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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Assigning videos for class?

This semester, I'm teaching a seminar on consumer financial law. It's my first time teaching this topic and my first time teaching a paper-based seminar. Adam Levitin was gracious enough to let my class use a draft version of his textbook. And both Adam and Susan Block-Lieb, who also uses his casebook, shared some of their notes and slides with me. Yet, I still spend an enormous amount of time preparing for this class. After all, while it's relatively easy to figure out what I want students to learn, it's much more challenging to figure out how best to present the material so that they will learn it.

Some folks who teach consumer law have made use of a series of medium-length videos by John Oliver. I've been thinking of doing so too. I'm also considering assigning a ~40 min film called Spent. My gut reaction is that it's likely to be more effective than assigning additional reading, if purely for the novelty of it. The only variety I had in assignments when I was a student was being asked to read books vs. law review articles vs. cases.

But, in addition to highlighting these resources through this post, I'm also curious for feedback. While I've assigned podcasts, I've never assigned movies. Do folks have any experience in doing so? Is it well received by students? Do you find videos to be more (or less) effective than assigning reading?


Posted by Matthew Bruckner on September 6, 2016 at 09:58 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink


I assign some videos in my seminar on Scientific & Expert Evidence class, both TED talks but also Frontline episodes on forensic evidence. I think it is invaluable for students to see the issues in question, rather than just read about them. It may depend on the subject, and the "fit" of the videos to the class, but with careful selection, I am strongly in favor of them.

Posted by: Andrew Jurs | Sep 6, 2016 11:14:18 AM

If you do assign videos you may want to mention that they can be speed up with pitch correction -- still comprehensible but take less time. On youtube the option is under the gear button.

Posted by: brad | Sep 6, 2016 2:13:24 PM

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