By: Professor Heidi K. Brown (Brooklyn Law School)
Midway through pandemic lockdown in New York City, my television was tuned to CNN one Saturday morning while I exercised in my kitchen. My ears perked up at hearing an elementary school principal in Washington, D.C.—Dr. Sundai Riggins—relay in an interview how students who were not talkative in in-person classes were expressing themselves more frequently in distance learning. I thought, Wow, I wish every educator (and politician) could hear that message!
When the law school where I teach switched to “emergency remote learning” in March, I too noticed students who rarely raised their hand in our live classroom quickly embracing online communication tools such as the “hand-raise” and “chat” features in Zoom. These electronic functions enable quiet students to signal a desire to contribute without having to interrupt their more voluble classmates or teacher to be heard. (Introverts resist interruption—to themselves and others.) This got me thinking, Are other educators across the country noticing an uptick in participation by quiet students during the pandemic? Continue reading “Let’s Listen to the Quiet Ones: How Quiet Students Thrive in Remote Learning”
In Part I, we introduced the idea of an avatar and described how Joy has used avatars to help students prepare for oral argument in the physical classroom as well as an online one.
In Part II of this three-part series, we re-envision the avatar as a tool to enhance law student engagement in the online classroom, as well as how it can be useful to build professional identity. First, we focus on how avatars can be used right at the start of the semester for community-building purposes. The local culture that we create in the (online) classroom matters. The social norms that we establish can assist students in identifying and addressing inequities in the law. Here, we encourage faculty to build classroom norms that challenge the notion of objectivity and that value subjective perspectives. Second, we present reasons that avatars can also help enhance professional identity building during the semester as well, a purpose that is enhanced further if community has already been built in the classroom. Continue reading “Self-Made: Introducing Avatars in the Online Law Classroom (Part Two)”
I have a confession: I am incredibly technologically challenged. My Apple TV no longer turns on unless I yank the little black box thingy out of the wall and plug it back in. My Bissell vacuum cleaner won’t stay charged. Every clock in my Brooklyn apartment shows a different time of day. My watch battery is dead. I still have a landline. I would rather converse on my landline than my cell phone . . . that is, if I speak on any phone at all (#introvertproblems). All signs would point to me being the least likely law professor in the universe to be enthusiastic about shifting to online teaching. Yet somehow, I am excited to take on this challenge. I’m eager to figure out a way to help our students navigate these uncertain times in their 1L year, which is already a stressful life experience. Continue reading “Embracing Online Teaching with a Growth Mindset”
By: Professor Kenneth Swift (University of Houston)
As law professors transition to an online format in response to COVID-19, one concern for some professors is whether an online course can still provide an active learning experience. I have taught law school courses asynchronously for over ten years and believe that a well-constructed asynchronous course can provide an active learning environment that in some ways exceeds the live classroom. Using this format, I have developed both an Employment Law course and a general drafting course. I also addressed active learning in my article: The Seven Principles of Good Practice in (Asynchronous Online) Legal Education,44 Mitchell Hamline L. Rev. 105 (2018). In the article, I took principles developed through a series of highly influential articles authored by seven different law professors in the late 1990s, which helped shape modern law school teaching. Then I applied those principles to asynchronous online teaching.
As COVID-related course interruption prompts schools, universities, and now courts to suspend in-person meetings and transition online, two questions sprang to my mind: Are we prepared for this change? Are there established best practices for videoconferencing during court appearances? Thankfully, the answer to both questions is a resounding YES! Continue reading “Back to the Future: Conducting Virtual Oral Arguments”