Zelda Harris is currently the Director of the Dan K. Webb Center for Advocacy at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to this position, Professor Harris served as law faculty and director of the Domestic Violence Law Clinic, and codirector of the Child and Family Law at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law.
Further, Professor Harris is an active member of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, serving both as a NITA teacher and program director. We briefly spoke with Professor Harris about her use of the Acclaim video learning platform in her Trial Advocacy program.
Q: Why did you decide to use Acclaim? What were you doing before?
ZH: I attended the “Educating Advocates: Teaching Advocacy Skills at Stetson University College of Law” in May 2013, in which the principals of Acclaim presented a demonstration of their software program. The presenters and the presentation were quite impressive in terms of ease of use and accessibility of the program via the web. Prior to Acclaim, we used a video camera and CD/DVDs to record student performances. The performances were reviewed by the faculty with the student at the same time requiring the faculty member to “talk over” the video as it played in an attempt to show the student on the video how they can improve their advocacy skills.
Q: How is Acclaim being used in the classroom and as part of the curriculum?
ZH: We are using the Acclaim software in our traditional trial advocacy course and as an aid to our moot court/mock trial competition teams. For the trial advocacy class, students set up their own account and are required to download their performances after class each week. The videotaping of the students rotates from one small group of eight students each week. So, each week a new group of eight students is recorded. Once the student uploads his/her video, faculty are invited to view the video and to add comments. Once comments are added by the faculty, the video is sent back to the student for review. The moot court/mock trial teams are using the program occasionally to record practice sessions primarily to self-review their performances, but students are encouraged to invite their coaches to view their videos.
Q: What are/were the outcomes, lessons learned, benefits and continued applications of Acclaim in your course(s)?
ZH: The program has worked incredibly well. The faculty provides critique to students during the live performance, but the program allows a second chance for faculty to provide critical feedback to the student and gives the student an opportunity to review their performance outside of the stress of the live classroom setting. The program allows for seemingly unlimited comments to the video. In terms of lessons learned, we’ve found that students need to be prompted continually to upload their videos so from a workflow perspective, it may be easier for faculty to record, upload, and comment on the video(s) before inviting students for review.
Q: Any concluding thoughts or comments?
ZH: The Acclaim principals have been extremely responsive to any questions raised by faculty or students. We had a few issues with upload speed, likely a hardware issue, that Acclaim handled immediately. Students or faculty that had any difficulty setting up accounts were assisted the same day without delay. The staff and employees at Acclaim are very friendly and easy to work with on a consistent basis. Thank you!