I have had the privilege of teaching Law Practice Technology for FIU for a second semester. Developing this course has been an iterative process. Since this semester had four more weeks to fill than the summer, I took this opportunity to retool the course and redraft the assignments.
One significant change I made was to create rubrics for each assignment. All rubrics require some subjectivity in grading, but when students questioned grades, these were essential to providing answers. They also allowed me to recognize my internal bias.
Many assignments were well-presented and well-articulated but lacking some of the substance I required. Whereas others that were shorter and more concise were more thorough. My instinct was to give the former a higher grade because of the apparent effort. However, that would stray from the purpose of the assignments. Thankfully my rubrics kept me equitable in my grading.
I also tweaked the legal technology classic timekeeping assignment. Instead of focusing on weekly timekeeping assignments. I had students submit time sheets every two weeks for three weeks, using a different tracking system each week. The final portion was a reflection assignment. This seems to have made students understand the impact technology has had on administrative efficiency in law practice.
Because of an oversight on my part, students believed the technology pitch assignment was a group assignment. When I discovered the mistakes, I gave students the option to submit the assignment in the group or individually. Interestingly, working in a group did not necessarily translate to better scores.
The spread was almost the same, group or individual. I think when I teach the course again in the summer, I might record a sample pitch to highlight the difference between explaining a product and pitching it to decision makers, as several submissions were more explanation than persuasion. I may allow groups collaboration in the research and planning stages, but require shorter individual presentations in the future, and possibly have them submit a quick highlight sheet with the presentation.
This semester was a much smaller cohort, which made the workload much more manageable with LARW on my plate as well. The smaller class size did not amount to less engaged students. All the students took this course very seriously, and many put an abundance of effort into each assignment. As such, I need to put equal effort into my class materials. I will continue to restructure and revise each iteration to ensure the students get a class worthy of the work they are putting into it.