November 7, 2011
Creating Video Tutorials of Today's Online Search Services: The example of Fastcase endorsing best practice videos authored by law librarians
Got to hand it to Fastcase for calling attention to video tutorials created by law librarians:
We recently came across a series of well-crafted Fastcase Video Tutorials created by our partners at the Jenkins Law Library. We were impressed with their work and we think you will be too.
Based on this statement plus my personal experience with some of the folks at Fastcase, I'm assuming the Jenkins Law Library is the independent author of the tutorials listed below. They were intended for the Jenkins Law Library's Fastcase user population. The videos take a no nonsense approach to the topics covered. The fairly visible hand of product promotion offered in some vendors' in-house tutorials is not seen here. One may say Fastcase has "adopted" these videos because they have been endorsed as "best practices in Fastcase search."
I'm thinking the folks at WestlawNext, Lexis Advance, Bloomberg Law and IntelliConnect might learn something about providing law librarian created video tutorials of their very expensive online legal search services that are not tainted by their marketing departments. My hunch is there are law librarians "out there" willing to do this for free (except for waiver of any search charges) to help fill in the huge gaping hole in reliable instructional materials for those new search services.
The glitch here, however, is law librarians have to understand how the search engines work. The crux of that matter is that today's search engines embed propretary information. My suggestion to very expensive online legal search vendors is that they reveal enough of that information to law library staffers who are willing to author their independently produced tutorial videos.
No one is under the illusion that the recipes for the secret sauces of the unseen algorithms are going to be disclosued by our vendors to the public at large. However, only the naive will believe vendor claims about "how great" their new SEs work. And vendor published testimonials are simply absurd. Further, no one is going to believe vendor hand-picked law librarians for some wacky sort of testimonial "tutorial" video series.
There is a fairly simple solution for starting to address the problem of vendor SE programming gurus knowing how today's crop of SEs work while their user populations don't. If law librarians offer to create a series of "best practices" videos, offer them sufficient details of the secret sauce under a NDA. Then let them create their video tutorials with the sole restriction that the secret sauce cannot be explained in specificity in the videos they produce. At least this would be a step in the right direction.
In the Fastcase tutorial videos that were produced by Jenkins Law Library, my favorite is the one that goes over Fastcase's Authority Check feature. I doubt the Jenkins Law Library staff were given the secret sauce but Fastcase has provided enough of a description of how Authority Check works already, at least for my aging and decrepit brain to understand (perhaps not so for must smarter law librarians who specialize in legal research).
For folks who want some no nonsense video tutorials on Fastcase, see below. For vendors of very expensive online search, the challenge is open to them to let some sunlight in by what I consider would be a "best practices" for independent development of tutorial videos by law librarians based on the terms and conditions above. Reasonable?
Jenkins Law Library Video Series as described by Fasecase
- In part one, get the basics on the next generation of legal research offerings within the Fastcase database and where to start based on your search requirements. It's a great refresher course!
- In part two, learn the basics of a Boolean keyword and natural language search to yield more accurate search results.
- In part three, learn how to get the most of the results page using Fastcase's smarter sorting tools.
- In part four, learn about viewing a case and generating an Authority Check report to find later citing cases.
OK, I know, Fastcase couldn't resist the urge to toss in some promotional language in their brief descriptions of the videos but ... that's as far as that goes. All of the videos can be viewed on Fastcase from this link. [JH]