Using Technology to Confuse Students

August 14, 2014

recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education highlights the results of an experiment done about 10 years ago by Derek Muller, then a doctoral candidate at the University of Sydney,

Muller created two types of videos to teach science to his students.

In some videos, he had an actor explain the concepts straightforwardly or “concisely.” In other videos, he included more ambiguity which some of the students called “confusing.”

But when Mr. Muller analyzed the results of tests he administered to the students before and after showing them the videos, he found that “the students who had watched the more confusing videos learned more” but the other students seems more confident in their understanding.

In 2011, Muller concluded:

“It seems that, if you just present the correct information, five things happen. One, students think they know it. Two, they don’t pay their utmost attention. Three, they don’t recognize that what was presented differs from what they were already thinking. Four, they don’t learn a thing. And five, perhaps most troublingly, they get more confident in the ideas they were thinking before.”

So maybe law professors should try adding some confusing situations to their cohesive PowerPoint presentations?

Putting Students in the Driver’s Seat: Technology Projects to Decrease Passivity

August 6, 2014

An excellent article was published recently in Faculty Focus – Higher Ed teaching Strategies.

According the article, most college professors promote a very passive learning atmosphere in their classroom.  In other words, they are the “sage on the stage.” Even when they do use technology, the learning is still teacher-driven i.e. online exercises, watching a teacher-created podcast,  video or PowerPoint.

The author of this article, Dr. Ike Shibley, an associate professor of chemistry at Penn State Berks, proposes “letting students drive.” He suggests giving assignments where the students themselves are the co-creators of knowledge rather than the recipients and the students use technology as the vehicle to accomplish this.

Shipley also describes two projects that he assigned in his team-taught neurobiology course where the students used iMovie and Garage Band to teach their peers about course content.

It is mentioned, as well, that these technical skills are important for student to have when applying for jobs and students may even end up becoming more engaged with technology after having used it on their own to create learning content.

I know of some law students here, at Albany Law School, who have had to create PowerPoint presentations, others who have used wikis to create course outlines together, some who have used an online forum to lead discussions and one adjunct professor who had each of his students create a short video and submit it through TWEN.

Do any of your professors assign projects that have the students using technology? If so, which technology tool did the students use?

Prezi instead of PowerPoint?

July 7, 2014

Prezi is a cloud-based presentation platform. Unlike slides, Prezi’s open, zoom-able canvas lets you show relationships between the big picture and fine details, putting your ideas in context.

Here are some lawschool-related examples:

Check out these links to get started using Prezi:

or just search for Prezi in YouTube and you will find loads of tutorials like these two below:


Use Prezi for free and the presentations you create will be publicly visible and you will be able to create, collaborate and present on with 100MB cloud storage. There are also paid subscription versions which give you more options and more storage space.

The drawbacks to using Prezi come primarily from the user’s preconceptions. It can be really hard to move away from bullets and slides if that’s how you’re used to conveying information. It is also tough to release your creativity onto a blank canvas and envision the swirling, whirling beauty of your finished Prezi.

I have used both (though PowerPoint a lot more than Prezi) and I found the comparison below of PowerPoint vs Prezi (from to be very accurate:

Prezi strengths:

  • Free, but only if you’re happy for your presentations to be public. Private presentations require an upgraded account.
  • Prezi gives a feeling that the presentation is more fluid and more visual.
  • Web based (can access from any computer, tablet, etc.)
  • Prezi’s collaboration feature makes it easy to edit presentations with other users in real-time.
  • Non-Linear navigation and ‘map’ metaphor is preferred by some people.
  • Short learning curve.

Prezi weaknesses:

  • Prezi can make people dizzy. Can include a lot of useless motion (you can use grouping and frames to avoid motion sickness).
  • Limited printing options.
  • Web based (best if you have an internet connection).
  • The animation novelty can wear off. (If you saw 10 Prezi presentation in a row at a conference you might throw up).
  • There is a learning curve.

Powerpoint strengths:

  • More features and options (may not be a strength of you want simplicity!).
  • May be more reliable to carry your presentation on a USB stick.
  • You can have WOW impact with Powerpoint animations (and you’re not limited to just one).
  • Linear slide format and design is preferred by some.
  • More people are familiar with this format if you are working with other on your presentation (no learning curve).

Powerpoint weaknesses:

  • Animation not as smooth as Prezi.
  • Most people don’t use it well and so can seem visually boring.
  • Most people use 10% of the features so it’s by being all things to all people it’s harder to get a simple, visually stunning result.

But if your students’ eyes glaze over at the thought of another one of your PowerPoint presentations, why not try Prezi to create a more dynamic presentation.

Do you your law school professors use PowerPoint or Prezi to create presentations for their students?

Mentoring & Collaborating Using Skype

July 2, 2014

Law school classes are over and students can study together for the Bar exam or stay in touch with their bar mentor using Skype group video calls. Now that Skype group video calling is available to everyone, free of charge, it makes group conversations even easier! Group video calling enables many important shared experiences, like study check-ins and post final exam reviews.

Skype is known for one to one video calling and for the last few years, they have offered group video calling to Premium users on Windows desktop and Mac and more recently Xbox One.

Now  group video calling is free – for all users on these platforms. And, in the future, they will be enabling group video calling for all users across more platforms – at no cost.

Any one use Skype at law school?  How?




Flipping the Learning Paradigm with Adobe Presenter

June 27, 2014

Date: Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Time: 9:00 AM PT/ 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Dr. Allen Partridge

A growing trend in Higher Education suggests – move the content delivery out of the classroom and bring the students back in. What this essentially means is, a large number of Higher Ed institutions are embracing Flipped Learning, which lets you make use of the precious class time better to encourage collaborative learning.

In this session you will learn, how with Adobe Presenter, you can achieve Flipped Learning. Now turn your teaching content into HD videos from your desktop and publish to popular video sharing sites. Repurpose existing PowerPoint presentations with out-of-the-box assets, add eye-catching quizzes, and deliver these courses to your students’ desktops and tablets. Enable video analytics to identify learners who need extra help. Track advanced learner performance metrics when you upload these courses on leading learning management systems.

Register here for this complimentary session >>

At Albany Law School, many professors have been narrating their PowerPoint presentations using Adobe Presenter and then posting them as pdfs (with audio) in the course’s TWEN site.  These recorded presentations are assigned as homework. In class, the professors now have more time for discussion and assessments.

Lexis Advance has a new look

June 26, 2014


Combining advanced design technologies with valuable feedback from our customers, the Lexis Advance interface will be refreshed to offer more streamlined views that make it easier to navigate and return results faster. Updates to technology have also allowed us to replicate the new look and feel across mobile devices of all kind, providing a consistent overall experience.

  • View this 6-minute video highlighting key updates
  • Watch this 25-minute detailed webinar recording on the upcoming enhancements.

With a new, more intuitive interface you’ll research more efficiently, and unmatched depth and breadth of content will give you confidence that your research is current and comprehensive.




Using TWEN to Flip the Classroom

April 7, 2014

Flipping the Classroom is a popular topic and the subject of a recent webinar given by Westlaw.


Many of the tools available in a TWEN course site can be used to flip the classroom:

  • Class Materials for posting text, audio and video
  • Weekly Discussions using the Forum
  • Customized Polling to solicit student feedback
  • Assignment DropBox  for student assessment
  • Email Options – communicate with students individually or in a group
  • Quizzes – new functionality available starting in May (integrated into Gradebook & Assignments, can insert media, create sections, etc.)
  • Wiki – group projects (collaborative)
  • Cite Station – exercises available

How do your professors use TWEN to flip their course?

“Igniting Law Teaching” a TEDx-Styled Conference is being broadcast live today

April 4, 2014


So if you couldn’t attend, listen here:

This is the schedule of speakers:

8:15am: Welcome and Introduction

  • Billie Jo Kaufman, Assoc Dean for Library and Information Services
  • Michele Pistone, Villanova University School of Law, Visiting Professor American University Washington College of Law: “Why Law Schools Need to Change”

8:45am—Flipping the Law School Classroom

  • William Slomanson, Thomas Jefferson School of Law: “Why Flip? & Macro Design”
  • Jennifer Rosa, Michigan State Univ., College of Law: “Legal Writing on Steroids: The Art of Flipping Your Classroom”
  • Debora L. Threedy, University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law: “Flipping Contracts: The Making of the Videos”
  • Wes Reber Porter, Golden Gate University School of Law: “A Better Class to Class Process to Accompany Flipping”
  • David Thomson, University of Denver, Sturm College of Law: “Move 1L Online”

9:45am—Using the Classroom for Active Learning

  • Jamie R. Abrams, University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law: “The Socratic Method, Revisited”
  • Jeremiah Ho, University of Mass. School of Law (Dartmouth): “Not Your Father’s Case Method: Bringing Skills into Doctrinal Courses”
  • Victoria Duke, Indiana Tech Law School: “Bringing Exercises in Large Classes”
  • Enrique Guerra-Pujol, Barry University School of Law: “Using Film to Teach Torts”
  • Victoria Szymczak, University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law: “An LLM, an Oral Presentation, and a Video Camera”

11:15am—Applying Learning Theory to LegalEDucation

  • Leah Wortham, The Catholic Univ. of America, Columbus School of Law: “Graduating Them Whole Not Broken”
  • John P. Joergensen, Rutgers University School of Law (Newark): “Scaffolding”
  • Paul D. Callister, University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law: “The Metacognition Imperative: Beyond Research Training”
  • Warren Binford, Willamette University College of Law: “How to Be the World’s Best Law Professor”
  • Jeffrey B. Ritter, Georgetown University Law Center: “Mapping the Law: Building and Using Visual Mindmaps in Legal Education”

12:15pm—The Craft of Law Teaching

  • Sharon Keller, University of the District of Columbia—David A. Clarke School of Law: “Old Professor Tricks”
  • Kim Hawkins, New York Law School: “What Law Professors Need to Know About Visual Arts”
  • Jill A. Smith, Georgetown University Law Center: “Going Hollywood on your Desktop: Creating Great Screencasts”
  • Doni Gewirtzman, New York Law School: “Teaching and Theater: The Craft of Law Teaching”
  • Leah A. Plunkett, University of New Hampshire School of Law: “An Improviser’s Guide to Law Teaching”

1:15pm Luncheon: Leo Martinez, University of California, Hastings College of Law, President, Association of American Law Schools (AALS)

2:15pm—Simulations, Feedback, & Assessment

  • Shawn Marie Boyne, Indiana University, Robert H. McKinney School of Law: “Disaster in the Classroom: Using Simulations to Teach National Security Law”
  • Renee Nicole Allen, Florida A&M University College of Law: “Metacognition and the Value of Reflection in Learning”
  • Michele Gilman, University of Baltimore School of Law: “Why Use Clickers? To Provide Students Real Time Feedback”
  • Sydney Beckman, Lincoln Memorial University, Duncan School of Law: “Using Technology For Engagement and Assessment”
  • Margaret Hahn-Dupont, Northeastern University School of Law: “Learning Through Reflection and Self-Assessment”

3:15pm—Beyond Traditional Law Subjects

  • John M. Bickers, N. Kentucky University: Chase College of Law: “Using a Wok:  How Non-Bar Tested Electives Can Teach Lawyering”
  • Susan L. Brooks, Drexel University School of Law: “The ABCs of Communication for Teaching Relational Lawyering and Resilience”
  • Ryan Dooley & Allison Robbins, CUNY School of Law: “The Law School as a Classroom”
  • Vicenç Feliú, Villanova University School of Law: “Clinics and Librarians Collaborating”
  • Elizabeth Keyes, University of Baltimore School of Law: “Teaching Narrative”
  • James G. Milles, SUNY Buffalo Law School: “Returning the Client to Legal Education”
  • Emmeline Paulette Reeves, University of Richmond School of Law: “Teaching with the End (Bar Passage) in Mind”

5:00pm—Teaching for the 21st Century

  • Dan Jackson, Northeastern University School of Law: “Designing Lawyers: Leading an Experiential Law School Design Lab”
  • Jay Gary Finkelstein, DLA Piper: “Get Real!: Using Experiential Learning and Collaborative Teaching to Train ‘Practice Aware’ Lawyers”
  • Christine P. Bartholomew, SUNY Buffalo Law School: “Finding Time”
  • Jeanne Eicks, Vermont Law School: “Game On! Educational Games for Law Students”
  • Brett Johnson, Harvard Law School: “H2O: Remixing the Casebook”




WestLaw Webinars

March 28, 2014


Content providers are realizing that faculty are busy and need to learn on their own schedule.

That’s why webinars have become so popular.

Lexis has offered sessions on teaching transactional law.

Westlaw now will be offering 30 minute webinars on a variety of topics:

  • Alerts on WestlawNext – March 28, 2014 – 2 p.m. ET
  • Flipping your Classroom with TWEN – April 4, 2014 – Noon ET
  • Practical Law – April 11, 2014 – 2 p.m. ET
  • Custom Pages on WestlawNext – April 18, 2014 – 1 p.m. ET
  • Advanced TWEN – April 25, 2014- 1 p.m. ET

Unlike Lexis, there will be NO Starbucks gift card as an incentive, though!

Will your law school professors be registering for any of these webinars?


CALI Conference 2014

March 26, 2014


Registration has just opened for the Conference for Law School Computing® (CALI), three days of legal education and technology fun.

This year the conference will take place at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts from June 19-21, 2014.

To register for the conference, you will need to create a new username/ password on the conference website even if you have an existing username. There are three levels of conference registration:

The cost for attendees is $295 ($100 lower than last year).  Speakers will now pay a $95 registration fee.  As always, 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches and an evening reception are included with registration.

There will be approximately 50 sessions in 5 tracks covering a wide range of topics related to law school and technology.

In addition to the conference sessions, there will be two exciting and thought-provoking speakers for this year’s plenary sessions:

  • Jason Scott, “rogue archivist”, documentary filmmaker and organizer of the Archive Team.  Jason is currently working with the Internet Archive to preserve the history of early computing.  You can read more about him on his website
  • Dorothea Salo, an educator, author and frequent speaker on the topics of scholarly communication, data management and open technologies.  You can read more about her on her personal website.

If you are not able to attend, most of the sessions will be streamed live and then available on YouTube after the conference.

I have attended several CALI conferences  (2008, 2009, 2011) and have found them to be extremely worthwhile.  I have always learned a lot from the presentations and from networking with fellow IT law folks.

Have you attended a CALI conference?  Do you plan to go this year?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 57 other followers