Flipping Civ Pro

October 13, 2014

Flipping the Classroom is a popular topic. In fact, in the most recent Horizon Report, the flipped classroom was named one of the most important emerging trends in educational technology for higher education …”because of how it rearranges face-to-face instruction for professors and students, creating a more efficient and enriching use of class time.”

The flipped class in law school has been the subject of several posts on this blog:

This semester, one of the professors at Albany Law School has decided to “flip” his Federal Civil Procedure class.

Each week he uses the software VideoScribe to create a video.

The video file is uploaded to TWEN for the students to watch outside of the classroom.

twen videos

Students have to certify that they have watched the video in its entirety.


The professor also has the ability to check to see who has and who has not watched each video.

clicking + gives the names of the students who have watched

A detailed view can be seen monthly for each student showing how they watched the video (time, pausing, etc.):



During class time, the professor can spend time elaborating on what was covered in the video, answering questions about the content and engaging the students rather than using the traditional “Socratic method.”

I asked the professor about how things were going so far:

I think it’s much more productive (giving the students the material ahead of time) and I can use the time to do more examples, rather than lecture.

Then the important question…”Are the videos enhancing student learning?”

 I’m going to do an analysis.  I think they are helpful, but my analysis is going to try to determine whether there is any connection between watching the videos and how students fared on the mid-term.  Stay tuned.

As the professor says…STAY TUNED.

Are there any law school professors experimenting with “flipping the classroom?” If so, how is it working out? Are students learning better?

Here are some recommended articles for those considering “flipping” the Law School classroom:

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 prezi.com 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 http://www.bubblews.com/news/1121789-prezi-versus-powerpoint) 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.





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