Digital, information or copyright literacy for all?

copyright-literacy-cakesThere has been a lot happening in the world that indicates that digital and information literacy are vital skills to survive in the 21st Century. Whether it’s knowing how to work out fake from real news to staying safe online and maintaining your digital well being, these are all critical abilities everyone needs unless you decide to cut yourself off from the internet and go and live off the grid!
However, while I am passionate about helping people find, evaluate and use information I have been struck by the increasing need for everyone to develop what Chris and I call ‘copyright literacy‘ and how this relates closely to information literacy. Some might think copyright literacy is something only specialists or professionals need; teachers creating online courses, librarians digitising collections or artists and musicians who want to re-mix others work. However, if you own a smart phone, or pretty much any device with access to the internet, then copyright and licensing impacts on your life, whether you know it or not. This notion was highlighted in the Guardian shortly after the new year, in a story about how children were “regularly and unknowingly’ signing over their digital rights on social media. The UK’s Children’s Commission had published ‘Growing Up Digital’ a report detailing, among other things, ways in which the Internet can help young users become better informed about the websites and apps they use. The story highlighted the popular photo sharing social media site, Instagram, which is used by more than half of 12 to 15 year-olds, and 48% of eight- to 11-year-olds. The Guardian explained how “Instagram has terms and conditions that none of the young children in the taskforce’s focus group could fully understand. Only half of the eight- to 11-year-olds could even read the terms, which ran to more than 5,000 words on 17 pages of text”.
A privacy law expert from the firm Shillings was tasked by the Children’s Commission with re-writing the terms so they could be understood by 13 year olds and found that in the main the teenagers were not happy with the rights they were signing away. Many children suspected the terms of use were deliberately written in such a way that they couldn’t understand. The report went on to highlight the importance of e-safety and privacy issues, and while copyright perhaps seems insignificant in light of the threat of online abuse and exploitation of children, it highlighted to me the importance of a comprehensive digital literacy curriculum in the schools. It also seems that in addition to highlighting the dangers of the internet, a key part of digital literacy should surely be about understanding your rights, and understanding that the terms and conditions of apps are legal agreements. It’s all too easy to just agree to these without reading them, but we would all be advised to think before we click.
I’m also reminded of the Crash Course video, an Introduction to Intellectual Property or their video on Copyright Basics, which highlights how copyright is something that impacts on all of us but we tend to encounter it when someone is telling us no, or telling us about something we can’t do. In addition to making digital literacy more about the benefits, rather than dangers of using the internet, wouldn’t it be better if copyright and IP education focused on user’s rights and copyright exceptions, not just the thing they can’t do? That is my intention, to develop copyright and information and digital literacy education that empowers people, teaches them about their rights and makes them think about the ethics of what they are doing, and to be careful about what they might be signing away when they agree to terms and conditions of use. I was struck by the talk Daniel Levitin gave last week at the RSA, based on his book The Field Guide to Lies, and he suggested that in the age when we can Google everything, we just spend a bit of time, that would have been taken up running to the library, searching through books for information, to do some thinking about what we have just read. To sense check it and to ask some questions about who wrote it. Sensible advice! And some might call that critical thinking.

A review of 2016

IMG_2930I was having a think about what I’ve achieved in 2016 and what I’m proud of and reflecting lots of really great stuff amidst the depressing political stuff that’s been happening in the world. So here’s my top ten of achievements and things (and people) I am proud of this year.

1. Conference presentations – I always seem to be giving conference presentations but this year really has been quite a year for them including two keynotes – one at the Dublin Institute for Technology’s E-learning Summer school and my big highlight, a keynote at ALT-C in Warwick in September. I’ve also presented on a range of topics, from information and digital literacy to copyright education and games-based learning. In Ireland, Prague and all around the UK. Presenting at the CILIP conference on the Brighton Dome stage (where Abba won Eurovision in 1974) was another highlight for me this year, on the TeenTech information literacy award! And the show will go on, with plenty of exciting trips lined up for 2017!

2. Publishing my fifth book – I was so pleased to finally finish Copyright and E-learning in the spring which I updated with my co-researcher and copyright buddy Chris Morrison. It really has been great to see the positive book reviews over the last few months and to have people make such nice comments on it. I didn’t enjoy writing this book first time around, but working with Chris was a lot of fun and as I predicted, his knowledge and attention to detail (pedantic, no never!) made it a far better book from from the first edition. So thanks for working with me Chris to produce something we can both be really proud of.

3. Chairing the CILIP Information Literacy Group – I’m now in my second year of chairing the ILG  and I love working with my committee. We’ve been working on an exciting rebrand to be launched at Lilac in April and the work we’re doing on outreach such as funding research projects and working with TeenTech is so rewarding. I’m so proud of everyone on the Committee and the ILG working groups and can’t thank them enough.

4. Raising over £1000 for Cancer Research UK through charity runs. Some of you will know my friend Maria was diagnosed with cancer last year and I’ve completed 3 charity runs to raise money for CRUK this year. I would have liked go do more but injured my foot so I’m building up my strength and also hoping to do some charity cycle rides instead in 2017, as I love my new bike!

5. Getting a place on Aurora the women’s leadership in higher education. I was so pleased to get a place on this programme which I’m just over half way through and I am so grateful to Rosie Jones, Nic Whitton and to Suzanne Christopher formerly of LSE Learning and Development who suggested I apply for this programme. I’ve met some amazing women and I am learning so much. And it’s got me really fired up about issues related to gender and equality more broadly and helped me make some really big decisions about my future career.

6. Becoming an auntie. I cannot explain the joy and love I have felt since becoming an auntie to Henry James Secker who was born in July 2016. He’s an adorable little chap and I enjoy every moment I spend with him and his wonderful parents, my brother Dan, the computer games geek, and his lovely, generous wife, Keeley. I look forward to a future with this lovely chap in my life and want to share so many things with him when he grows up. I’m also proud to say I bought him his first book and a pen as I have great hopes for him!

7. Giving something back and amusing people through my costumed historical walks. I volunteer for an animal charity, but I am also secretary of our local civic society, which preserves the built heritage and green spaces of the town I live in. This is partly because of my love of history but has also been a great way of being part of the community I live in and I’ve met some really inspiring people, who give up their time to campaign for things they believe in. I’ve also got to combine two of my great loves, dressing up and telling people about history through leading two costumed historical walks this year! I can’t wait to do more.

8. Making copyright literacy a real thing through the website, our first bits of consultancy and continuing road show. This is largely the work I’ve been doing with Chris for the past couple of years, but it’s growing and becoming an international movement, with hopefully an IFLA event next summer in Poland bringing it all together. Teaching people about copyright may seem boring and geeky to many people, but for librarians it’s a really important part of their work and something many feel anxious about. So if we can help here, then that is a great thing, but also to teach this in a wider context as part of digital and information literacy, so copyright isn’t just a problem to fix, but part of open practices in education.

9. Discovering the creative side of me or should that be rediscovering it as I did study art and graphic communication at school and loved both subjects. Through working on games and developing new ideas for workshops I am really starting to enjoy bringing creativity and fun into the work I do and hopefully using that to inspire people. I also now have a lot of coloured pens, post-it notes and a collection of owl related stationary which help inspire me.

10. Having less fear and becoming more comfortable being me.  There are going to be some big changes for me in 2017 and I am actually really excited about the future and starting to feel more happier knowing who I am, what I stand for, what I value and what I want to do in my life. It’s been a difficult year in some ways, with some disappointments at work too, but overall the future is looking really positive. I’m excited about 2017, the travel opportunities, the new people I will meet and the fantastic people I hope to carry on working with, so here’s to the New Year and everything it brings! I am ready for it!!

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.
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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!

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.

On why there is never enough time

Time by Old Rollei

Time by Old Rollei licensed under CC-BY and available at: https://flic.kr/p/5YW8LF

I’m always finding myself running between meetings, switching between projects and tasks, wearing different hats (metaphorically not really – although I do have two hats I like quite a lot!) and wondering why there are never enough hours in the day. I kid myself I can multi-task, but it’s not true (no one can), if I try doing too many things at once I just do them all far less well. So I find myself working on tasks for short bursts of time and then moving on to something else, before switching to something new. Lisa Jeskins told me about the pomodoro technique and I think without knowing it, this was what I had been doing. Apparently it’s good for mental agility, which must be a good thing.

Last week, talking to a colleague she said ‘you like to be busy, it’s how you get so much done.’ And I was struck by this and decided it was probably true. No sooner do I tick one thing off my Wunderlist app, then I’ve added another, or four more tasks. I guess the key to getting things done (yes I have read the David Allen book) for me is good planning and trying not to let too many deadline collide. But sometimes having a lot to do makes me more efficient, whereas a day with no meetings can drag by and be wasted if I am not careful. Some of the things I’ve been working on this week include:

  • Hosting a placement student from UCL who is spending time in LTI and the Library
  • Finishing my guide to copyright for PhD students with our Repository Manager, Dimity
  • Planning the evaluation for this year’s SADL programme and briefing my new research assistant
  • Planning the next London Digital Student Meet-up with Moira Wright from UCL
  • Planning the first conference for LSE POWER – the women’s professional network with a fantastic bunch of colleague
  • Planning a series of workshops for LSE’s Learning and Development Group on sharing good practice in planning, designing, delivering and evaluating training
  • Finishing a co-authored chapter on copyright literacy to be published next year by Routledge
  • Proof reading Copyright and E-learning, my forthcoming book
  • Writing a piece for the Statistics Department website on why their students inspired me through the SADL programme.

On top of this I’ve got plenty going on with ILG work (we’ve just finished judging this year’s Research and Information Literacy award), I’m preparing for a CLA licence negotiation meeting next week and starting to think about my talk on 10 years of digital literacy at the UCISA digital capabilities event next month. But will I slow down? Never! When there are projects to plan, papers to write, conferences to attend and a world of copyright and digital literacy to enjoy! There never will be enough time, but that is what makes my job such fun! That and working with some  great people who keep me motivated!

Michaelmas Term conferences, fun and games

It is now the end of term at LSE and we have had a great start to the year with the recruitment of almost 50 undergraduate student ambassadors for the SADL project. I’ve spoken about the programme several times in the last few months, for example at ECIL in October. In October I also gave a webinar for EIFL on digital literacy and a few weeks ago a webinar for staff at NUI Galway as part of their All Aboard HE project. Moira and I also ran another London Digital Student Meet-up in November at the Royal Veterinary College with colleagues from UCL and Jisc and some of the SADL team came along to take part. We were even lucky enough to meet a real horse!

Copyright cakesMeanwhile the copyright literacy roadshow continues after a successful trip to Tallinn, Chris and I were in Leeds on 22nd November for the IL and games event running a two hour copyright card game session. We also ran a workshop together last week for LSE staff, some of whom came along to play the game for a second time. It was nothing to do with the copyright cakes we tempted them with!

This week I was in Newport for the Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE) conference where I was part of a symposium on digital literacies. Then next week I will be in Sheffield for the Social Media in Learning in HE conference playing more games – this time on copyright and the social media challenges.

I’d like to say after that I rest as I’m off work for two weeks but between Christmas celebrations, working on the updates to my 2010 book Copyright and E-learning. I’m working with Chris to update it and enjoying not only having a second set of eyes on the text, but the discussions over all the changes that have happened since 2010 in both copyright law and technology. Even terms like e-learning which we are retaining in the title, seem to have dated a little. Dare I say we have reached a state of post e-learning, where now we just talk about learning whether online or face to face? I’m not sure; what I do know is that digital literacy, learning and copyright all seem to be featuring as the major elements in my work still.