Teaching Toolbox: CALI

By , February 21, 2011 5:50 pm

by Philippe Cloutier

The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) database offers a range of lessons catering to law students’ learning needs. As a librarian resource, CALI is considered a good method for getting us up to speed on a new practice group, legal field or concept, etc.  And with AALL membership you receive free access to CALI lessons. It’s a powerful resource that is regularly updated and simple to use.

CALI deserves even greater consideration as a go-to tool for planning instruction sessions in your own library. CALI can supplement your planned session topic and offer further knowledge to ensure that you are covering areas pertinent to your topic. It can also function as a launching pad for finding a topic and developing new sessions. Furthermore, each lesson contains a “teacher’s guide,” breaking down the lesson and its questions and answers. A Virgil in your pocket so to speak.

The breadth of subject matter makes CALI ideal for any law library. A summer associate program may be interested in the following: Using Citators as Finding Tools; Current Awareness & Alerting Services; Fees; or Expert and Opinion Evidence. The general public may have potential interest in: Finding Statutes; Adoption; Alimony; or Custody Disputes. Likely contenders for the attention of experienced legal professional are: Evaluating Web Sites; Hold ’em, Fold ’em, Walk Away or Run: When to Stop the Search; Introduction to Foreign Legal Research; or Climate Change. Lastly, staying on top of CALI changes is made a little easier thanks to their two RSS feeds: CALI Spotlight (blog) and New Lessons.

Keep CALI in mind but make sure to evaluate other potential resources. Using CALI as a sole source and playing it on a projector for a mass audience would violate copyright. Dishonest actions aside, it would also make for an ineffective way to meet your organization’s specific needs. It may look like the biggest, most reliable hammer in the teaching toolbox, but it’s just one tool.

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