Six Strategies for Successful Online Learning

By: Professor Susan Landrum (NOVA Southeastern University )

Many law schools have made an abrupt shift from face-to-face to online instruction in the past week in response to the coronavirus outbreak, and more will be joining them in the upcoming days. These changes can be stressful for law students, and it is hard to stay focused on your studies in times of uncertainty. Today, I want to focus on six key strategies you can use for successful online learning. Implementing these strategies will help you get the most out of your studies, stay focused and motivated, and make sure that you continue to make progress on your academic and professional goals. And there is an added bonus – taking charge of your academic plan can also help reduce your stress in an uncertain time. Continue reading “Six Strategies for Successful Online Learning”

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A Free Zoom Tutorial from a Long-Time User

By: Professor Tracy Norton (Touro) (compilation prepared with my permission by Professor Abigail Perdue)

As promised, I’ve recorded several videos to help out with teaching online generally and using Zoom specifically. Here is a link to a collection of emergency online teaching resources. I’ve also included several videos below. The first two videos are quick how-tos on equipment that could be helpful and features that help you and your space look camera ready.

The last two are different recordings of a single conversation between me, Ann Nowak (Touro Law Writing Center Director) and Lynne Kramer (Touro Law Professor, Trial Ad and Negotiations) in which we talk about some practical tips that aren’t covered in most how-to videos. We also talk about using different features for different types of classroom activities. Ann talks about her very interactive online Law Practice Management course as well as individual meetings for the Writing Center. Lynne talks about trial ad and negotiation exercises. I talk about writing courses and feedback conferences. The first of these videos is what Zoom recorded and is, mostly, what participants would have seen. The second of these videos is a screencast so you can see what I was seeing as I moderated the conversation and how I accessed the different features. At one point, I accidentally leave the Zoom room, so the Zoom video records what Lynne was saying while the screencast does not, because I wasn’t there. I hope these are helpful.

On March 11, I hosted a live  conversation with anyone who wanted to ask questions or — even better — offer answers about Zoom. The recording of that session is available here.

After my session, I dug deeper into a few good questions from the audience. Here is what I learned:

Q: If I choose Speaker View for a meeting, can I lock the camera on a single speaker?
A: Yes, you can! To spotlight your video when you speak, go to the Settings (either in the app or through the web site, zoom.us). Choose Video and then choose Spotlight my video when I speak. To spotlight someone else, Zoom has instructions explaining how to do that, which can be found here.
Q: With a single monitor, can I see the full speaker view/gallery view PLUS the screen share?
A: Yes, you can! Go to the Settings menu, and choose General. Under Content Sharing, choose Side-by-Side Mode. More information on this feature can be found here.
Q: At your session this week, only about 20 people could be on the screen at one time. I have more students than that in my course. Is there any way to get them all on the screen?
A: Yes, there is! Make sure that you are in full-screen mode and that your window is large enough to display the thumbnails. Zoom supports up to 49 thumbnails on a single screen. More information can be found here.
Q: How do I pre-assign a team or group of students to breakout rooms?
A: I put together a quick 5-minute video [click the blue text] showing where to find the settings for this. There’s also a video about breakout rooms generally along with some written instructions on Zoom.
Q: Do you have any specific tips for using Zoom to host oral arguments? 

A: My colleague, Ann Nowak, also hosted a separate session regarding how to use Zoom for oral arguments.

Q: What if I teach at a school that doesn’t have Zoom? 

A: My colleague, Professor Deborah Borman, has suggested the following Zoom alternatives:

Bluejeans
Cisco WebX Meetings
Google Hangout

Last but not least, below are several videos I have created to further assist you. Zoom’s website also has free training videos.

Video 1: Equipment Setup (6 min, 14 sec)

Video 2: Zoom Feature for Sprucing Up Your Appearance and Your Space (3 min, 43 sec)

Video 3: Zoom Recording of a Conversation Sharing Practical Tips (1 hour, 2 minutes)

Video 4: Screencast Recording of a Conversation Sharing Practical Tips (same conversation as Video 3, just from the moderator’s perspective) ) (58 minutes, 23 sec))
Recorded Using Camtasia

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Creating a COVID-19 Contingency Plan for Potential Course Interruption

By: Abigail Perdue[1]

As communities across the country brace for the potential impact of COVID-19, law professors must contemplate how to handle COVID-19-related course interruption. This kind of pandemic planning is particularly pressing for professors in small, experiential courses because they are likelier to involve collaborative group work and lengthy one-on-one conferences between professors and students. Given our current understanding of how COVID-19 likely spreads, such activities may pose a greater risk of COVID transmission unless certain precautions are taken.

Although our understanding of COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, the latest information appears to indicate that the virus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. An infected person’s cough or sneeze expels droplets carrying COVID-19, which may land on another person’s nose or mouth or on a nearby inanimate object like a computer mouse or door handle.[2] Unless and until those objects are properly disinfected, COVID-19 can survive on them for an unknown length of time. And that is exactly how long those objects will be a potential source of contagion unless disinfected. Anyone who touches the object and then touches their nose or face risks becoming infected.

In light of these concerns, law professors may wish to contemplate small measures they can take to keep their law school communities healthy and to limit potential course interruption caused by COVID-19. Below is a non-exhaustive list of ideas: Continue reading “Creating a COVID-19 Contingency Plan for Potential Course Interruption”

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Introducing a Great Resource for Business Law Courses and Clinics

By: Professor Abigail Perdue

Professor Katrina Lee (Ohio State) has just published an excellent resource with West Academic that will prove incredibly beneficial to courses and clinics relating to business law as well as to Career Advisors mentoring students who want to learn more about life as a business lawyer, transactional attorney, or in-house counsel. Professor Lee’s book – The Legal Career: Knowing the Business, Thriving in Practice – is the first-of-its kind. According to West Academic:

“This business of law coursebook covers critical topics in the evolving legal profession. A fascinating, informative read for any law student or lawyer or person hoping to learn more about today’s legal landscape, the book features chapters on the structure and business of a law firm; the corporate law department; the emergence of law companies; legal technology; access to justice; employment and diversity in the legal profession; lawyer well-being; and legal education reform. Students will learn from detailed, insightful interviews of people working in law, including a co-founder of a leading law company; a legal innovation designer; the vice president and chief risk officer of a global medical technology company; a deputy legal counsel for an artist crowdfunding platform startup; a national pro bono counsel; law school deans; a law firm managing partner; and a senior director of knowledge and innovation delivery. Interactive exercises and questions for reflection and discussion are included throughout the book. This book, with its innovative holistic approach to the business of law, is ideal for business of law or legal professions courses, law school orientation, legal career services programs, and seminars on the legal profession.”

What a valuable addition to your classroom, Career Services, or law library this new resource will be!

If you have recently published a helpful teaching resource, please email us at teachlawbetter.com, and we might just share a post about it. 

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And the Oscar Goes to . . . Language

By: Abigail Perdue (Wake Forest Law)

an image of an award that looks like an OscarLanguage gave a powerful performance at the 92nd Academy Awards. From fashion to foreign films, words took center stage. Actress Natalie Portman gave new meaning to the phrase “fashion statement” when she donned a cape bearing the names of female directors whom she felt had been snubbed at prior Oscars. Words woven into her garment became her silent but powerful protest.

Parasite made history by becoming the first film, not in English, to win Best Picture. At a pivotal time when language barriers and cultural differences threaten to divide people of different national origins and backgrounds, Parasite broke down those walls, provoking a collective sense of awe at the satire’s disturbing depiction of what some have described as “brutal . . . class warfare” and the social chaos it produces.

Parasite also won the Academy Award for Best International Feature, an award formerly known as Best Foreign Film. Although the category is still limited to films predominantly in a language other than English, the Academy determined that the term “foreign” was antiquated and possibly offensive, opting for what it felt would be a more inclusive, evolved title.

Language continued to take center stage when Parasite’s director, Bong Joon-ho, employed an interpreter, Sharon Choi, to translate his numerous Oscar speeches into English throughout the night. Although he delivered his remarks in Korean, like his film, Joon-ho still spoke a language that everyone could understand and appreciate: the language of gratitude, earnestness, and humility. Through his sincerity, humor, and emotion, I quickly forgot that we were two very different people from very different countries and backgrounds who spoke very different languages. Instead, he felt familiar, like an old friend. His moving speech fostered togetherness and understanding.

Rather than touting his own accomplishments, Joon-ho spent most of his allotted time openly praising and honoring his fellow nominees. In a memorable and heartwarming Oscar moment, Joon-ho extolled Martin Scorsese for inspiring him to become a filmmaker. He spoke Scorsese’s words back to him in Korean: “The most personal is the most creative.” In so doing, Joon-ho demonstrated how Scorsese’s words had once reached a stranger in a distant land and altered the course of his life. Members of the audience were so moved that in response, they gave Scorsese an unforgettable standing ovation.

Joon-ho’s humility and graciousness again shone through when he expressed his desire to cut his Oscar into five equal parts to share with the other deserving nominees. Joon-ho had won, and they had lost. Yet his words powered through that divide to uplift his fellow nominees, making them equals rather than placing himself above them.

Subsequent winners followed suit with some of the most memorable Oscar acceptance speeches in recent history. Best Actor Joaquin Phoenix eloquently opined: “at times we feel . . . that we champion different causes, but for me, I see commonality. . . [W]hether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice.” With disturbing detail, he described the anguish of a baby calf forcefully removed from her mother, so that humans can instead steal the milk intended for her calf to use in their morning coffee. His words were convicting, risky, brave, and provocative. Teary-eyed, he ended his impassioned speech by quoting beautiful song lyrics from his deceased brother: “Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow” – words so meaningful that they had outlived their creator and made him immortal, first to his brother and now to us all. Similarly, Best Actress Renee Zellweger called for greater inclusion and civility, observing that “our heroes unite us.”

Unfortunately, at a time when polarization and prejudice threaten America, the powerful use of language at this year’s Oscars to underscore our common humanity and encourage us to unite have been largely overlooked or worse yet, derided by some media outlets. But the words were not lost on me. As a lover of language and teacher of communication, I, more than most, appreciate the profound power of Language to unite, to inspire, and to save. And this year, Language was the Leading Lady who truly stole the show!

What did the Oscars teach you? How might you incorporate major pop culture moments like the Oscars into your teaching? Share your good ideas at teachlawbetter.com, and we might just post them.

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