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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Teaching "Open Source" Civ Pro -- a Recap and a Revisit

A few years ago, I blogged (here and here) about my plans to teach “open source” civil procedure by using my own materials that students could access at little or no cost to them.  I've now taught the course twice with my own materials, although I have not yet reached my goal of completely open source or completely costless to students (more on that later).

During my guest stint here this month, I’ll write about how that’s been going, highlighting things that have worked well and challenges that I still face.  I’m looking forward to readers’ comments with suggestions for improvements and additions to my efforts.  I’ll also devote a few posts to challenges inherent in teaching specific topics within civil procedure with a call for creative ways to teach some of this material.  

Feel free to start posing questions or thoughts in the comments and I'll try to incorporate that in my posts over the next few weeks.

Posted by Robin Effron on July 14, 2015 at 03:50 PM in Civil Procedure, Teaching Law | Permalink


Just commenting to say that I am really eager to learn about your experience. For a variety of reasons I'm thinking about going down the same path. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Ray Campbell | Jul 15, 2015 11:06:17 AM

Thanks for the insight. I'll be sure to include accessibility issues in my posts.

Posted by: Robin Effron | Jul 14, 2015 6:58:38 PM

First off, I commend your efforts to reduce student expense in your class. Second, I'll share my unique experience.

As a totally blind 3L, I have experienced two classes where professors have completely prepared their own materials. Please let me briefly share my suggestions from a disability perspective.

The first class was Con Law 2, and the professor edited his own cases, added his own questions, and threw in interesting facts such as any connections that current faculty members at our school had with the case. The book was great, and he provided me with an actual version of the word-processed file that he edited himself.

However, the other teacher simply edited by blacking out portions of copied material, putting it all into a stack, and scanning it. As a blind person using a screen reader, I can access PDF files, but only if they are decent scans or, ideally, tagged PDF files. The entire semester saw me scrambling to do my reading for that class by having another student either read to me or finding out the original source of the copied materials and pulling it from the library myself.

Ironically, I got an A in that class, but the experience was pretty terrible. I say all that to make this point. Please be mindful, when making open-source materials, that you may have a blind student or otherwise print disabled student some day, and the better shape your current material is in, the more smoothly the process of insuring accommodations will go. In fact, so long as your files are properly tagged or cleanly scanned, the accommodations process may easily require nothing extra on your part. Sorry for the lengthy comment, but I'm on a mission to get accessibility baked into the cake for law school students who come after me. Finally, major props to the University of Kentucky College of Law for being wonderful with everything I've requested in my time with them.

Posted by: Chris Stewart | Jul 14, 2015 4:33:11 PM

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