On copyright, respect and giving credit where it’s due

Jane in a fireballI want to write a blog post to follow up my pre-conference post. I don’t want some sort of self congratulatory ramble but I thought it might be helpful to write about how I prepared the talk and to reflect on that. In essence I did almost everything different to what I might usually do when preparing a presentation and that meant it felt very different to anything I’d done before. But I also want to thank everyone who helped me along the way, but in particular to acknowledge the help and support from my co-author, friend and research partner, Chris Morrison. When we are not mucking about playing copyright games or showing off about who knows the most about Star Wars (it’s me by the way), we’ve had some pretty good chats about education, copyright and the role of technology over the last year or so, and many of the ideas from the talk feel like they came together, in hopefully what wasn’t a large unattributed mush, last Thursday. For those who haven’t seen it, the recording is on You Tube. According to my lovely brother, my greatest critic, I sound rather nervous at the start and he still isn’t sure if he can or can’t copy an image off the internet. I promise if you watch the recording, I do get warmed up, and in answer to Dan’s question, it depends!

I got the invitation to present at ALT-C on 24th March, it was over Easter and shortly after meeting Nic Whitton and Alex Moseley at LILAC in Dublin. Well that was a memorable conference if only for learning how many straws one person could put up their nose and why lilac coloured cocktails are a bad idea. I had spent a fair amount of time with them both as they gave a joint keynote and were at the conference all 3 days. But the invite left me speechless, just for a moment and petrified! From that moment on it was on my mind as I wanted to do a really good job.

I was at the time putting the finishing touches to the proofs of Chris and my recent book, Copyright and E-learning, and so it immediately seemed this should be the topic for the talk, but in the first set of notes I sketched out I had an idea that I wanted to talk about information literacy and social justice and somehow link that to copyright. I started off with doodles of all the random ideas I might include. I recall spending an afternoon in the pub waffling on to a techy friend about these ideas and not getting too far. However one of the first things I did was to buy myself a beautiful notebook to write down all these ideas as they were occurring to me.

I then decided to started reading up on how to give a great speech. The video by Chris Anderson, founder of Ted Talks was really helpful here. Next up I had an opportunity to try out some ideas as Chris and I were invited, on the back of the book, to give a keynote at the DIT E-learning summer school in June. It was a great opportunity to plan a talk, which was largely based on key ideas from the book. However this dry run also gave me plenty of ideas of how not to approach the ALT keynote. Firstly I wanted a really simple clear message and to focus on big ideas rather than detail. I also concluded that as this would be my keynote, I really needed to own it and make it mine. Again I read up on how you do this and the main idea seemed to be about making it ‘your story.’ That meant putting something of myself into it, which upped the stakes and started to make me more scared.

Two events in July gave me further ideas of how to approach the talk. The first was our book launch, where I decided to write a speech, largely to avoid forgetting to thank everyone! And then a LIS-copyseek event where I agreed to say a few words about Laurence Bebbington, who was a member of the UUK Copyright Working Group and sadly passed away over the summer. Again I decided to write a speech as I wanted to get my words right. The whole writing a speech thing helped enormously in those two occasions so seemed the way to go.

Some of you may have read my earlier blog post on my writing retreat at Wolfson College. This was where I wrote most of the keynote as a script. Chris suggested I forget entirely about visuals until the end but during the writing process ideas of useful images kept occurring to me, so I did start making a few slides. But essentially by mid August I had a rough outline speech and I refined it over the next few weeks largely by reading it to a trusted few. This led to some new ideas being added but mainly I was trying to cut it down and learn it and check it made sense. Only then did I finish my slides, which were images largely to illustrate points I was making. And then I practiced reading it many times, thanks to Tim, my mum, my step-dad and Chris for listening to it until they were probably bored senseless.

I wanted to try to convey something of me and my passion for information literacy and copyright education. But that did leave me feeling vulnerable and finding the Ted Talk by Brene Brown was another key moment for me. Largely because empathy was already a big theme in the talk and she really illuminated what this means. However, finding this talk was in many ways luck, as I had recently subscribed to the RSA talks on You Tube and stumbled across Brene Brown here. Similarly, the other book that influenced a lot of my thinking, Rethinking Copyright by Ronan Deazley, I borrowed from LSE Library, partly because I thought it might help me mug up on the history of copyright, which it did, but it was his ideas around copyright as a human right and the curtailment of the public domain that really chimed with me.

So looking back now, I don’t think any presentation will ever be quite so difficult to prepare, or take so long. I feel I have an approach that works if someone ever asks me to keynote again. I learnt to trust my instinct with big ideas and bringing in my own stories. No I don’t think the talk was perfect, but I’ve watched about 10 minutes and I liked it. I think the audience did too judging by the tweets on the day and the hugs I got at the end. My proudest moment was probably when Lorna Campbell said “I never knew copyright could be so emotional’ during the questions, oh and my colleague Sonja drew a beautiful picture of me and said I nearly made her cry. As I said in my talk, I didn’t get there on my own. I had a lot of help, support and people who believed in me. Many of the ideas I talked about feature in Chris and my book and he helped me enormously. But many of my friends and colleagues gave me help and support and I know that is a privilege and one I want to use to help others. Fear can hold us back from doing things in life, things that are new, things that involve risk, things that might expose us to criticism, but as Brene Brown says, if we clad our heart in iron it means we don’t build trust and connections. And sometime we just have to take a leap of faith. So I say bring on the next challenge! I’m ready!

Of dreams and nightmares and vulnerability

IMG_5301Next week I’ll keynote the Association for Learning Technology’s annual conference – ALT-C. Yes I hear you say, so what, big deal, Jane you do talks all the time. Hmmm yes, right I do, but this one is big (450 people coming this year), and a lot of my friends and colleagues attend. And I’m a keynote, up there with some pretty big names – Ian Livingstone no less, but also Josie Fraser, Donna Lanclos, Dave White and Lia Commissar. It’s fair to say I have been nervous about this since I was invited by Nic Whitton in early April. Nervous, but also slightly thrilled at being given the opportunity to do a keynote and to challenge myself. It’s really easy to stay in our comfort zone and talk to audiences we know, about projects we’ve worked on, to relatively small, friendly audiences. That is not to say ALT-C is not a conference I’m unfamiliar with. I’ve attended about 4 or 5 times since I started working in the learning technology field back in 2000. I also do know lots of learning technologists – after all I work with them every day! I can speak their language. However, I’m going to talk to them about copyright and I need to try and get them fired up about it!

In reality I have only had one nightmare, which I joked about last week on twitter. In my dream the podium was too high, the audience couldn’t hear me over some revving cars and the clicker wasn’t working so my slides kept switching at the wrong time. Nothing can be as bad as our nightmares.

So the keynote is written, the slides are finished, the credits have been done and my outfit is chosen and packed. I now just need to get myself in the zone. I’m planning some Amy Cuddy style power posing, a bit of loud 1980s music to get me in the mood (Eye of the Tiger!) and not over-doing it the night before at the conference dinner. Fear of failure is what often stops people doing something new or different. Even down to the way I prepared for this talk I’ve tried a different approach. And I’m also prepared for it not going perfectly. Afterall, as Brene Brown says, we are not perfect, we are human and vulnerability is essential to making connections with others. So if you see me this week and I look a bit distracted, now you know why. Feel free to give me a hug or a thumbs up! But I will come through this, I will enjoy it and I know I’ll make some mistakes and learn a lot. Roll on keynote number 2 eh?

Copyright is collaborative

Giving copyright advice has always been something I relish, getting stuck into a new copyright conundrum is a great way of learning about new aspects of copyright and building up my knowledge. I am also grateful to the wonderful network of copyright officers I have built up over the years, so when I get a new query I am unsure of I turn to my copyright community. However, one thing I have always been aware of is that answering so many colleagues queries on an individual basis doesn’t always foster a sense of community. So when Chris reported on his successful Copyright Community of Practice events at the University of Kent, I did what we all do when we see a good idea, I decided to copy it!

Last week we had the first event at LSE and I was delighted to have 11 colleagues attend, including library staff, communications staff (who were all mainly blog editors) and a learning technologist. The topics we had up for discussion were the purpose of the Community of Practice, the new CLA Licence and the Digital Content Store, the digitisation of an important collection of EU Referendum leaflets at LSE and the copyright implications and the recent audit of one department’s Moodle courses by one of our Learning Technologists. Other topics raised during our discussions were: how to cite images licensed under Creative Commons and what the different licences all actually mean, what to do about including screenshots in guides we might be producing in-house, for example when they contain company logos. We also discussed open access and why academic colleagues often don’t think about the copyright transfer agreements they sign, whether pre-prints in word format could be uploaded to Moodle or not and a few other topics. I was delighted by the suggestion from Chris Gilson to write some guidance on copyright for blog editors. I had a search around and most of what I found is American. We also had some suggestions of topics to discuss at the next meeting which we hope to hold at the end of September.

And we had biscuits and tea and I can confirm that LSE staff prefer Jammy Dodgers on a hot August afternoon rather than any chocolate coated biscuits!

A writing and thinking retreat

The gardens at Wolfson College

This week I spent 3 days in Cambridge at Wolfson College, which was the college I lived at for a term in 2011 when I was an Arcadia Fellow. This was one of the most amazing few months of my life, as not only did I get to work for 3 months on thinking about how information literacy should be taught in the future, but I got to work with the fabulous Emma Coonan.

I recall being pretty terrified about being away from home  and spent most weekends fleeing back to London. But I found Wolfson a friendly, welcoming place and somewhere I immediately felt at home. I particularly enjoyed meeting all the other students and fellows from around the world. I made some fantastic friends during my time there and probably had some of the most memorable breakfast conversations ever. I will never forget the breakfast where I was joined by several international fellows who were staying at Wolfson, and we discussed the fall of the Roman Empire. There was a point I recall saying to the professor from Pakistan and the Malaysian Ambassador for the Lebanon, I think we could do with a PowerPoint with a map on it as we discussed Hadrian’s Wall and some of the Roman sites in the Middle East. I started listening to Radio 4’s Today Programme after I left Wolfson to try to recreate these high brow moments before I start my day. It’s just not the same.

This week the canteen was shut so I spent a lot of time on my own, although I did get to spend some time in the wonderful Library, chatting to the College Librarian Meg Westbury about information and digital literacy, our mutual research interests in online learning and phenomenography. I also went on a wonderful walk to The Orchard Tea Rooms in Grantchester and thought of my dear Brazilian friend, Cris, a journalist who was there for the same time as me and who I used to go walking with. I wandered in the beautiful gardens and spent a lot of time in my room writing and reading.

Rethinking Copyright by Ronan Deazley

The purpose of my trip was to try and nail my keynote for ALT-C, which is now in around 3 weeks time. I am so honoured to be invited to keynote this conference, but also slightly terrified as it’s a big conference and one that a lot of learning technologists attend. There was no pressure when I saw the other keynotes I was up against either: Dave White, Donna Lanclos, Josie Fraser, Ian Livingstone and Lia Commissar! I am going to be talking about copyright and e-learning, the subject of my new book, but I really want to make my keynote different to other talks I’ve done before. I started reading Ronan Deazely’s book, Rethinking Copyright while I was away, and have been struck by his writing on what copyright is (and isn’t) and the public domain. So if I can hint a little, then I might be saying something on the history of copyright and on the notion of the public domain. Ronan is the main editor behind the website CopyrightUser, and Chris and I recently wrote the guidance for libraries on this site.

Anyway, mostly what I appreciated while in Cambridge was some perspective on things and some time to concentrate on the subjects I am most interested in. I have spoken before about the importance of finding a place where you can think, and at Wolfson I have definitely found that place, and I was more productive in just three days there than I usually am in a week!

Finding your place

I was asked to make a video about tips for new researchers and I was taken back to thinking about a workshop Emma and I ran twice on doing research as a librarian. We talked about finding your niche and finding a place to think. When I talk about finding your place I mean both of those things. But I also think librarians struggle with their identity as a researcher (as I suspect many people do, undergraduate students for example). But librarians often spend a lot of time helping other people do research and providing ‘support’ when in reality they should be acknowledged as researchers. I am not sure why they are not, but I think changing your own attitude towards your identity might help. If we didn’t have libraries and librarians a huge amount of research would be impossible. We provide access to the literature, we hold archives of huge significance which we help people to navigate and interrogate. We are not just providing a support to the research process, we are underpinning it, we are providing the research with the foundations on which it stands. As we know, all research and ideas are built on things that have gone before. So finding your place is all about recognising, even if you think you don’t do research, as a librarian you probably do. Or as someone who provides specialist advice and support to others on information related issues, then you are in a pretty important place! A house won’t stay up without solid foundations. And good research has to be built on solid information and knowledge.

I think research can sometimes be an exclusive place that makes people feel they are not worthy. Even the language and methodologies, in fact any of the -ologies are horribly scary. That’s not to say anyone can just do research. There are things you need to do properly, like devising a decent research question – and one that can be answered! And finding an appropriate way to collect the data you need. It’s also important not to just go looking for evidence that backs up what you think is true. Having a critical friend with a different perspective to you can be really helpful here. However, for me finding your place is all about finding the topics that you are passionate about, so the research really matters to you. The best research projects I have worked on are ones where I feel like I am making a difference, or helping to develop something that will make a difference, even if just in a small way. And there are lots of different types of research, much of what I do has a really practical application. But that still doesn’t mean I don’t try to read some literature, see what others have done in the field, and develop a robust methodology. One example is the research I’ve been doing with Chris on librarians and copyright – what do they want to learn more about and what aspects of copyright cause them concern? And then let’s try and see what their experience of copyright as a phenomenon might tell us about how to improve things. This research helped us write the recent guidance for librarians on the Copyrightuser.org website. But it should also help us to develop and improve resources like Copyright the Card Game. So, I urge you to start thinking of yourself as a researcher and get out there and try to find your place where you can make a difference!

Conversing about copyright

I was lucky enough to record a podcast with James Clay earlier in the week which is now available from his website. He interviewed me and Chris Morrison as part of a series of podcasts that James records on issues related to e-learning. It wasn’t just a shameless plug for our forthcoming book Copyright and E-learning: a guide for practitioners or Copyright the CaPF_Fortune_Cookie_11062016195137885rd Game, it was great to talk about a range of issues related to copyright and how to approach the issues that using new technologies gives rise to. Some people might think copyright is boring and restrictive, however, have a listen to our podcast and hopefully see that understanding copyright is empowering and there are ways of teaching others about copyright which don’t involve sending people to sleep! It’s also important to think about embedding copyright good practices into the range of training available in your institution and teaching it in a positive way about what people can do. And of course as people who know me know, I do love conversing about copyright, and eating cookies and cake, and talking about Star Wars parodies. It’s all in the podcast and it’s not long until the book is published either! I’ll also be heading to Dublin in just over a week to talk about Copyright and E-learning and play Copyright the Card Game at the DIT E-learning Summer School.

Joining up the dots: copyright and digital literacy

Globe in Austrian National LibraryLast week was a particularly hectic week for me and during the course of attending two events, I once again decided that my job title really does reflect what I do everyday. I often find I meet people who do half my job, I don’t mean they do half as much work as me, but they are a digital literacy advisor, or a copyright advisor and they might do something else as part of their role as well. However, I still find that people don’t seem to have made the link between those two things. But it has always made perfect sense to me, which was why I wrote a blog post for CILIP about it last year, and keep banging on about it to anyone who will listen.

On Tuesday I attended a Copyright Education Symposium, organised by the Intellectual Property Office and CREATe and various rightsholder / representatives from the creative industries, such as PRS, who have a vested (economic) interest in teaching the wider public to respect copyright. I’m going to write a longer blog post on this event on the UK Copyright Literacy website. However, this event brought together a range of people who have probably rarely been in the same room at the same time and who probably have some quite different motivations for being interested in copyright education. The message I wanted to get across was that if the IPO were serious about copyright education then they needed to reframe it as part of digital literacy / digital capabilities, as not only has there been some concerted efforts from Jisc, the QAA and from government in this, it is really the only way it will make sense to people. If you are learning to be creative and innovative, you will need to use other people’s ideas, so an understanding of copyright, like other ethical issues, such as plagiarism has always been part of what librarians try to teach others. Copyright education taught in isolation that focuses on trying to convince people copyright infringement is bad, is probably not going to be very effective in my view. However, copyright education is far more likely to be adopted by teachers if it’s framed in this wider context, and there are a lot of opportunities to enlist librarians in helping in this approach.

On Wednesday and Thursday I was at the UCISA Spotlight event on Digital Capabilities. The first event last year focused on students’ digital literacies and this event focused on staff. The group are largely IT Trainers and learning technologists and as someone who has run a digital literacy programme for staff for 10 years or so, I was invited to speak on ‘Developing digital scholarship and information literate staff.‘ I reflected on how our programme at LSE was taught collaboratively with librarians and learning technologists and how much of the digital literacies were in fact information literacy. it was great to be part of a panel in the afternoon of the second day. Speakers on the day included James Clay, Helen Beetham, David Walker, Ellie Russell, Sarah Knight, Sue Watling, Fiona Handley among others. Terms like digital literacy really do have the potential to bring together professionals from all parts of a university. However I was struck that we do often stay in our silos. I infiltrated my slides with only a passing reference to copyright, in a reversal of Tuesday’s event, however I was struck by how many people then seemed to echo my point that knowledge of copyright and what you can share was a key part of digital capabilities. Helen Beetham was a pains to point out her image of Gandalf on her slides was licensed under Creative Commons. She also made the incredibly important point, that getting it wrong in an online space can expose us and damage our reputation. James Clay made similar points on the first day, and he’s spoken to me several times about wanting to make a ‘copyright lens’ for the digital capabilities framework.

However, for someone who has been championing information literacy for more years than I care to remember, I do find ‘digital literacies’ has something of the ’emperor’s new clothes’. Yes digital is important, and has acted as a catalyst, but I think we could do much to focus on the other literacies we want staff and students to develop, much of which, in my view are about how they find, use, manage and create knowledge and information. I’ve just made a video for the CILIP Information Literacy Group’s ‘Why Infolit’ campaign. So I will end with that – yes digital matters, but it’s how we interact with information that really matters, and librarians have a lot they can offer in this field.