Live Blogging from the CELT Workshop

April 17, 2013

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On April 17, 2013, Michele Pistone, Professor of Law and Director, Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES) at Villanova University School of Law, spoke to the Albany Law School faculty on the topic of How Emerging Innovations Will Disrupt Legal Education.”

Her engaging presentation began with a clip from 1994 of Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric from the Today Show debating the pronunciation of a mysterious keyboard symbol, the”@” symbol.  From there and Bob Dylan (“The Times They Are A Changin”), she reminisced about buying books and records at neighborhood stores, seeing movies in the theaters, and when TV shows only played once a week, and if you missed them, you had to hope they’d be rerun during the summer.

Yes, this has all changed.  Books and newspapers are now digital.  TV shows and movies can be watched at anytime and on computers and phones. These changes are result of innovations which have created a new world.

However, this is the only world that our students know!! They were born digital.

As a result, our students are visual, connected, relate to one another through technology, have an abundance of information that is available at any time from any place.  They are used to convenience, speed, multi-tasking, immediate feedback and working together on projects, collaborating, sharing, and creating.

So the important question that Prof. Pistone raised was:  In light of these changes, have law schools changed enough?

And her answer was: “Law schools have not changed much in the last 100 years.”

K-16 education has been changing.  We have the addition of  MOOCS (massive open online courses); Khan Academy which offers videos and quizzes that can being used alone or to flip the classroom.  TED ED which makes videos for use in high school – students watch videos online for homework and then can come into class ready to do active problem based learning (thus “flipping the classroom”).

Prof. Pistone recommended reading the book Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clay Christensen.  In it, he introduces the key concepts of sustaining technologies (those that improve the performance of established products) and disruptive technologies. Although “disruptive technologies” result in worse product performance in the short term, they are typically cheaper, simpler, smaller, and, frequently, more convenient to use (Skype being an example.) So we need to adapt to them.

A study conducted by the Department of Education found that blended learning (a combination of online and face-to-face instruction) obtained better results for students and than either face-to-face or completely online learning.  This is something to keep in mind.

So what is next for law schools?

Prof. Pistone recommends focusing on:

  • What we teach – in light of our changing, globalizing, interdisciplinary world
  • How we teach — to cover a wide range of competencies and reach different learning styles
  • How we assess what students are learning – supplementing the final summative exam with formative assessment
  • How we signal to others a student’s competencies

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Lastly, Prof. Pistone introduced her new project called LegalED.  LegalED is a web-based platform that will host teaching materials for legal education.  The materials will include:

  • short videos made for internet viewing
  • problems and exercises
  • assessment tools

This online platform of teaching materials (esp. the short videos) can be used to supplement law school and to “flip” the classroom.

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Prof. Pistone’s presentation concluded with a lively discussion by faculty on law school competencies that cannot be taught online (such as empathy), mapping competencies to the teaching process, mastery/adaptive learning, bar exam…


If interested, here is the video recording of Michele Pistone’s Tedx presentation, which focuses on the future of higher education:


Law Professor Teaches At Home

March 21, 2008

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In a recent post on the Teknoids Listserv, a professor from the Touro Law Center shared his experience of teaching 2 of his classes from home :

“In short:  It worked. More specifically, it worked adequately, particularly given how little advance planning had gone into this impromptu experiment.  We used two pieces of software: the free audio/video chat program Skype (http://www.skype.com),and/ a free Skype add-in called YugmaSE (http://www.yugma.com/) which allowed me to share my computer screen and/or a window (in this case, a PowerPoint presentation) with the students via Skype. ”

This experiment proves how valuable technology is.  Instead of canceling class due to a family illness, this professor was able to conduct class.

There are many software solutions that could be substituted for Skype/Yugma such as Elluminate, Webex and Adobe Connect (none of which are free).

This situation could be reversed when the student is in their home (unable to come to class) and thanks to technology, be able to attend a class.


MediaNotes Webcast

March 3, 2008

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CALI has made Blue Mango’s MediaNotes software – (http://www.medianotes-app.com ) available to law schools. The full-featured version is free to faculty, librarians, staff, and $20 for students.  To download the software, go to: http://www.cali.org/tools/medianotes (You must use your CALI web credentials to login).

MediaNotes is a video/audio tagging application which allows you to easily analyze and annotate video/audio performances. CALI is also be providing webspace for students and faculty to share these videos.

What I learned today…

 Lawyering skills  can be compared to sports skills – if you see yourself, you can correct yourself.  MediaNotes adds reinforcement and provides feedback to would-be lawyers.

For  each event (video segment)- you have the option for text comments as well as adding tags

The best way to use it is to have the students make the first cut and do the annotations and then have the professor read the student annotations and add his/her own.

There is a tag palette where the tags are stored.  You have to create your own tags that are connected to the content of your course.  You can download the tags created by Larry Farmer  from the CALi website.

Recommended uses: interviewing skills, negotiating skills, trial practice/court skills

It works with any video file except flash – .mov and .wmv most common because students can play the video back

It also works with just audio – the file size would be much smaller – sometimes video is not necessary

The software can be downloaded by any faculty member and installed on one lab computer for FREE.  Students can download the software at a cost of $20/student.  Many law schools are absorbing the student cost.

File size – needs to be small in order to be able to upload and download (esp students with bandwidth issues)

In order to reduce file size, you reduce the quality of the video – the audio is always more important.

Ex.  25 minute mov web cam recorded file = 50 mbs

Minimum Technology requirements:

  • Inexpensive webcam ($50) – they all come with recording software
  • Headset (with microphone)   ($15)
  • Flash drive to move from the computer hard drive  ($30)
  • MediaNotes software
  • Existing laptop or desktop

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