Session 4 – Engaging Your Students

Podcast/Mp3 for Download


April Dawson’s Slides (PPT) (PDF)

Norm Garland’s Slides (PPT) (PDF)

Steve Friedland’s Slides (PPT) (PDF)

Transcript (Microsoft Word DOC) – with annotations.  Links extracted below

Q&A Session 4 – Session4-Garland-Freidland-Dawson-responses (updated 7/12/2020)


Student engagement

What type of class are you teaching?



Norm Garland’s CALI Lessons

BOOK: What the Best Law Teachers Do


Dennis Kennedy

RadioLab podcast on Dred Scott!521af

Stuff You Missed in History podcast

CSPAN Landmark Cases

Eyes on the Prize Part 2

Elizabeth Eckford

BUCK v. BELL, Superintendent of State Colony Epileptics and Feeble Minded.

The Supreme Court Ruling That Led To 70,000 Forced Sterilizations

Eugenics In North Carolina And Victim Compensation

BOOK: Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America

Slides from April Dawson Zoom course “Engaging Students While Teaching on Zoom”

WEBINAR: April Dawson Zoom course “Engaging Students While Teaching on Zoom”

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect – The Gun Show

Airtable Attendance Form Quick Tutorial

Berlitz Corporation

Camtasia Powerpoint Plugin to Record Narration

Forgetting Curve

Randy Bass / Georgetown / Visible Knowledge Project

Spaced Repetition

Cognitive Emotional Pedagogy

Method of loci / Memory Palace memorization technique

Hermann Ebbinghaus

Spaced Repetition software

Anki / free spaced repetition / flashcards

Spaced Repetition: A Method for Learning More Law in Less Time / Gabriel H. Teninbaum

In traditional classroom teaching, we rely on the students’ visual cues to confirm their understanding and engagement. Online teaching, whether synchronous or asynchronous, creates new challenges to ensuring student engagement. An asynchronous course designed in advance allows for little room for spontaneous course-correction. However, incorporating active learning elements, such as discussions, group projects, and assignments in online teaching, can engage students in the course.

Today’s speakers will share their years of experience teaching online.


April G. Dawson is a professor of law at North Carolina Central University School of Law. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and was a computer programmer before attending law school. April received her law degree cum laude from Howard University School of Law in 1994. After law school, April joined the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice through its Attorney General’s Honors Program. While at the Department of Justice, she argued cases before the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits. In 1996, April served as law clerk to the Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Following her clerkship, she worked as a litigation associate at a Washington, D.C. firm. While at the firm, she was also an adjunct legal writing professor at the George Washington University School of Law.

April joined the faculty at NCCU Law in 2006 where she teaches, among other classes, Constitutional Law, Supreme Court Seminar, and Legal Technology Leadership. She has been voted professor of the year on multiple occasions. In addition to researching and writing about the federal judiciary, April researches, writes, and speaks about legal pedagogy and the use of technology in legal education. April was the organizer of the AALS Section on Technology, Law and Legal Education inaugural 2019 Summer Webinar Series, and was also a presenter for two of the webinar sessions: Teaching with Technology for Maximum Student Engagement and Tech Productivity Tips for Law Faculty. April is the organizer of the 2020 AALS Section on Technology 2020 Summer Webinar Series and was also a presenter for the Paperless Law Prof webinar session. April was a presenter at the ABA TECHSHOW 2020, where she served on two panels: Skills Building: Best Practices for Teaching Tech to Law Students and Tech Forward: New Jobs for New Lawyers.

Steve Friedland, Senior Scholar and Professor of Law at the Elon University School of Law, is a founding member of the law school faculty who taught at the law schools of the University of Georgia, Miami, Nova Southeastern and Georgia State before coming to Elon Law. In addition to law teaching, Friedland has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and as an Assistant Director of the Office of Legal Education in the Department of Justice.
Friedland is an accomplished scholar who has published articles in such journals as the Northwestern U. Law Journal, the Duke Law Journal (online), the Washington & Lee Law Review, and the Stanford Law & Policy Review. His books on Evidence Law, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Procedure and Law School Teaching have been published by the West Publishing Company, Aspen Press, Lexis Publishing Company and Carolina Academic Press.

Friedland was elected to the American Law Institute, served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Law School Admission Council, and is a current member of the Lexis Advisory Board. He has won numerous teaching awards at several law schools over three decades and was named one of the best law teachers in America by the Harvard University Press book, What the Best Law Teachers Do. He is an internationally known speaker on legal education who has worked with the Japan Legal Foundation to develop law schools in Japan, and with Afghanistan law schools to improve the rule of law in that country pursuant to a USAID initiative. He has lectured to thousands of students across the country preparing for the bar exam. Friedland holds a juris doctor degree with honors from Harvard Law School, as well as a master of law and doctor of the science of law degrees from Columbia University Law School, where he was a Dollard Fellow in Law, Medicine and Psychiatry.

Norman M. Garland, Second Century Chair in Law / Professor of Law, at Southwestern Law School, was busy “24/7” as a law student in Chicago—taking classes, serving as an editor of the law review, and making a living as an accountant. Upon graduation, he moved to Washington, D.C. where he tried real cases by day and hypothetical cases by night while earning his LL.M. degree in trial advocacy.

Early in his legal career, as an attorney with the corporate antitrust firm of Howrey & Simon, Professor Garland handled most of the firm’s pro bono criminal defense work in addition to civil cases. A few years later, he returned to his alma mater to teach law and serve as Assistant Dean of Admissions. During that time, he also served as general counsel for the Better Government Association (BGA), a local watchdog group, and was often aided by his students in the BGA’s undercover investigations of graft and corruption in Chicago government.

Professor Garland was appointed to the Southwestern faculty in 1975. He was named as the Irwin R. Buchalter Professor of Law in 1992, and as the Paul E. Treusch Professor of Law in 2008. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Southwestern in 2016. Always interested in methods to improve law teaching, Professor Garland was one of the first law professors in the country to incorporate computer and internet-related resources in the classroom. In 1998, he received the first “TWEN Innovation in Teaching Award” from West Group. A year later, his expertise was recognized by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction which awarded him one of five CALI Fellowships to create computer-based learning materials. He has authored seven CALI lessons on Criminal Law and Evidence. In recent years he has adapted his Evidence and Constitutional Criminal Procedure classes to distance learning in hybrid form, meaning the classes are partially online. He served on the faculty of Emory University School of Law’s Trial Advocacy Program for several years, and spent a semester there as a visiting professor of law. Professor Garland has also served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association for over two decades.

Learning Outcomes

  1. List three methods to improve student discussion postings.
  2. Demonstrate at least one method to engage students online.
  3. Describe two ways you can connect with students either individually, in small groups, or with the whole class.


Edwige Simon, 10 Tips for Effective Online Discussions, Nov 21, 2018, (The author’s comments are based on teaching graduate level courses and offer ideas about how to manage and encourage online discussion boards). (4 minutes)

Oranburg, Seth and Tamasy, David, Corporations Hybrid: A COVID Case Study on Innovation in Business Law Pedagogy (May 4, 2020). Duquesne University School of Law Research Paper No. 2020-03. Available at SSRN: (30 minutes).

No Assessment for this session.

Discussion Forum Questions

  1. When teaching in the classroom, many of us turn to the class and ask “any questions” to engage with students and to confirm their understanding. What technique might work for your online teaching? Respond here.
  2. What direction through rubrics, can you provide to students to improve the quality of online discussion? For example, beyond the stated question, can you guide whether they should recall information or apply the law to facts; how much time should they spend on the item? Respond here.