Except for those of you in the South of Florida or Southern California, January of 2014 has been one for the record books. Arctic cold fronts and blizzards have buffeted the majority of us since New Years Day and forecasts are calling for more of the same in February. Many law schools are closing for safety’s sake, but this means students and professors are facing either make up classes or tightened schedules to complete missed work days.
CALI can help!
One of CALI’s services is Classcaster, a free website, blogging and podcasting tool. Classcaster is built on WordPress, an open source blogging tool. The WordPress back end means that Classcaster has many function and appearance options available so that you can customize it to your wants and needs. The fact that it’s operated by CALI means that you always have a friendly face available for advice and tech support. We have a sample site using many of the special functions available for viewing.
Classcaster is currently used by several law professors as a platform to provide supplemental materials to their classes. A great example is Professor Norm Garland of Southwestern School of Law. He posts video and audio recordings of his lectures for his students to review at their leisure after class. He very generously leaves his website open to the public, but with Classcaster you are able to limit who is able to see your site as well as delay the posting of material. Professor Garland also has his IT department record his lectures, but it is possible to do it with a simple phone call – an example of this is shown in the sample Classcaster website.
The current weather patterns have reminded us that Classcaster also allows law professors to host a “virtual class” for students. Everyone can stay safe and warm (even when the university hasn’t closed) and the rest of the course isn’t rushed with trying to make up missed material. What would this look like? Classroom discussions can be accomplished via comments to a post or by giving the students full blogging privileges on the site. Course materials such as powerpoint presentations, extra readings or audios of lectures can also be posted. If you’d like something a little more instantaneous, there are chat room plug-ins if you would like to have a live written conversation and Google Hangout/YouTube embed codes for a live lecture. We’ve even created special codes to embed CALI lessons in Classcaster so our assessment tools can be seamlessly integrated into your site.
If you have any questions or need help in creating a Classcaster site, please contact Elmer Masters, CALI’s Director of Web Development at firstname.lastname@example.org