Katrina June Lee , Susan Azyndar , and Ingrid Mattson have published A New Era: Integrating Today’s ‘Next Gen’ Research Tools Ravel and Casetext in the Law School Classroom, forthcoming in Rutgers University Computer & Technology Law Journal .
Here’s the abstract:
The legal research landscape is changing…again. In recent years, law school professors introduced Google, WestlawNext, and LexisAdvance into their classrooms. Now, a new generation of legal research tools that include the innovative Ravel and Casetext will have law school professors grappling with the questions: Should law professors teach these next gen research tools as part of the skills curriculum? If so, how? In this article, the authors respond with a resounding “Yes” and propose a set of teaching ideas for doing so without sacrificing precious class time. They conclude that Ravel and Casetext pose an intriguing and exciting possibility for achieving the pedagogical goals of legal skills classrooms. In Spring 2014, the authors implemented a teaching and assessment classroom pilot module in the legal writing classroom using Ravel and Casetext, and this article builds from the lessons of that pilot. The authors contend that integrating these legal research innovations in the law school classroom advances significant pedagogical goals: teaching law students information literacy (e.g., research strategy, context, and source evaluation); teaching metacognitive skills; preparing students for law practice; and exploring professionalism and ethics issues. This article provides an overview of the pedagogical goals of teaching legal research skills, describes the newest “next gen” tools Ravel and Casetext, and discusses how teaching these tools furthers the pedagogical goals. Finally, the article describes in detail the pilot module used in one of the authors’ first-year legal writing classroom and suggests many possibilities for the integration of the newest “next gen” research tools in the legal skills classroom.
What is Casetext?
From their website – https://casetext.com:
By leveraging contributions from an active community of law professors and attorneys, Casetext is able to provide the public with free access to legal research, linked to an online legal community designed to connect you with colleagues in your field.
What is Ravel?
From their website – https://www.ravellaw.com:
Ravel Law is a new legal search, analytics, and visualization platform. Ravel enables lawyers to find, contextualize, and interpret information that turns legal data into legal insights. Ravel’s array of powerful tools – which include data-driven, interactive visualizations and analytics – transforms how lawyers understand the law and prepare for litigation. In today’s global and increasingly digital world, Ravel empowers attorneys to benefit from this huge influx of information and find value in it.
In 2012, Ravel spun out of Stanford University’s Law School, Computer Science Department, and d.school, with the support of CodeX (Stanford’s Center for Legal Informatics).
We’re based in San Francisco, California.
Are any law schools out there teaching these or other new legal research tools?
Jeremiah Ho of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Law (above) led a webinar entitled “Flipping of the Law Classroom: Infusing Active Learning Through Technology.”
Here are some of his key points:
- Flipped learning is not as popular in law school as in the undergrad classroom.
- It is predominately done through short video lectures
Challenges for law schools:
- competes with Socratic nature of law courses differently
- possible loss of investigative or pressing discussion
- could be difficult to do for complex doctrine
- relegates doctrinal instruction into a more static mode
The Problem Method (active learning) is more compatible with law school.
Bar prep course & legal writing courses work well with the flipped method
Why merge Active Learning with the Flipped Classroom?
- transfers issue-spotting from page to screen
- appeals to visual & auditory learning styles
- sensory experience of fact-play
- adds variety to tradition law instructional media
- comports with problem method
- Create a slide presentation that is colorful and with visual examples.
- Have students perform skits or create their own problems/hypos.
Variations of this theme:
- single-issue simulations
- as part of performance exams
- transactional law hypos
- combined with traditional flipped instruction
The following resources may be helpful:
- blog post about making educational videos –http://legaledweb.com/blog/
- blog post about using powerpoint on the Rapid e-learning blog – http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/powerpoint-for-e-learning
- Go Animate. You have the ability to enter a script, and then the site takes care of the animation for you. Might be useful to display an exchange between characters. http://goanimate.com
- Livescribe – but can be difficult to use.
- Legaledweb web site has videos that can be used.
- So does YouTube
For more information on this topic, contact Professor Ho at email@example.com.
Video of the webinar:
Though law school classes are rarely cancelled, what can a professor do to “make up the class” if a class is cancelled.
Rescheduling is usually not an option due room schedules and student schedules.
Ignoring it is not an option because the course content needs to be covered.
One software that professors can use is Adobe Presenter. With this software, they can re-purpose their PowerPoint presentation for that class by adding narration. The presentation can then be uploaded as a PDF to the course’s LMS. Students with Adobe Reader can view and listen to the content.
Although professors may spend a lot time narrating their presentation, students may not spend the time to listen to it.
It would defeat the purpose to just review the content in class.
Instead, professors can create an online quiz where students are required to listen the PowerPoint presentation in order to answer the quiz questions correctly.
One of the professors at Albany Law School did just that. She narrated a PowerPoint presentation for her NY Practice class, posted it to TWEN and then asked students to take a 5 question quiz.
This professor can see by the graph above that most of the students answered the questions correctly. In other words, they listened to the presentation.
Anyone else have suggestions for making up cancelled classes?
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:
- Flipping the learning paradigm with Adobe Presenter
- Using Twen to flip the classroom
- Flipped learning
- Twen multimedia options help professors flip the classroom
- Can flip teaching happen in law school
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.
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.
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:
- FLIPPED: Prof Models New Way of Teaching
- Seven Tips for a Successful Flip
- Instruction Spotlight: Flipping the Classroom
- Flipped Classrooms Benefits – An Overview
- The flipped Classroom
- Flipping the Legal Research Classroom
- Optimizing the Law School Classroom Through the ‘Flipped’ Classroom Model
- Flipping the Law School Classroom – conference handout
- Flipping the Law Classroom to Ease Student Anxiety
- The Upside-Down Classroom: How the flipped lecture model can be used in legal education
- Innovative and Interactive Teaching and Learning
- Flipping Socrates
- Understanding the Flipped Classroom: Part 1
- Flipped classrooms – Are they working?