Apps and Other Innovations for Teaching LRW

Presented by Maureen Moran
Instructional Services and Legal Research
Librarian/Assistant Professor of Lawyering Skills
Pacific McGeorge School of Law
Using videos and apps to teach LRW
What’s already out there
Making your own videos and apps
Why use videos and apps?
Considerations for videos
Apps for law students and law teachers
Why use videos and apps?
 Some students are visual learners or respond better to
interactive methods of instruction
 And some students always have their noses in their
smartphones, so why not reach them where they are?
 Videos and apps are accessible outside of class time
 Longer videos can be used as part of a flipped classroom
 Shorter videos can be used in class, then made available
for refreshers outside class
 Content may be provided by experts
Considerations for videos
 Know why you’re using them
 What do you hope to accomplish?
 Are the videos the right length and level of detail?
 Consider breaking up longer videos into discrete
 Are they accessible to students?
 Consider hosting on Blackboard, TWEN, Sakai, etc., or a
private YouTube channel
 Do they actually work?
 Both technically and substantively.
Considerations for videos
 Content
 Research and oral argument/practice skills most
amenable to video presentation
 Longer videos (over 15 minutes) are more appropriate for
complicated subjects, such as treaty research, EU
research, or teaching oral argument or negotiation skills;
these may be broken down into smaller segments
 Shorter videos (under 15 minutes; ideally closer to 5) are
terrific for showing students how to accomplish a
discrete task, such as using digests or citators, or specific
parts of an oral argument.
Considerations for videos
 Presentation
 Videos should provide some kind of visual content or
 Avoid talking-head videos that don’t provide useful
Show, don’t tell
 When you watch a video to be used in class or assigned
to students, ask yourself how useful they are and
whether they have enough interest to keep your
attention. If they can’t hold your attention, your
students will probably find them less engaging.
Apps for law students and law
 There are four main types of apps that may be useful to
law students and law teachers:
 Legal research apps
 Subject-matter legal apps
 Practitioner-focused legal apps
Calendaring, court rules, timekeeping, exhibit and transcript
management, etc.
 Productivity apps
Note taking, scheduling, anti-procrastination, etc.
Apps for law students and law
 Benefits of using apps:
 Greater student engagement
 Some students may learn better when presented with
interactive tools and technologies
 Some apps, such as productivity tools, may be very
helpful for students with time-management issues
 As long as students can access them, they can have
information available wherever they have their devices
Apps for law students and law
 Limitations of apps
 Accessibility: some apps are available for only certain
devices and operating systems
 Cost, if not free
 Design
 What kind of information can be delivered on a fourinch screen
 Apps for what you’re looking for may not exist, or may
not be in a useful format
But this can be fixed if you make your own
 Legal research videos
 Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg all have video tutorials on
their sites
 Legal research videos are accessible via a search on YouTube –
Harvard Law School’s Law Library produces excellent short
“how to use this source” legal research tutorials
 Legal skills videos
 There are various paid services which have arguments,
negotiations and mediation videos available
 YouTube is also a good source, though quality varies widely
 How to find apps
 Several law school libraries have compiled research guides to
legal apps:
University of Wisconsin:
Boston University:
Georgia State:
 Some examples of Legal Apps:
Any apps for LRW?
 There are really only two specifically for LRW:
iWrite Legal
 Developed by Kathleen Vinson at Suffolk University
Law School
 Contains checklists, legal writing and proofreading
tips, and social content (Twitter feed, YouTube
channel, and podcasts)
 Limitations: Checklists are merely lists; legal writing
tips are not searchable; social media content is thin,
though the podcasts are active.
iWrite Legal
iWrite Legal
Cite-Checker App
 Subtitled Your Guide to the Bluebook, developed by
Deborah E. Bouchoux
 Companion to the book of the same name; part of the
Aspen Law in a Flash series
 Uses flashcards to help students learn Bluebook
 Can be viewed in different ways: all cards, by topic, by
tag, or by notes (created by user)
Cite-Checker App
Cite-Checker App
Why make your own videos and apps?
Making videos
Writing apps
Why make your own videos and
 Control the content
 If you have to rely on a YouTube search to find good
examples for oral arguments, you may be searching a
long time to find what you need. Why not make a video
showing your students exactly what you want?
 Ensure that the result fits in with your pedagogy
 You can rely on videos produced by Westlaw, Lexis, etc.,
but they will focus only on their own products and they
will downplay the drawbacks of their systems (as well as
the cost)
Making your own videos
 You will need a script and visuals
 You may have live-action shots, or you may use a
program like Camtasia to capture what’s happening on a
computer screen while someone provides narration
 You will need someone who can do the production
 You likely already have someone at your library or in
your IT or AV departments who has the expertise and
the equipment
 You will need somewhere to put the finished product
 Consider access, size of file, etc.
Making your own apps
 The first thing you need is an idea
 Don’t be afraid to ask your students what they’d like to
see in an app, or what might be useful for them
 The second thing you need is a sense of how that idea
can be presented in app format
 Animations?
 Quizzes?
 Decision Trees?
 Notes and tags?
Making your own apps
 Then, you need a code monkey who knows how to put apps
 Again, you should be able to find someone in your library, IT
or AV departments who’s more than happy to develop appbuilding skills
 Platform considerations
 IOS, Android, web-based, or platform agnostic?
 Optimized for a particular device within a particular
operating system (such as iPhone5 vs. iPad)?
 App-building software
 Dreamweaver works for HTML5; AppArchitect is another
option, though it will code for a specific platform
Making your own apps: example
 I’m in the process of developing an app. The following
slides are screen caps of the rough development that
my code monkey has produced from the PowerPoints
I’ve given him of the content.
 He used AppArchitect for iPhone, and reports that the
most difficult part was coding the different sizes of
 What you see here was done in a few hours.
Making your own apps: example
Making your own apps: example
Thank you!
Maureen Moran
Pacific McGeorge School of Law
(916) 733-2804
[email protected]

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