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Monday, June 17, 2013

Quick Update on Diagnostic Trials and Acclaim

A couple of days ago, I posted about trying diagnostic trials in my basic trial advocacy course and having the students review their performances with Acclaim software. I'm grateful, by the way, for Mark Caldwell's comment to that blog post about the value of diagnostic trials for setting a performance baseline. Mark is one of the most thoughtful people I know, both professionally and personally, and I value his opinions about how to improve teaching. He's influenced a lot of advocacy teachers during his time at NITA.

The trials occurred last week. I posted the videos on Acclaim immediately after the trials. I recorded them in segments (openings, direct and cross of each individual witness, closings) so it would be easier for the students to find and comment on their individual performances. I also gave the students an assignment to watch the videos and make comments on them using Acclaim's time-stamped commenting feature. In addition, I provided the students with a template for a self-analysis memorandum to assess their overall performance in several specific areas.

They had to turn everything in by Monday, June 17. Meanwhile, I traveled to Israel for an academic fellowship with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. In my free time at the hotel, I've been able to review and reply to their comments on Acclaim. I'm 8000 miles away from them, and yet we are able to engage in a productive, thoughtful--albeit asynchronous--dialogue about their performances. I love it! As I write this, it is Tuesday morning, the 18th, in Israel, and the evening of the 17th in Carbondale. I just finished reviewing and commenting on their video comments.

I will also say this about Acclaim. I've been using self-directed video review in my classes for several years. Sometimes, from the responses, I'm pretty sure the students didn't actually take the time to watch their video performances. There's no gaming the system with Acclaim. Their comments are linked directly to the performance segment under construction. I've been pleased so far. I highly recommend that you look into using Acclaim in your programs.

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