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?
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 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?
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?
Coming on May 1, 2014, there will be improvements to the quizzing function in TWEN.
- Totally integrated into Grade Book & Assignments (add a quiz option)
- Ability to insert media
- Ability to create sections
- More control over type and timing of feedback that professors provide to students
- Incorrect answer mode
- At a glance, professors will be able to see what concepts students are struggling with and who is having the most trouble
- Dig deeper and see the details of each student’s performance.
- Compare answers from student to student.
More improvements are planned for Summer 2014:
- New tool allows automatic enrolling of students into courses
- Registrar sends file to designated contact
- File in .csv format lists course name, first name, last name, email address an student ID
- Process matches uploaded
- File data to registration information and adds students to course
Westlaw TWEN is continuously looking at changes and are mapping their improvements to the new law school environment as recommended by the ABA:
If you use TWEN at your law school, will these changes be helpful to you?
Reposted from the Law School Academic Support Blog (with some additions):
- Consider putting your outlines on your Kindle (or iPad) for ease in carrying them with you – especially if you are leaving for the Thanksgiving Break.
- For first-year courses, you might want to consider purchasing the maps at picjur.com: Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure, and Criminal Law are all available in visual versions.
- If you rather listen to text rather than read it, you might want to consider two options:
- Dictation and Speech for Macs reads text that can be converted with iTunes for your iPhone;
- Outlines Outloud is an app that syncs your computer outlines with your iPhone for listening.
- Check out the website for the Board of Law Examiners in your state to see if they post old exam questions for your state-specific courses; practice questions are sometimes hard to find for state-specific topics, and old bar questions can be a plus. Here is the link for New York: http://www.nybarexam.org/ExamQuestions/ExamQuestions.htm
- Remember to check your own law school’s exam database for past exams in a course; even if they are for a different professor, the exams may provide good practice questions. (Albany Law School has one on TWEN.)
- Use a table to help you easily see the variations of the same rule (common law, restatement, uniform code, majority jurisdiction, minority jurisdiction, etc.) that you have to learn for an exam.
- Check out CALI for review lessons. They have over 900 legal education tutorials.
Any other study tips (especially ones that use technology) that you can recommend?