I often run across interesting ways that faculty can and do use technology in their courses – law faculty and others – and I decided to collect them all in one place for the benefit of law faculty seeking interesting ideas. Some ideas are more substantive than others, and they all require some small effort to implement, but I hope you find something useful in the list.
If you have ideas that should be added to this list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will periodically update and republish this article from time to time.
Of course, as Executive DIrector of CALI, some of the ideas listed use CALI created resources which are free to CALI member law schools. If your law school is not a CALI member, I would be delighted to come to your school, at my expense, buy your faculty lunch and deliver a thought-provoking, fun, informative presentation on CALI and its benefits.
- Run a CALI lesson (www.cali.org/lessons) on the projector in the classroom and have the students vote on the answers before revealing the correct answer. Even better, have the student pick their answers using Instapoll (www.cali.org/instapoll) so that you can see how many people got it right or wrong.
- Give the students a 5 minute challenge playing Time Trial (www.cali.org/timetrial) where they have to put dates of famous cases, Supreme Court Justices and Acts of Law into the correct chronological order. The student with the highest score after 5 minutes wins a prize.
- Pick a case from this list (Supreme Court Cases that don’t have a Wikipedia article) on Wikipedia and the have the students draft an article on it for Wikipedia.
Here is the URL:
Look for the RED links – these are the cases without an article. Alternatively, have your students read and edit and improve an existing article about a Supreme Court case adding links to other Wikipedia articles or additional references.
- After reading a recent Supreme Court Case, have the students listen to the oral arguments on Oyez (www.oyez.org) and discuss the merits of the speakers.
- Go to Court Listener’s Mapper and have the student create a citation network that links two Supreme Court cases.
“Over time, as the Court elaborates on legal doctrine, earlier cases become connected to later cases by chains of citation. Lawyers often refer to such chains of related cases as lines of cases. This tool allows users to analyze and study lines of cases by creating citation networks.”
Have them prepare to explain the linkage and significance of the precedence.
- Have the students compare the chapters or sections of their casebook with the same chapters or sections in the free ebook casebooks at elangdell.cali.org. Which author explained the concept better? What makes a good legal explanation? CALI has free casebooks that are free under a Creative Commons license in …
- Create your own class blog at Classcaster (www.classcaster.net). Post sample exam questions with model answers and have the students comment using the comment features of the blog system.
- Download CALI Author from http://www.cali.org/content/cali-author and write your own short CALI lesson and using AutoPublish to post it for your students.Learning CALI Author is more of a time investment than some of these other ideas.There are tutorials on Youtubehere.
- Have your students watch the video on Social Media in Law Practice by Ernie the Attorney and discuss the different ways that lawyers can get into trouble using social media.
- At the beginning of the semester, designate 3 students to be the class note-takers using Google Docs. Everyone else has to close their laptops. At the end, have the students share their notes with everyone else in the course (you will need to have a list of emails for everyone in the class handy). Do this every day with 3 different students. Decide with the class if this system will work instead of everyone taking notes all the time.
- At the end of class, have everyone create 3 tweets on Twitter with a hashtag for the class (e,g, #MayerEvidenceYale that describes what was essentially covered during the class. Use Storify to create a permanent web page of all the tweets.Forcing your students to condense their thoughts into 140 characters is an interesting exercise in brevity and consolidation. The results might give you insight into what the students are absorbing from your lectures.
- Have students create a Vine (6 seconds of video) that summarizes a legal concept covered in your course. Most points go for something that takes into account Vine’s continual looping. Vine is like video-twitter for thought condensation.
- Have your students download Anki and create 10 flashcards each for the subject matter of your course. Have them share the results with each other. Anki is free and uses spaced repetition to efficiently learn and memorize facts.
[FLASH CARDS][SPACED REPETITION]
- Use Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom, Periscope or any other desktop video conferencing software to invite outside experts to give short talks to your classes.
[VIDEO][OUTSIDE EXPERTS][GUEST LECTURERS]
- Pick a law-related podcast from Lawdibles or the LegalTalkNetwork and play one in class for discussion. The LegalTalkNetwork has podcasts in all kinds of categories like …
Best Legal Practices
- Give your students the assignment to use Coggle to create mind maps of a legal process or area of law.
“Whether you’re note-taking, brainstorming, planning, or doing something awesomely creative, Coggle makes it super-simple for you to visualise your ideas.”
Have the students present the results in class and discuss/defend their creations.
- Have your students create a question and answer interview for a client in a simple legal matter using QNAMarkup. Require each student to write an interview and review another student’s interview. This could be a simple exercise or something more complex where students have to reserach and area of law to understand what questions need to be asked and what the nest order is to ask them.
- Use a class session or have your student watch a conference presentation from hundreds of CALI Conference sessions on Youtube There are dozens of sessions on law practice, technology in legal education, etc.
[VIDEO][CALI CONFERENCE][LEGAL TECH]
- Use the “Search All Law School Websites” service created by CALI to find out what other/all law schools have videos of guest lectures given at different law schools. Type “guest lecture” into the search box for a good list.
- Have your student pretend they are getting a divorce, name change or other legal matter and use New York Courts DIY Forms to fill out the proper form. Let them see how it looks from the viewpoint of a self represented litigant. Get the final document and have the student critique the process and output and final result.
[LEGAL PROCESS][DOCUMENT AUTOMATION]
- CALI’s Instapoll is like a clicker, but uses only software. Students use their smartphones or laptops to respond to multiple choice questions you give them in class.
Using Instapoll at www.cali.org/instapoll, ask questions of the class where the students choose and answer 1 – 6 or A – F and project the results on the screen to test whether students are understanding the material being covered. Elicit discussion from the students who got it wrong.
- Rather than covering material in class, assign CALI lessons for students to take using LessonLink so that you can see the student scores. Use class time to discuss the material rather than lecture on it.
- Have your students paste some of their recent writing into https://readability-score.com/ to see what grade level their writing is at. Then have them visit WriteClearly.org, a website that helps lawyers reduce legalese in their writing. Have them practice changing the language to get a lower score to make their writing more readable for non-lawyers.
- Have your students view the Practice Management Comparison chart from the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center and discuss the features needed for the area of practice they are interested in.
- Have your students look at what are considered some of the best law firm websites here and here. Discuss what they would be looking for if they were hiring a lawyer. What are they going to put on their law firm website.
- Have your students annotate your casebook (or any case or statute that you choose) at Law Genius – a free, open resource for lawyers and law students.
[CASE READING][CLASS NOTES]
- Teach a recent case, like the Zimmerman Trial, from Professor Doug Linder’s Famous Trials website.
- “Pinterest is a social network that allows users to visually share, and discover new interests by posting (known as ‘pinning’ on Pinterest) images or videos to their own or others’ boards (i.e. a collection of ‘pins,’ usually with a common theme)”
Have each student pick a case that you are studying in the course and use Pinterest to find 10 images, articles or videos that relate to that case or the subject or issues in that case. Have the students share these with the entire class. The goal is to develop student’s visual communication skills.
- Create quizzes for your students at Quizlet. Have students add their own questions to your course quiz.
- FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions. Have your students create their own FAQ for the course at the midpoint and before the final. FAQs are used for areas that are most likely to cause confusion or the questions that come from people new to a subject area.
- Pecha Kucha is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). It’s also sometimes called an Ignite Presentation.. Have your students create a Pecha Kucha for a single topic in the course and present to the class.
- PechaFlickr is a fun way to learn how to think on your feet. Using PechaFlickr and a keyword from your course “LAW, TORTS, CRIME, CONSTITUTION, etc.) have your students practice presentation skills, quick thinking and having fun with random images taken from Flickr.
- Search for “Drone Fails” on Youtube and have your students list all the laws that are likely broken in each video.
[VIDEO][CUTTING EDGE LAW]
- Check out the Constitute.org website where constitutions from around the world are compared. Give each student a different country to compare with the US Constitution.
[CON LAW][COMPARATIVE LAW]
- Have your students find and read all the Terms of Service for all of the software on their own laptops including iTunes, MacOS, Windows, Adobe Acrobat (PDF viewer), etc. Discuss the implications of entering into contracts without reading the terms. Copy and paste the terms into a readability website (mentioned above).
- Assign a White Paper from the eff.org to two different students. Have one argue for and the other argue against the premise of the paper.
[CUTTING EDGE LAW]
- Assign to teams of 2-3 students to make animations using PowToons that explain an area of law to other students or to potential clients.