Creating and Implementing Teaching Videos for Interactive Learning in Hybrid and Online Classes

Different ways to use technology to teach legal writing while remaining engaging and interactive with the students

August 06, 2020
By: Michelle Zakarin, J.D., Touro College Law Center

Working in the Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center’s FlexTime Program required me to think about different ways to use technology to teach legal writing while remaining engaging and interactive with the students. I developed videos for the major areas of the course that could be watched by students before our bi-weekly in-person classroom meetings. This essentially “flipped” my classroom enabling the students to come to each class with a strong understanding of the material. This was done before the COVID-19 pandemic and has proven to be particularly useful throughout this time.

Students learned much of the skills necessary for success in my Legal Process course from watching my own original teaching videos. I used powerpoint slides within most videos and included specific examples along with overall instruction. The powerpoint slides helped organize the material by topics and sub-topics. This was especially useful for visual learners who appreciate a written example, pictures and diagrams, or an outlined chart for a specific issue. Class time was used to review and work on additional examples. Some examples were used to allow students to work individually and at other times we used team-based learning to develop and assess parts of the writing projects assigned. For a fully online class, the Zoom breakout feature can be used for team-based group learning, allowing the instructor to “check-in” on each breakout room.

There are many ways to create videos. For me, using Zoom as a platform is the easiest and most effective way to develop them. Once my powerpoint is completed and visible on my laptop screen, I log onto my Zoom account and I start a new meeting. I am the only person attending this meeting and I share my screen so the powerpoint becomes visible on the Zoom meeting screen and a small square with my face is in the top right corner. When I am ready to begin, I hit the record button on Zoom and begin speaking as I click through the powerpoint. I explain what the students need to know as if I am speaking to the students directly. Once I complete the lesson, I stop the recording. I then stop the meeting entirely and the recoding is automatically saved on my computer. I am then able to upload it to my Canvas page for students to view at their convenience.

The viewing of one or multiple videos is required before the following class, either in-person or synchronously online. When class begins, the students are familiar with many basic concepts from watching the videos. Thus, class time is used for a quick review and to answer questions. With the remaining class time, they can begin practicing what they have learned. Practicing in class has advantages. One advantage is that they are practicing while the lesson is fresh on their minds. Another advantage is that their peers are present to assist as they begin a task and I am also present to answer any specific questions they have as they begin.

The flipped classroom model has been discussed in higher education for years, but never has there been a more opportune time to use this teaching style than in an online or hybrid classroom. Making efficient use of one’s class time assists in students’ overall attention span and leads to a greater understanding of the material being taught.