Asynchronous Online Courses and Active Learning

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.

In this short post, I will share a few tips to create an active learning environment and effective asynchronous course: Continue reading “Asynchronous Online Courses and Active Learning”

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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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