that would satisfactorily create a functional equivalent of an in-person classroom discussion.

To be honest, this was easier than I thought it would be using the functionality of TWEN.  I selected one soft cover book as the course text, and have supplemented that with readings mostly available on-line or in the public domain that are posted to the course site in weekly course resource folders.

I typically require students to complete assignments in my courses, and I wanted to find a way that these tasks could add to the vibrancy of the course by being shared with all  participants rather than being e-mailed only to me using the TWEN assignment drop-box. At the end of December, TWEN added a Wiki function to the site, and this was the perfect opportunity.  Each student was asked to sign-up for one state that they will follow through the semester.  I set up a series of Wikis where students will be posting short narratives and links to statutes, regulations and opinions from their state about subject matters we will be studying that particular week.  All of the states the students selected appear on the Wiki page for a given week, and each student accesses the Wiki and inputs the information for their state. So, for example, in week two, students have to merely find and post the on-line links to their state ethics commission, ethics laws and lobbying laws.  In week three, students will have to actually critically read and start to parse aspects of the state statutes in order to answer a series of questions about their state ethics commission.  The assignment reads as follows:

Using the state laws from the state you have selected for the semester (note: the following 10 states do NOT have ethics commissions – Arizona, Idaho, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming), please find the applicable provisions dealing with the composition of the state ethics commission. Under your state listing in this wiki, please answer the questions below:

1. How many people are on the commission (board)?
2. Who appoints the members of the commission (board)?
3. What is the term of office for members?
4. Are there criteria/qualifications/disqualifications for members?
5. Are there provisions for removal of members?
 How is the chair of the commission (board) selected?
7. Who appoints the executive director of the commission (board)?
8. Is the executive director appointed for a term?
9. Does the law provide for removal of the executive director?
10. Does the commission (board) have subpoena power?
11. Does the commission have jurisdiction over both executive and legislative branch officers and employees; municipal employees; lobbyists?

Provide the on-line link to the applicable provisions of state law that support your summary.

When completed, the class will have a 23-state comparative overview of the differences and similarities of state statutes on this topic which will be the basis of a question on our Discussion Board (I’ll write more about the Discussion Boards in a future posting).

For those interested, my colleague Darlene Cardillo, our Instructional Technologist at Albany Law School has posted a summary of week one of the course from a technology perspective on her blog here. The results of our pre-course student survey about their familiarity with on-line learning and with TWEN can be viewed here, you can read about the only in-person class, a one hour orientation here,.

Patty Salkin, Albany Law School

Setting Goals and Evaluation for an On-Line Course

With the recent focus on outcomes for learning, I decided to provide students taking the first on-line course at Albany Law School with written goals for the semester.  The following was posted for the students:

COURSE GOALS:

By the end of the course, students who participate fully should be able to:

1)    APPLY acquired knowledge of government ethics laws in general, and regulations that apply specifically to government lawyers, statewide and nationally to challenges facing individuals who work in the public sector at any level of government in any state;

2)    RECOGNIZE & EVALUATE differing perspectives surrounding the public policy goals and dynamics of regulating the conduct of public officials and employees, and the roles of the various oversight agencies involved in the education, enforcement and prosecution of public actors for alleged civil and/or criminal wrongdoing;

3)    EXAMINE CRITICALLY  laws (existing and proposed), policies, systems and structures which govern  those who work in the public sector as well as those in the private sector who interact with government employees to identify applicable laws, loopholes and opportunities; and

4)    DEMONSTRATE COLLABORATION/COLLEAGIALITY AND PROFESSIONALISM through participation in the active on-line and team learning aspects of the course which will be essential to effective client counseling and representation and/or negotiation in the development of ethics laws and regulations.

Naturally, students want to know how they will be evaluated.  This required a lot of consideration for an on-line class.  When I previously taught the course I told the students I expected that they follow the Law School’s published attendance policy, and that class participation and completion of assignments would count towards their grade.  Since the course was taught seminar style, in lieu of an exam, students were required to submit a 20-25 page research paper at the end of the semester. The paper was weighted significantly in calculating grades. 

After reflecting on the goals to make sure that the students were being evaluated appropriately based on the desired outcomes, I developed the following grading rubric:

Assessment/Grading:  Your performance will be assessed throughout the semester as you participate in on-line discussions, and complete wikis and other assignments.  The amount of time you spend on-line in the course site and its various component assignments, combined with the quality of your postings which should reflect the knowledge and skills you acquire as the semester goes on, will be incorporated the feedback you receive during the semester as well as in your final grade.

Effort reflected by time on line                                                                  25%

Completion of all assignments and discussions                                  25%

(quality demonstrating reading and reflection of materials and other student comments)

Accurate and comprehensive completion of                                         25%   

Wiki assignments

Accurate and comprehensive completion of group                              25%

project

In future postings I will describe the discussion boards, the use of wikis and the group project.  To determine time on line, which is the closest I could come to an attendance policy for an on-line course, I told students I would view the “activity” reports provided by TWEN.  I cautioned students that I would be able to tell who simply logged on to the TWEN site and then left for a couple of hours with the browser open to make it appear as though they were actively engaged in reviewing information on the site.

Patty Salkin, Albany Law School

Objection! Helping Clinical Students Practice Trial Skills

For the better part of the last decade, students in Albany Law’s Domestic Violence Prosecution Hybrid Clinic have used a computer program called “You Be the Judge” to help them sharpen their evidentiary objections.  It takes about forty-five minutes for students to complete a simulated trail during which they must object to various pieces of evidence and/or testimony using the Federal Rules of Evidence.  The student must choose when to object and write an explanation for the objection in the time allotted.

The appeal of the program is that it offered a simple and entertaining way to practice trial skills without the need for elaborate hypotheticals or the cooperation of fellow students. However, the game also had several drawbacks.  It only worked with very old operating systems. Correct answers were not always accepted if the student didn’t word them exactly how the game did, and the game offered limited feedback as to why answers where right and others were wrong.

We are now in search of a replacement program that would similarly allow students to practice their evidentiary objections.  Ideally the program would be based on the New York Rules of Evidence, but the Federal Rules would suffice. 

What similar programs do others use?  One newer program is the “Objection!” program (http://www.objection.com/products.html) has anyone used it?  Would anyone recommend it?  Thanks for any suggestions you could provide.

Organizing Technology to Teach On-Line

There are many technical issues to explore when setting up an on-line course.  The most important resource with respect to all aspects of technical course design was our superstar instructional technologist at Albany Law School, Darlene Cardillo (here is a link to her technology blog:   http://albanylawtech.wordpress.com). What follows are some of the important issues explored and lessons learned:

1 – What platform was available to “host” the course?  I had used Blackboard in the past, but Albany Law School did not have access to this.  In the end, TWEN was selected after Darlene’s recommendation.  I had some comfort with TWEN, having used some of its functionality last semester, but I definitely needed a tutorial on the possibilities it had for an on-line course. My next posting will provide details on how I am using the TWEN tools to deliver the course.

2 – What other software and hardware did I need? After deciding that I would not be having students log-in for live video chats (this eliminated the need for a webcam/camera in my computer and the need to download software (such as Skype), I did decide to try using slide presentations with my voice over to convey certain information for some weeks. To accomplish this, Darlene set me up with Adobe Presenter and a microphone.  I also got a small recorder that saves recordings as mp3 files for easy uploading to the course site.  This will allow me to post “podcasts” of interviews I might conduct during the semester.

3 – Practice.  I like the Adobe Presenter software since it allows me to record audio one slide at a time and save it.  I didn’t count on the amount of time it would take me to record the audio.  For week one I had 17 slides.  I figured it would take me 25-30 minutes to record the audio.  Wrong.  It took me 90 minutes.  I realized that when I went to record a “lasting memorial” of my words, I sought greater perfection than the more informal patterns of speech in front of the classroom.  I re-recorded individual slides more times that I care to relate.  I resisted though the temptation to “script” the slides.  I thought it would take too much time and my presentations/discussions in class are not “scripted” as such.  I wanted to words and speech patterns to seem real, yet polished.  The ninety minute investment was worth it – except, I did not save the presentation correctly, lost it, and had to start over again.  Hard lesson in what not to do!

4- Size of the files for posting.  Generally I have not had problems opening pdf files I have placed in the weekly resource files.  However, some difficulty was experienced opening the pdf of the slide presentation made with Adobe Presenter.  I may not have compressed the file when I saved it.  It was also advised that Adobe 9 was required to open the document. Aaron Cabbage at Westlaw who works on TWEN design/development has also recommended saving the slides in the future through Slide Share (http://www.slideshare.net ) and then posting a link from the TWEN site.  I may try that next.

Patty Salkin, Albany Law School

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