Information literacy in the UK, in Vienna

I’m presenting tomorrow in the University of Vienna at the Austrian Library conference on the topic of information literacy in the UK. I’ll be speaking about the work that the CILIP Information Literacy group are currently undertaking to get information literacy recognised outside higher education and the library sector. The group are funding 3 research projects that specifically explore IL in other sectors; a digital champions project in Newcastle public library, a study to explore the value of IL in the workplace and a project to explore the role of school libraries in developing young people’s political awareness. I’ll also be talking about the TeenTech Research and Information Literacy award which is being launched this month.

Closer to home, a key way of getting a wider understanding of what information literacy is and why it matters has been through working with students as partners at LSE, on the Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy project. I will say a little about this project and you might ask why we call it digital literacy? Well terminology does matter and while I might understand it as information literacy, I’ve found the term digital literacy has had far more resonance with academic staff and with students. So I will conclude with a brief talk about definitions, frameworks and some further reading. It’s great to be in Vienna this week, the weather is sunny and warm and the cakes are divine!

SADL up! developing digital literacy in LSE undergraduates 

Vienna: Heldenplatz by Duroy.George licensed under Creative Commons

Vienna: Heldenplatz by Duroy.George licensed under Creative Commons

For the past 2 years I have been managing the Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy project working with a relatively small group of LSE undergraduates to develop their digital literacy, for staff to learn from students about their needs and capabilities and to try to develop a peer support network for students. Last week we published the evaluation and impact study from the project. It is a hugely exciting time as we are now gearing up to open the programme across LSE to all undergraduates however we are still envisioning this as a peer support network so places will be limited to 50 students and we will be working much harder to provide them with the means to support their peers, for example by running digital literacy surgeries. We are also teaming up with a project for LSE Economics students to encourage them to use tablets and mobiles for note taking. Senior Ambassadors from SADL will provide support for this cohort. There is still a lot to do before term starts but I hope to be able to open the applications later today. Publicity will start from the week of the 21st September which is Welcome Week at LSE. We have recruited students to be on the Learning and Development Stand in the library foyer to promote SADL to their peers.

In the meantime I am heading to Vienna for the Austrian library conference (Österreichischer Bibliothekartag 2015). I’ll be speaking about information and digital literacy in the UK and highlighting SADL as a successful student partnership project. I definitely feel we are at the start of what I know is going to be an exciting but challenging year. I have so many questions flying around, such as what if too many students apply? What if none do? Have we over promised? How to cope with students from so many different disciplines? But based on the experiences of the last two years SADL is really making a difference and providing LSE students with digital literacies the feel help them in their studies, their future careers and their personal lives, and these are things they wouldn’t have got from elsewhere. It’s been tremendously powerful for the staff involved in SADL who feel more connected with LSE undergraduates and understand more about their research behaviour and use of social media.  So before the horse bolts from the stable, I’m taking a deep breath and off to sample the delights of Vienna.

Copyright Literacy on the 1709 Blog

Spiderman and the skeletonFor those in the copyright and IP field you are probably familiar with the 1709 Blog. 1709 is the year the first copyright act came into force in the UK and the blog has a series of contributors, and a great source of copyright stories. Chris has written a post on our Copyright Literacy work on this blog which went live yesterday, and due to some Twitter error I’ve been unable to tweet a link to the post, so I am adding it to my blog and tweeting the link from there. I will not be foiled by technology!

Don’t just copy: copy it right!

Don't just copy: copy it right! In a few weeks time LSE will be rolling out a fleet on new MFDs (multi-functional devices) that allow printing, photocopying and scanning and I have been advising the project team on copyright issues. As part of this project my lovely colleagues in the IMT Comms team, Jessica and Niamh have helped me develop a range of new publicity materials to promote copyright education across the School including posters, postcards and fortune cookies! Yes seriously we have fortune cookies with helpful reminders about copyright inside them!

This MFD project coincides with the copyright education ‘mission’ I’ve launched with Chris Morrison from the University of Kent. I’ve previously reported on our survey of copyright literacy among UK librarians and related professionals but we really are on a mission, which will involve a presentation and a full paper at ECIL 2015 in Tallinn in October. Last week we wrote a blog post on why copyright is a fundamental part of digital and information literacy which was published on the CILIP blog.  If you’ve not read it yet then please do and let me know what you think. I have never understood why copyright is perceived as being dry, boring and all about telling people what they can’t do. Chris and I are trying to change people’s perceptions about copyright and to equip them with the knowledge and skills to understand copyright and licensing and see this knowledge as empowering – and a really important part of being information literate.

We worked together earlier this year to develop a new game-based approach to copyright education which has been transforming my copyright training sessions. I’ve never had so much interest in my copyright training workshops and in just under 2 months will have had almost 50 people from LSE attend the revamped games based sessions! Tomorrow afternoon there is another opportunity for LSE staff to play Copyright the Card Game as part of an IMT Tech Talk. I’ve adapted some of the scenarios hopefully to make them more relevant for my colleagues in IT for tomorrow’s session and of course they will get fortune cookies.

I also have new guides to Copyright for LSE staff ready this weekend I’ve been updating my copyright webpages. I’m also really pleased with my new strapline for the publicity material – don’t just copy – copy it right!

Northumbria Conference on Performance Measurement

Pumpkin Patch Kid

Pumpkin Patch Kid by richard evea licensed under Creative Commons from:

Earlier this week I attended the Northumbria Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services. I have to confess to being a little skeptical that it was my ‘cup of tea’ but Chris Morrison, had suggested we submit a paper here, based on the Copyright Literacy Survey results.  I just decided to go for the day, so I only had a taste of what the conference was about, but I really enjoyed it. I also felt that it tied in a lot with work I’m doing at LSE to measure the impact of not just copyright training, but wider digital literacy programmes. I am currently trying to finalise the evaluation and impact study of the SADL Programme for LSE undergraduates. As well as traditional metrics and a survey, this year we collected a lot of data through interviews with our student ambassadors, Senior Ambassadors and with staff involved in the programme.

The conference emphasised the need to be able to demonstrate (in a measurable way) how you are making an impact, whether it’s teaching digital literacy or copyright, or your services. I can see myself following up many of the papers afterwards and browsing through the programme I spotted many papers on days I wasn’t at the conference that I would have loved to attend that focused on the tricky aspect of how you measure impact when it’s about learning.

This was the first time to talk publicly about the Copyright Literacy Survey, so exciting for Chris and I. We had over 600 librarians and related professionals complete the survey in the UK and we’ve found some really interesting comparisons with those in different sectors (academic, public, schools etc.) and with the other four countries that have supplied data so far (France, Croatia, Bulgaria and Turkey). Our slides are on Slideshare.

Some of the most interesting findings were contained in the qualitative data, which focused on what librarians want to know about copyright during their professional qualifications and for CPD. I’ve included our slides below, but I am fascinated about the ‘fear’ that copyright can bring about (amongst usually competent professionals!) and the way that we need to teach copyright in a positive way. I used the analogy that it was like feeding vegetables to children and the need to embed copyright in teaching, as I’ve tried to do in the TiDA programme. The LSE IMT Comms team have also suggested that we produced copyright fortune cookies to tie in with our launch of the new scanner / photocopiers at LSE. So little messages reminding you of copy ‘rights and wrongs’ hidden inside the cookie. I love it!

Teaching an online course: embedding digital copyright

Isle of Wight sunriseI’ve had a busy few weeks with my regular job, various Information Literacy Group tasks, copyright-related projects, and no less than three external events: APT in Greenwich, the CILIP Conference in Liverpool and a UnionLearn meeting where I spoke about IL. On top of this I have spent the last 6 weeks running an online course, Teaching in a Digital Age (TIDA). I followed the 23 Things for Libraries courses that ran several years ago at Cambridge and at Oxford. I wanted to launch one at that time at LSE for teaching staff, and so to get the opportunity to do this for my International Programmes secondment has been fascinating, a lot of fun and a real learning experience for me. I have over 20 students on the course from India, Malta, Malaysia and the UK. Every Monday and Friday I’ve been scheduling the new blog posts to go live and sending emails to gently encourage students to stay engaged. The most difficult part of the course, aside from the rather fast pace, has been keeping up with the students’ blogs! I wondered if they would take to blogging, but the vast majority really seem to have got stuck in! You can see all the students listed on the TIDA blogroll.

I have to say, the week I was most excited about was teaching them about Creative Commons and finding open educational resources, and to many of the teachers it seems to have been a real eye opener. And what a great way to demonstrate that understanding about copyright and licenses is a fundamental part of being a digital teacher. I’ve collected together some of the posts from the teachers on this topic below, as I think reading their reflections say a lot about how to teach copyright to academics – make it relevant, timely and straightforward, but most of all embed it in the course!

The course continues for another week – this week’s topic is managing information and getting organised exploring tools such as Dropbox, Evernote, Zotero and the concept of tagging.

TeenTech awards

Geoff Walton, Rebecca Jones and Darren Flynn at the TeenTech Awards 2015

Geoff Walton, Rebecca Jones and Darren Flynn at the TeenTech Awards 2015

On Monday I attended the TeenTech finals at the Royal Society to judge a new award launched this year as part of this exciting science, technology and innovation initiative open to all UK schools. TeenTech is led by Maggie Philbin, star of the popular BBC TV show from the 1980s Tomorrow’s World and we met back in January to discuss a report she had written on digital skills.

Through our discussions where I talked about the work I do at LSE and through my professional involvement in the CILIP Information Literacy Group, Maggie and I came up with the idea of a new TeenTech award to recognise the Research and Information Literacy skills of the students work, building on the idea of Isaac Newton that all good science is built by ‘standing on the shoulders of giants.’ I have read a lot recently about the digital skills gap and I think becoming overly focused on technical skills such as computer programming is only part of the story. It’s information literacy skills that are also needed to enable young people to be critical and discerning about the information they trust. And they need to understand about the ways to use and share information ethically to avoid plagiarism or infringing copyright.

I was one of four judges for the new TeenTech award and was joined by Dr Geoff Walton from Northumbria University, Dr Rebecca Jones, school librarian from Malvern St James and Darren Flynn another school librarian from Dixons Academy in Bradford. We had to review all 40 of the finalist projects and had 12 schools to visit on the day. It was a tough decision as this year schools had not yet benefited from much guidance from our group of the expectations. In the end we had a stand-out winner in the form of Birkdale School from Sheffield for their wearable technology project. I joined comedian Katy Brand on the stage to present the award to the students. You can read the full list of award winners here and we were joined at the awards by HRH the Duke of York and various celebrities such as Martha Lane Fox, Dr Christian Jenssen, James May and Caroline Criado-Perez. I really liked how many girls were through to the finals too and was really impressed with the team from Alton Convent School who won the People’s Choice award for their military medical shuttle.

I took away from the day that with a bit of guidance and encouragement its relatively easy to develop IL in project based work at school level, but it should become standard to expect students to list their sources from an early age. It was also clear that we still have a digital divide, not in technology but in access to high quality research. Two of the projects we spoke to mentioned they got access to journals only because they have a parent who worked at a  university who could give them access. That is unfair and I hope next year through a network of collaboration we can work to address that imbalance, so all the schools who participate in TeenTech might be able to get access to high quality resources to underpin their work.

I’m inspired by my day at the TeenTech awards and also hopeful for the future of UK science and technology. I am also so pleased that CILIP ILG and librarians are involved in such a fabulous initiative! And all hats off to Maggie for trying to make tomorrow’s world a better place.