Canvas and H2O: a match-made in (online learning) heaven

Learning management system Canvas has been adopted by several of the schools at Harvard University, Harvard Law School included. Canvas makes classroom management tasks, such as messaging students, simple, and it also makes a great fit with H2O.


H2O’s playlist system for organizing materials makes sequencing content a breeze, while the annotator  allows text and cases to be easily edited and marked up by instructors. Linking to H2O from Canvas is effortless – the link could be put on the front page of the Canvas site, placed in the Announcements are or even in a Canvas module.

An additional benefit of using H2O to organize materials is that H2O is an open, publicly-accessible platform. No need for students to log in to view it, and no worries about the materials disappearing after the course is completed – the same playlist can continue to be used, or it can be cloned and modified for the next semester.

Create your own H2O account today and get started!

Logo used with permission from Instructure.

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The “Other” Open-Access Debate: Educational Resources

An engaging article on open education resources was recently tweeted by Google CEO Eric Schmidt – in it the authors explore the burden that the rising cost of textbooks have placed on students, the ways it hinders their learning and the extent – or lack thereof – that the open-access movement has focused on rectifying this.

Expensive, underutilized textbooks often build a barrier between both the instructor and students. The students begrudge the expectation that they purchase a pricy text that feels more a boondoggle than essential resourceand the students and the educational success, with many students purchasing older versions of the texts to save money or deciding to not purchase one at all.

As the article notes, many STEM texts are predominantly composed of public research, but nonetheless carry price-tags of $250 dollars or more. Similarly, legal textbooks, or ‘casebooks,’ being composed almost entirely of public materials has led H2O to focus on them: as much of the text is already public domain but nonetheless published in texts costing $150 or more, incorporating them into an open, flexible digital platform was a foregone conclusion.


Read more on open education resources here – then check out H2O here!


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New Materials on H2O: Jackson, Barr and Tahyar’s Financial Regulation: Law and Policy

Harvard Law School professor Howell Jackson, along with Michael S. Barr and Margaret E. Tahyar, recently authored a new text on the law and policy surrounding financial regulation. This text examines today’s financial sector, as its been shaped by the Financial Crisis and the reforms that followed.

The authors are using H2O to host the online supplements to their text. H2O allows them to continually update the book in response to developments and add additional teacher materials, with the playlist tracking the organization of the casebook.

Try out H2O yourself by creating a free account at!

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Corporations Casebook, Printed on demand from H2O

This summer, in conjunction with Professor Spamann’s staff (as well as Berkman-Klein intern Kate Mays), the H2O team exported Prof. Spamann’s Corporations Playlist from H2O and undertook the legwork necessary to insert it into a design program and format it for print-on-demand.

We’re proud to present the end product- pictured below!

While a not-negligible amount of man hours were necessary to produce this, we’re working on streamlining this process. The end goal is to make the steps between exporting playlist and printing book as few as possible.

Watch this space for more on this front!

Interested in turning a playlist of your own into a print-on-demand version? Shoot us an email at h2o[at] and let’s discuss!

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New content on H2O! Samuel Moyn’s International Law and Human Rights course

With assistance from the H2O team, HLS professor Samuel Moyn has uploaded the materials for his International Law and Human Rights course, including case law, articles, and international organizations’ documents.

The materials for his course can be found here.

Interested in using H2O to upload your own course materials? Reach out to the H2O team at h2o[at], or create an account today!


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Syllabus-only content on H2O: Bruce Mann

With the wide range of law courses taught across the US, instructors having insight into how their peers structure their own courses can have significant pedagogical utility. H2O is a great way for faculty to be able to view syllabi of their compatriots.

One example is Prof. Bruce Mann, who teaches, among other courses, Property at Harvard Law School. While H2O isn’t his primary method of delivering materials to his students, his Property syllabus structure is on H2O, for others to view, interpret, and if they like, clone in H2O.

See Professor Mann’s Property syllabus structure here.

Questions or thoughts? contact the team at!


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Multimedia playlist on H2O: Chris Bavitz

Many instructors use H2O’s database of court decisions to compile a playlist that mirrors a customary casebook; others have taken advantage of H2O being a web-based platform, such as  Harvard Law School instructor, Chris Bavitz. He has utilized H2O for his Music and Digital Media course. The Introduction section of his playlist demonstrates the range of items he draws on for this course:Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 7.11.09 PM

In just this one section, Professor Bavitz has included a self-annotated case (Eldred v Ashcroft), sections of U.S. Copyright Law, a section of Larry Lessig’s text Remix, as well as links to articles on Huffington Post, New York Times, and Salon, as well as videos on YouTube and the PBS website.

Creating items to add to a playlist, such as the YouTube video used by Professor Bavitz, is very simple. After creating an account, you can click ‘Create,” select “video”:
Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 11.37.13 AM

enter the video title, and paste in the embed code copied from the YouTube video (see below):Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 11.40.43 AMThis creates a media item (video) that, when clicked, appears embedded in H2O:

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 6.33.36 PM

Interesting in learning more? Visit to create a free account or email us at h2o[[at]

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H2O Doc export: Word Styles

When an H2O playlist or item is exported as a Word document, the exported .doc file comes with “Word styles” already added to the document for use. (A style is a set of formatting characteristics, such as font name, size, color, paragraph alignment and spacing.)

Through the use of Word styles, you can quickly and easily apply a set of formatting choices consistently throughout your document. H2O’s .doc exports include styles that already correspond to areas in the document, ex. “Item description,” “Playlist title,” “Annotated text” etc.

By right-clicking on a specific style in the Word header, you can modify that style (for example, by changing text color to red):

and that change will apply to all text that falls within that style:Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 7.34.02 PM

Note: Word styles are applied to the document upon export, based off the HTML tags of the particular items- cases, text blocks – within it. Not all items in H2O have identical HTML, meaning that while Word styles will successfully apply to the majority of items in an export, there may be some outliers that must be manually changed to reflect what’s changed when a Word style is modified.

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Jonathan Zittrain’s H2O-made Torts Casebook

Having built his Torts Playlist on H2O, Prof. Jonathan Zittrain was interested in converting that work into a physical casebook. Utilizing H2O’s new export feature and with the assistance of Jordi Weinstock and Samantha Bates, edited cases and commentary were pulled out of H2O and, after some additional formatting work, a casebook was created & printed for Prof. Zittrain’s 1L course at Harvard Law School.

“Torts!” was printed by a local on-demand service and is a hit with Professor Zittrain’s 1L students. This is an exciting project to see come to fruition, as the casebook was created for free in H2O, and being able to create print-on-demand books one of the goals of H2O’s continually-improving export feature.


Interesting in learning more? Visit to create a free account or email us at h2o[[at]]

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