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?





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?


Incorporating Online Technologies

March 7, 2014

ala class

This semester, a course offered to 3L students that will prepare them to be successful on the Bar Exam is being taught remotely one day a week using Adobe Connect.

What is Adobe Connect?

Adobe Connect is a desktop videoconferencing tool. With this tool, one can be at his/her desk and using a computer with an Internet connection and a browser and share documents, images, and audio and/or video.

It was primarily developed to allow one person to give a PowerPoint presentation to one or more participants (students) at the other end. Adobe Connect will let you upload your pptx file and will convert it to Flash. Everything in Adobe Connect is Flash-based since Flash is the video format most conducive to the Internet and is installed on almost all personal computers.

For interaction with participants (students), there is a Chat pod and a Notes pod for posting important information.


Each meeting or class is recorded and this flash video is posted in TWEN for students who missed the class or would like to review the material for a second time.

ala links

Using this technology, the students have the advantage of a live lecture from an expert on the topic being presented.  This expert can present from anywhere in the country.

ala prof

Each professor has a different area of expertise.

On the remote instruction day, the class is divided into two smaller sections. On the other day, the combined class receives face-to-face instruction.

At the beginning, students watched, listened to and took notes on the lecture than was delivered remotely.  There was little interaction but students were encouraged to email the professors with any questions or concerns.


After a few weeks, this changed. Students were now given the link so they could sign into the site. (Their names were listed in the Participant List and the presenter could then address the students by name.)

This made the students feel more a part of the class.  When the presenter asked questions, the students could respond in the chat pod. The students were more engaged and the presenter could direct his lecture toward the students’ answers and respond instantly to their questions.

This also enabled students to participate even if they were unable to attend class that day. They could log in from their home computer.

Remote instruction cannot replace those face-to-face live discussions that take place when the professor is physically in the classroom. However, in our case, students do meet one of the professors one day a week.  On the second day, instruction is synchronous where a professor lectures live through Adobe Connect to the whole class and the students participate through chat.

Any other law schools use remote instructors for their courses?

MOOCs in Law School

September 12, 2013

From the National Law Journal:

Massive open online coursesor MOOCsare all the rage in higher education. But law schools are only starting to test the waters with these free, Internet-based classes that can reach thousands of students around the globe.

Three law schools and universities will offer law-related MOOCs this fall for the first time, and Harvard Law School plans to again offer an online copyright course it debuted last year. Northwestern UniversityThe John Marshall Law School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are among those joining the MOOC movement, although participants won’t earn credits for the classes just yet.

Legal educators have good reason to begin experimenting with online teaching formats. The American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is contemplating increasing the number of credits that law students can take via distance education, in a bid to spur innovation and help lower costs.

Read more:

It is difficult for law schools in New York State to offer credit-bearing distance learning courses in light of the new NYS Bar Requirements (effective since April 1, 2012):

No credit shall be allowed for distance education courses offered principally by asynchronous means, where students and the instructor are separated in time as well as in place, including pre-recorded, non-interactive technologies, such as on-line courses, internet videos, videocassettes or discs.

The study must be offered in a primarily synchronous manner, such that students and the instructor simultaneously interact in a regularly scheduled class, albeit from separate locations, by means of on-line web-conferencing, video-conferencing, or other means, so as to provide students opportunities to interact with instructors and other students that are comparable to opportunities for such interaction in non-distance learning settings.

Through the one Distance Learning class (Government Ethics) that Albany Law School used to offer, we found that students preferred asynchronous learning because it fit better into their busy work or life schedule.  They could participate in discussion groups when they had enough time and not at a specific time of day or night.  Students could also work at their own pace.

However, free and/or noncredit law MOOCs are definitely a possibility. It will be interesting to hear about Northwestern UniversityThe John Marshall Law School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill experiences with their first MOOCs.

Higher Ed Faculty’s Attitudes on Technology

August 30, 2013

Inside Higher Ed recently published their results of a new Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology,  Gallup conducted this poll on 2,251 professors and 248 academic technology administrators, from all types of institutions.

Most of the survey questions dealt with faculty attitudes toward online learning.  On the whole, faculty attitudes toward online learning and especially MOOCs are pretty negative. Since at the present time, Albany Law School does not offer any online courses, the results on other technology-related topics (adaptive learning, lecture capture, LMS) are more relevant for us.

Only 1/3 of the professors surveyed report that they have used adaptive learning (adapting the presentation of educational material according to students’ learning needs). But 61% of them agree or strongly agree that adaptive learning has “great potential to make a positive impact on higher education.” (84% of the academic technology administrators believed this.)

Only 19% reported using lecture capture (recording lectures & embedding them). But 50% said that they believed lecture capture has great potential for a positive impact on higher education, (2/3 of the academic technology administrators believed this.)

Learning management systems (LMS) are used on almost every campus but survey results showed that many professors only use their LMS for basic tasks and may not be using all features available (see chart below.)

Frequency With Which Faculty Use LMS Features

Feature Always Usually Sometimes Never
Share syllabus with students 76% 10% 8% 7%
Track student attendance 24% 10% 16% 50%
Record grades 53% 13% 12% 22%
Provide e-textbooks and related materials 36% 22% 22% 19%
Integrate lecture capture 11% 7% 13% 69%
Communicate with students 53% 21% 16% 9%
Identify students who may need extra help 24% 15% 27% 34%

Read more:

Law School faculty have incorporated adaptive learning through the following technology tools:

  • CALI interactive lessons
  • TWEN online quizzes
  • Clickers/Student Response systems
  • Interactive Computer Simulations such as The Objection series
  • Core Grammar For Lawyers (this year with 1Ls)

Lecture capture has been much easier with the newer technologies.  Even if you are not fortunate enough to have built-in systems (Tegrity, Panopto, MediaSite, Echo360) installed in the classroom, there are ways to record your classes and make the files available for students:

  • recording audio using a digital recorder and posting in the LMS
  • adding narration to PowerPoint presentations (using Adobe Presenter) and posting a pdf
  • recording through Adobe Connect and sharing video link
  • recording video using a webcam and posting in the LMS
  • using various free screen capture programs (such as,, Screen o’

Almost all our professors use a LMS (in our case, TWEN) to share content and communicate with students. 78 out of 96 courses already have sites set up (many of those without sites are taught by adjuncts.)  Consistent with the above survey results, many of the professors only use their site to post the syllabus and course materials. However, each year, more of the faculty are taking advantage of the other features available to them in TWEN:

  • Assignment Submissions
  • Assignment Submissions (with anonymous grading)
  • Email options
  • Discussion forums
  • Sign-up Sheets
  • Polling
  • Online Quizzes
  • Gradebook
  • Wiki
  • Posting audio and video (to flip the classroom)

twen1    twen2twen3

Can “Flip Teaching” Happen in Law School?

April 22, 2013

Flip teaching is a format of education which reverses the roles of homework and classroom teaching.

The traditional pattern of education has been to have classroom lectures, in which the teacher explains a topic, followed by homework, in which the student does exercises.

In flip teaching, the student first studies the topic by him or herself, typically using video lessons. In the classroom, the student then tries to apply the knowledge by solving problems and doing practical work. The role of the teacher is then to tutor the student when they become stuck, rather than to impart the initial lesson.

Flip teaching supports the following:

  • Formative assessment rather than summative assessment
  • Innovative & engaging classroom activities
  • Experiential & authentic learning
  • Use of technology by teachers to increase student engagement and motivation.
  • Focus on student-centric learning with the teacher only providing directions as to how to complete the experiential activities.
  • Students interacting with each other and the content much more than the teacher.


Though not labelled initially as “flip teaching,” this is really what Prof. Garver does at Central Michigan University and what was discussed in a previous post in this blog. Garver, who uses lecture capture software to record his lectures and then assigns them to students to listen to outside of class,“… gave up lecturing in the classroom (because) he was tired of having to choose between introducing ideas and letting students try putting them into practice. There was never enough time for both.”



iTunesU is used by many law schools to host videos and podcasts of lectures . (UChicago, Yale Law, NYLS, Suffolk U law, CUNY School of Law, Harvard Law to name a few.)  These videos/podcasts are available to students to watch/listen to outside the classroom.

If you search on YouTube, you will find that Aaron Dewald, Associate Director of the Center for Innovation in Legal Education at the University of Utah College of Law, has posted 11 videos on Cyberlaw, 23 videos on Evidence and 37 videos on Contracts (see example above.). These are also accessible to students as a supplement to their law school curriculum.



The goal of Michele Pistone’s LegalEd website is to offer video lectures that can be assigned by law professors so that they can use class time for interactive activities and formative assessments.

In this blog post, Craig Forcese, Vice Dean & Associate Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, recaps the “Flipping the Classroom” experiment that he conducted in his Administrative Law class this past semester. I highly recommend reading all his previous posts:

Prof. Forcese concludes the following:

So will I do it again?  Yes.  Will I expand to other courses?  Yes.  Indeed, some of my lessons from this large format class will now be deployed in my seminars — a venue which has always been active learning based. 

Do I recommend it?  In a heartbeat.  Will it be everyone’s cup of tea?  No. Should it exist in every course?  No.  Part of what might make it effective is novelty.  But more than that, there should always be a few courses law students can actually shuffle through.  Active learning is more work for students (although many of them will find that it true because they are revising well-worn time management skills developed in a passive setting).

Is it a panacea to all that ails legal education?  Of course not.  It is a brick in a larger edifice of reform.  Do I think that brick should be mortared into the fabric of my law school?  Absolutely.  Personally, I believe that the law school that gets this one right — the mix of active and passive — will be a place to contend with.


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. This is another example of “Flipped Teaching.”

chung makeup

As you see from this post, there are lots of innovative ways to flip your class.  But as Eric Mazur states: “It’s not about the technology, it’s about the pedagogy.”

Could “flip teaching” be successful in law school? The answer is “You’ll never know until you try.”

CALI LessonLink & Final Exams

April 18, 2013


CALI lessons are often automatically added to your TWEN course site.

These can be used by law students as they prepare for final exams.

However, if you want to track student lesson usage, LessonLink is the feature of CALI that allows you to do this.

Here are the instructions for creating and using a LessonLink:

  1. Login to with your CALI faculty account (you will need your school authorization code if you haven’t set up your account yet).
  2. Click on ‘CALI LessonLink’ in the right menu.
  3. Click the ‘Create a LessonLink’ link (also found here)
  4. Fill in your course name, semester, and then choose the CALI topic under which you will find the lesson(s) you wish to assign. Check the ones you want to assign.


  1. Click create LessonLinks.
  2. Use copy and paste to send the entire LessonLink URL(s) to students. You can send it to them by email or place it in your TWEN site.
  3. Check who has run this lesson and scoring details by clicking the same ‘CALI LessonLink’ link, then Current LessonLinks. (Past semesters’ LessonLink details are found under the LessonLink Archives tab.)

LessonLinks are organized into groups called courses. After creating a course with one or more links, you can add more LessonLinks to the course by following the directions in your Current LessonLinks administration page.

Students must run the lesson by clicking the unique URL you gave to them. They cannot simply browse to the CALI website and find the lesson in the CALI Library of Lessons. Please make this clear to your students to avoid confusion.

Students will also need the student authorization code if they have not yet creatd a CALI account.

Here are the instructions in a video: