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New Feature: Draft and Published Modes

One of H2O's newest features is the "draft" and "published" modes for a casebook.

If you click the Revise button while viewing one of your casebooks:

Screenshot showing draft and published modes

It creates a separate, draft version of this casebook that you can makes changes to.

Once you've made the desired changes, return to the Casebook tab, and click the Publish button, located in the same spot Revise was. This merges all changes into the published casebook, and removes the draft casebook. Having separate draft and published versions of the casebook keep your students (and anyone else accessing your casebook) from seeing something different every time they visit the page, if you happen to be in the midst of changes.

If you have an active draft version of the casebook, you can get to it via your dashboard, which is accessible by clicking the H2O logo in the upper left. The yellow band appearing across your casebook will take you to the draft mode, clicking anywhere else on it takes you to the published version. See below:

Screenshot of dashboard showing draft and published version of casebook

Questions? Reach out to us at h2o@cyber.law.harvard.edu!


H2O at CALIcon 2018

I had the pleasure of giving a few presentations at this year’s CALICon conference, located at American University. The first conference I went to after starting at the Harvard Law Library was at American University, making this a homecoming of sorts: In 2014 I gave a 7 minute presentation on H2O at the LegalED conference; this year at CALI I gave two 1-hour long presentations on Perma.cc and H2O.

Discussing H2O was a natural fit for CALICon – “Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction” conference – given the H2O redesign’s focus on legal textbooks over other concentrations.

The session was fruitful, and I had the time to dig into a few different areas:

  • The core precepts we considered integral to H2O as a platform: easy to read and access, easy to build a casebook on, ability to clone and remix others’ content, and ability to export the content as a potential print-on-demand text.
  • Changes that we’ve made so far on the redesign, including ‘draft mode’ and the simpler user dashboard: while H2O’s old dashboard served as a collection-place of various items, H2O’s new dashboard serves as the launching point for users to access their casebooks.
  • What’s next for H2O: CAP integration, improved export, and other enhancements such as the ability to share edit access to your casebook.
  • Finally, challenges to H2O use and adoption: the workload required of an instructor interested in creating a new casebook (and how to ameliorate that); the continuing interest in paper texts despite the digital option, and how to keep up support for non print-on-demand users.

There was an good back-and-forth on what sort of faculty are more or less interested in digital, open casebooks, as well as helpful feedback from CALI member Elmer Masters (who’s been a part of CALI’s related eLangdell project for some time).

Thanks to everyone that came out and shared their thoughts – and see you next year! -Brett


The Other Open Access Debate: Educational Resources

An engaging article on open education resources was recently tweeted by Google CEO Eric Schmidt – in it the authors explore the burden that the rising cost of textbooks have placed on students, the ways it hinders their learning and the extent – or lack thereof – that the open-access movement has focused on rectifying this.

Expensive, underutilized textbooks often build a barrier between both the instructor and students. The students begrudge the expectation that they purchase a pricy text that feels more a boondoggle than essential resource and the students and the educational success, with many students purchasing older versions of the texts to save money or deciding to not purchase one at all.

As the article notes, many STEM texts are predominantly composed of public research, but nonetheless carry price-tags of $250 dollars or more. Similarly, legal textbooks, or ‘casebooks,’ being composed almost entirely of public materials has led H2O to focus on them: as much of the text is already public domain but nonetheless published in texts costing $150 or more, incorporating them into an open, flexible digital platform was a foregone conclusion.

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Read more on open education resources above – then check out H2O here!