By: Todd Etshman//March 19, 2012
By: Todd Etshman//March 19, 2012//
Earlier this year, educational text book publisher Cengage rolled out a new educational tool for college students called the KnowNow Blog.
The blog’s authors are three prominent attorney author/teachers from around the country, including Brighton Town Justice and Monroe Community College Professor Karen Morris.
Morris suggested the blog several years ago, but Cengage representatives weren’t sure how to sell it at the time.
“Fast forward three years. Cengage found a way to monetize it,” said Morris, who has taught law related courses at MCC for some 30 years.
As Cengage Editor Vicky True explained, the blog is part of a package of learning devices accompanying a textbook to help students master concepts in undergraduate law courses, such as Business Law, Introduction to Law, and The Legal Environment of Business.
Students with a Cengage textbook can purchase the ancillary learning tools including the blog for $10. The additional learning tools are part of the publisher’s CourseMate product line.
“What this does is give them an extension of the application of the course material and one that is relevant to their world,” Morris explained. “It helps them understand the world around them when they can appreciate stories at a broader more substantive level.”
Cengage paired Morris with Arizona State University Professor Marianne Jennings and University of Texas at Arlington Professor Roger Meiners. One of the three authors posts every weekday on a relevant topic with questions to help students understand the issue.
True said the blog is designed to connect course material to the real world and to help students understand the relevance of business law in their lives.
“I think it provides a great service to students,” Morris explained. “One of the benefits is that it illustrates the application of a rule of law that we’re studying in class.”
Morris and her blog colleagues all have a significant writing background in addition to being professors and lawyers. She recently wrote “Law Made Fun Through Harry Potter’s Adventures” and is finishing up the eighth edition of her college textbook, “Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Law.”
Meiners wrote “The Legal Environment of Business” for Cengage and Jennings is a syndicated columnist and law review editor.
Topics for the blog are varied and include modern day events and the law behind them such as Justin Bieber’s paternity case, movie copyright laws, infancy as a defense to school shootings, and the right of a protest group to camp at a municipal park.
“My goal is to summarize a current events story, identify the legal issues and explain the law that is relevant to the article,” Morris said.
Morris said she tries to compose questions that require students to analyze and think about what they’ve read. Material for the blog can come easily or it may take some digging, but it is fun to scour the news for the right topic, Morris explained.
Legal blogs may be common, but Morris said she knows of no other blog that focus on the law behind the news for students in the undergraduate college age group.
“The underlying issues are issues that we talk about in class and would test for,” Morris explained.
Her most recent post is about the importance of having a good partnership agreement using the example of a New Jersey office lottery pool. A member of the pool won $77 million, but claimed he used his own money to purchase the ticket not the group’s pooled money. The judge in the case ruled for the pool members.
“All partnership agreements, even among friends, should be in writing and address in detail each partner’s obligations and rights,” Morris wrote in the blog. “When the agreement is created, consider all the possible circumstances that could go wrong and include in the agreement a way to amicably resolve such situations.”
More information on Morris and her writing may be found at www.judgekaren.com.
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