Since 2008, Deborah Craytor of the State Bar of Georgia had nurtured an ambition to extend the Bar’s educational programs beyond the physical bounds of the Museum of Law in Atlanta. The Bar had run the museum and hosted educational programs like the Journey Through Justice, which gives more than 10,000 Georgia schoolchildren the opportunity to learn about the law every year. The program includes law lessons, mock trials and tours of the museum. It has been a success, but the Bar found that the program’s popularity had led it to outgrow the capacity of the field trip and physical museum in Atlanta, leading the organization to pursue virtual alternatives for delivering the same information.
Using the LiveBinders platform (www.livebinders.com), the State Bar of Georgia was able to create digital resources that are easily shared on the Web with teachers, giving students throughout Georgia exposure to lessons on the law.
Taking the Journey Through Justice Beyond Atlanta
According to Deborah Craytor, the geography of Georgia has made it difficult to expose students outside Atlanta, and particularly in rural South Georgia, to the educational resources and programs offered by the Bar’s Law-Related Education (“LRE”) Program. Says Craytor, “We’re in Atlanta, where the largest concentration of lawyers in the state is. Lawyers and members of the public outside Atlanta sometimes feel like we don’t pay as much attention to them as we could. Reaching out with a digital version of our Museum of Law resources is a great way to help bridge that gap.”
When the Bar began to build the Virtual Museum of Law–which officially launched on June 3rd, 2016–inclusion of online resources for teachers was an essential part of the project, but the system had to be both readily adaptable and under the control of the teachers and the staff of the LRE Program. Says Craytor, “We want to have this information online and available to everyone, but we want to give teachers control; you don’t want students having access to the same materials so they run across all the answers! Also, we wanted to make sure that we’re interacting with teachers and gathering their input, not just putting a bunch of information out on the Web.”
LiveBinders & the Virtual Museum of Law
Craytor had been introduced to LiveBinders before the Bar created the Virtual Museum of Law, and when the need to securely share resources on the Web became an integral part of that project, she recognized LiveBinders as a natural fit. The platform could be easily integrated within the format of the Virtual Museum, and conform to the access and organization requirements of teachers and the Bar. LiveBinders allowed the Bar to create a multi-level experience for the Virtual Museum of Law that includes a public site, videos and quizzes for students, and lesson plans and other curriculum materials accessible only to teachers. LiveBinders is already a popular tool among teachers, due in no small part to its functionality, which brings the simplicity of using a three-ring binder to the digital world. According to Craytor, educators have found accessing LRE Program resources through LiveBinders to be straightforward, and an enormous improvement on the ad-hoc system previously in place. Says Craytor, “Before we started using LiveBinders, a teacher would call or email me and say ‘I’m getting ready to teach about juvenile justice, what can you send me?’ We’d look through our resources and email or mail them, which was incredibly labor-intensive. Now I can just keep the LiveBinders updated and teachers can access them any time they want.”
Staying Current on the Law
Sending lesson information as a digital LiveBinder also allows teachers to automatically receive the most up-to-date information on the law, which can change frequently. Before LiveBinders, when information was sent to a teacher, there was no way for teachers to know if their materials were out of date other than to check in with the Bar.
According to Craytor, the combination of Web access, version control and seamless updating of information, including a binder-like organizational format teachers are used to, exemplifies how LiveBinders is ideal for digital sharing. “The LiveBinders approach to organizing information is consistent with a trend in the digital world of leveraging curated collections. There is so much information on the Web that more and more organizations are trying to assemble collections rather than force people to look all over the internet for something. LiveBinders gives people a one-stop shop consistent with the direction the Web is going in general,” she says.
Paper-Attached Industries Can Embrace Digital
The legal world, like the world of education, is one steeped in the use of paper for most resources and documents. Organizations like the State Bar of Georgia have found that in addition to making communication and sharing information easier for programs like the LRE Program and its Virtual Museum of Law, the paper-document-mirroring nature of LiveBinders makes it easy for professionals like teachers and lawyers to reap the benefits of digital communications.
For Craytor personally, the platform has offered a way to go digital without compromising the organization and control of paper documents. She says, “Giving up my paper was a really hard thing to do. Intellectually I recognized the advantage of LiveBinders, but emotionally, I was tied to paper. However, we’ve found it incredibly useful and adaptable to our work, and now we’re moving as much as we can to LiveBinders.”