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Introducing images and video in H2O

Spurred in part by the remote learning environment of the past year, educators have increasingly come to rely on H2O as a primary teaching tool and have been eager to incorporate more of their open educational content in one place. Today we're announcing that H2O authors now have the ability to upload images and embed videos in their casebooks alongside other materials like cases, U.S. code, text, and links.

With these new multimedia options in H2O, authors are able to use the text editor to upload images like flowcharts, sketches, photographs, and anything else that helps them support a concept in their book (see sample image below). Authors are also able to embed any video from Vimeo or YouTube they’d like to use to illustrate a topic they are teaching. This includes their own video lectures, but could also include other publicly available videos related to their topic.

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Professor Jonathan Zittrain on the promise of open legal education

Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School. He is also a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a professor of computer science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, director of the Harvard Law School Library, and co-founder and director of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. He is also a founder of the H2O platform. We recently talked about how he uses H2O in his classroom and his take on the benefits and opportunities of open legal education technologies.

What are your primary areas of teaching and research?

I teach Torts, as well as a number of courses about the digital space: privacy, property, and speech online; the ethics of artificial intelligence; and the digital online architectures, including who controls them, and how they in turn shape us.

What prompted the development of H2O and your own decision to start teaching with H2O?

I was interested in developing and using H2O in my own classroom for a few reasons. From the student’s point of view, especially in law where 90% of the contents of a casebook are public domain materials - written opinions by judges, paid for by tax dollars - the fact that those books go for $250 or $300 a pop per course just seems usurious.

Further, it’s interesting how much, in order to fit a case into a casebook, you understandably need to trim it and take out a bunch of stuff. But certainly the judge writing the opinion thought that all the words were needed. So, through H2O’s case annotation tool, there’s a simple mechanism to create an ellipsis when the teacher removes a section of the case that students can then click on and in an instant see what they’re missing. I have found when I’m assigning an opinion that it’s the perfect balance in highlighting the most important parts while trusting the student to know when that extra context would be helpful.

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Introducing United States Code in H2O

Today we’re announcing the release of a new integration in H2O. Casebook authors can now directly search for and integrate sections from the United States Code into their casebooks alongside cases, articles, and other materials. Our source for the U.S. Code is the Government Publishing Office’s govinfo website: https://www.govinfo.gov/app/collection/uscode.

This release is the next step in a process that began with H2O’s integration with the Caselaw Access Project (CAP) in 2018, and we continue to explore opportunities to incorporate primary legal documents into H2O. By seamlessly providing authors access to more legal materials, we can expand how legal educators approach their “casebooks” and build a teaching and learning tool with room to make new kinds of connections, arguments, and lessons.

Authors can use the U.S. Code integration in a variety of ways, for example by incorporating sections of code alongside cases and other materials in new or existing casebooks (see below), or by creating separate statutory supplements to augment their existing casebooks. Screenshot of casebook featuring both cases and sections of code.

Ready to add sections of federal code to your book? Here’s how it works:

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Professor Chris Bavitz on teaching for a decade with H2O

Chris Bavitz is the WilmerHale Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is also Managing Director of HLS’s Cyberlaw Clinic, based at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. And, he is a Faculty Co-Director of the Berkman Klein Center. Chris teaches the Counseling and Legal Strategy in the Digital Age and Music & Digital Media seminars, and he concentrates his practice activities on intellectual property and media law (particularly in the areas of music, entertainment, and technology). We recently talked about how he approaches the evolution of his course material after a decade of teaching with H2O.

What courses are you currently teaching or preparing to teach?

I work with the team at the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School and co-teach the Cyberlaw Clinic Seminar with my colleague, Jess Fjeld. I also teach a couple of other non-clinical courses including one that I’ve taught with H2O for over a decade — a class called Music and Digital Media.

When did you first start using H2O?

The first law school course I ever taught completely on my own was the Music and Digital Media course, and I used H2O for it from the very beginning. The H2O platform was very much in its infancy at the time, but it quickly became apparent that it was going to fulfill a really specific need in terms of annotating and excerpting cases. It would also be a good place to gather readings and links to readings that did not need to be excerpted.

The bread and butter of law school teaching materials are court opinions. Typically, cases include a lot of material beyond what we want to assign a law student to read in a given week. H2O had developed an elegant solution to this problem — I could select a chunk of text and press a button to hide it from view while keeping it available to students to access if they wanted to see it. And, I remember thinking, “why did we not have this before?” It felt like a no-brainer that for cases, statutes, and other primary source legal materials, H2O was the best possible solution.

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Professor Brian Quinn on teaching corporations with H2O

Brian Quinn is a professor at Boston College Law School where he teaches Corporations, Corporate Counsel Seminar, Mergers & Acquisitions, as well as Deals: The Economic Structure of Transactions. Professor Quinn's research focuses on corporate law, mergers & acquisitions, the structuring of transactions, transactional law, and private ordering. We recently spoke about his longtime use of H2O to teach Corporations, and the casebook he is currently developing to teach Venture Capital.

When did you first start using H2O, and what prompted you to transition your course material into H2O?

I first started using H2O in the fall of 2013, so almost 8 years ago. A couple of things prompted me - first, I found myself using a well known casebook that really reflected the author’s idea of the proper sequencing and coverage of materials. So I would be assigning things seemingly randomly throughout the casebook so that students would be reading the sections that reflected what I thought they needed to learn. I found that a little uncomfortable, and students didn’t always understand why I was assigning certain sections and skipping others. Second, the price of the materials available always struck me as outrageous. Given that these are largely public documents that we rely on to build the backbone of the casebooks, it makes no sense for these to cost $200 or $300 per book. It was really a combination of being unhappy with what was on offer and with the price that drove me to buckle down one day over the summer and give H2O a shot.

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