January 29, 2015
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.
Want to learn more? Take a video tour of the site, read about our tools for sharing and discovery, or learn about searching on Casetext.
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?
December 13, 2014
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:
For more information on this topic, contact Professor Ho at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video of the webinar:
December 12, 2014
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?
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.
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: