Video Technology Helps Columbia University Law Students Hone Their Courtroom and Negotiation Skills
Video is playing an increasing role in legal education and institutions such as Columbia University Law School use platforms like Echo360 in a number of innovative ways beyond traditional lecture capture. This includes recording mock trials and negotiation sessions where students can practice their skills in a supervised setting and receive important feedback on their performance.
Video Feedback Helps Students Learn the “Art” of Negotiation
Every semester, Columbia Law School runs a series of clinical workshops designed to give students opportunities to put into practice the knowledge they have acquired in the classroom. Among these are workshops in negotiations and arbitration and the school uses Echo360 to record students, often working in small groups as they practice their negotiation and mediation skills.
“These workshops teach our students how to be a lawyer,” says Luis Bello, director of multimedia at Columbia Law School. “They are presented with real-life scenarios, organized into small groups of 2-3 students representing each side of the argument. The goal is to learn how to mediate and broker a solution before a case goes to trial.”
According to Bello, workshop instructors will adjust the classroom cameras to record the details of how the students are interacting. This includes recording how they stand, if they are making eye contact, and even minute details such as their facial expressions.
“The recordings are invaluable,” says Bello. “The goal is to help them become better negotiators and the workshops help them practice those skills. Students can review the video and it becomes a form of self-evaluation. They can view their performance and make improvements the next time.”
Recorded “Mock Court” Sessions Help Students Develop Courtroom Skills
We’ve all watched courtroom dramas on television and in film where impassioned attorneys argue their client’s case before judge and jury. In the movies, the action is scripted, and the outcomes are known, at least to the actors and directors. But real life doesn’t follow a script, and Columbia Law uses Echo360 to record mock trials that give students an opportunity to argue cases and practice their courtroom skills.
“We set up a mock courtroom where a professor will sit and act as the judge,” says Bello. “The sessions are recorded using Echo360 and once again, watching the video gives students valuable feedback. It’s not just whether they’ve successfully presented the merits of their case that is important. But, it’s also their performance, are they believable and convincing? We are doing this more and more now and it has become a de facto way of evaluating students.”
Students Drive Demand for Video in the Classroom
Columbia University has used Echo360 for more than 10 years, and Bello has seen a steady increase in usage within the school of law and across the entire campus. Bello attributes much of that growth to Echo360’s ease-of-use and that students have been driving the demand for the system.
“Our students treat Echo360 as an app,” says Bello. “Since it is integrated with Canvas, they see the Echo360 button when they log in. The design is very intuitive and makes it very easy for students to use. Instructor attitudes have also changed over the past ten years too. At first, we only did audio recordings. Over time, and in response to student demand, instructors added their PowerPoint slides and they became more comfortable being on camera. Today, we record between 2500-3000 sessions per semester with more than 20,000 student views. These sessions are all recorded with audio, video, and PowerPoint presentations. I only see that number increasing.”
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