Developing digital literacies in staff and students: a TEL Seminar in Sussex

Today I was delighted to visit the University of Sussex to give a seminar in their Technology Enhanced Learning Seminar series. Dr David Walker is the head of TEL at Sussex and we first met in May when we both spoke at the UCISA Digital Capabilities event. This led me to invite David to speak at the ILG / MMiT joint event on Digital libraries and digital literacies one day event held in August.

Today I gave a similar talk to the one I had given at the UCISA event, reflecting on over 10 years of running a digital literacy programme at LSE, the lessons learnt and challenges, and the importance of collaboration, which in our case is between the librarians and learning technologists and working with students as partners. My slides are below, but it was great to meet staff at Sussex and some old friends from the library. I had a chance to talk about the importance to embed copyright literacy and the use innovative approaches to learning such as games. And of course I spoke about information literacy and the importance of using technologies in a critical way. After the session we recorded a short podcast and I look forward to hearing this and the recording of the event.


ECIL in Prague: copyright literacy and digital inclusion

Jane on the Charles BridgeI’m really excited to be presenting at the European Conference on Information Literacy which this year is being held in Prague from 10th -14th October. This is the fourth conference and I’ve been lucky enough to attend every year since the conference started in 2013 in Istanbul. I went to Dubrovnik in 2014, Tallinn in 2015 and this year I am in Prague. The focus of the conference is information literacy, and many papers address issues related to digital literacy as well. It’s a European conference but in fact people come from all over the world, so it’s a fantastic place to get a global perspective on the work I do at LSE to support staff and students develop their digital literacy. The conference also has a strong link with the work I do to provide support and education in copyright matters. This year there are nearly 300 delegates from over 50 countries with just 19 from the UK. The conference theme is about information literacy in the inclusive society and we’ve had keynotes from Tara Brabazon and Jan Van Dijk.

I am presenting twice at the conference, firstly in a panel session that was held on Monday, based on outreach and advocacy work I do as Chair of the CILIP Information Literacy Group (ILG). My co-presenters were Sharon Wagg from the Tinder Foundation, who are a charity who work to promote digital inclusion, and Stephane Goldstein, who as well as being a freelance consultant, is the Advocacy and Outreach Officer for the ILG. In our panel we discussed some recent collaborations between librarians in academic sector with those in public libraries, to share their experiences of helping to develop digital literacies and promote digital inclusion. The TeachMeet events ILG and Tinder Foundation organised earlier in the year were a great way that academic and public librarians could share ideas and experience. I was delighted that two colleagues from LSE Library, Andra Fry and Sonia Gomes, attended one of these events in February to share our experiences from the Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy (SADL) programme we were running for three years, to support LSE undergraduates. The panel discussion encouraged participants to share any digital inclusion initiatives they were involved in around the world. We also discussed what made these collaborations successful and why there might be problems and challenges working in this space. Sharon highlighted the Tinder Foundation’s work with libraries through their digital inclusion fund and it was inspiring to hear about work to support the most vulnerable in society, such as the elderly, job seekers and refugees develop basic and more advanced digital skills.

Astronomical clockECIL is also the spiritual home of copyright literacy, as this was where I first heard about the work of Tania Todorova and her colleagues to survey librarians on a country basis about their knowledge of copyright and requirements for education in this field. This was back in 2014 in Dubrovnik and last year Chris and I presented the UK survey results in Tallinn. This year I’m returning to present our latest research, exploring the experiences of UK librarians of copyright, using a research method used in education and information literacy called phenomenography. It’s still early days – we carried out 3 focus groups in higher education and have been juggling work and some pretty intensive data analysis. As neither of us had used phenomenography before we are grateful to the help and advice we received from Emma Coonan and Lauren Smith, as well as several very useful articles they pointed us to. I’m sharing our slides from the ECIL presentation which I delivered on Tuesday morning. It has also been great to catch up with Tania, Serap, Joumana and several of the people who undertook the copyright literacy survey in their own country. Part of what motivated Chris and I to do this research was to understand the fear and anxiety that copyright can create, to look at why it’s a topic many in higher education shy away from learning more about, and use this data to better inform how we develop copyright education. I was struck once again by how important it is to get an international perspective on the work we do, and to see in many cases there are so many things we can learn from others experiences and so much that unites us in our work.

Presenting at ECIL 2015The research and collaboration with Chris has informed my thinking about the best way to provide support for others with copyright queries at LSE. For example, I now use a Copyright Card Game in my workshops, which are a fun and engaging way to learn about copyright. However, being seen as ‘the copyright expert’ can be quite a lonely place, and for me it is important that everyone learns a bit about copyright. This is partly what has motivated me to set up a Copyright Community of Practice at LSE (admittedly I did borrow this idea from Chris who set one up at Kent over the summer). The next session is going to be on the 4th November and it is open to any member of staff at LSE! Meanwhile I will enjoy a few more days in beautiful Prague and return to LSE full of more ideas and possibilities to enhance the support that we provide!

The Publishing Trap: case study and video now online

Chris and I wrote a short blog post earlier in the year about the prototype game that we pitched at LILAC 2016, called the Publishing Trap. This week the CILIP Information Literacy group have published a case study about our game on their website. The games competition, Lagadothon is running at next year’s conference so they asked us to make a video to encourage others to enter the competition and tell you more about our game. Let us know what you think as our video is below:

The game was inspired by our work on Copyright the Card Game, and we decided to create a new game aimed at academics, PhD students and researchers to help them understand the scholarly communication process and the impact of the choices they make when disseminating their research findings.  The Publishing Trap won a runner’s up prize and the IL case study describes the aim of the game, how the game works and our ideas about the game to date.

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!