About Jane Secker

Digital Literacy and Copyright Advisor at LSE's Centre for Learning Technology

LTI meets…. Maggie Philbin

LTI meet Maggie PhilbinLTI have started regular lunch time catch ups with inspiring people who are working in the field of innovation and technology. The first of our talks was with Maggie Philbin, co-founder and CEO of an initiative in schools called TeenTech, an award winning organisation helping young people understand the opportunities available in Science and Technology. Some of you may also recognise Maggie from her presenting work on Swap Shop, Tomorrow’s World and more recently Bang Goes the Theory. Maggie is also Chair of of the UK Digital Skills Taskforce which published a report last July on the digital skills gap.

Maggie talked to us about why she started TeenTech; the programme aims to inspire young people, particularly those who might not have traditionally thought of a career in science and technology. She is passionate about encouraging girls and children from lower income backgrounds to widen their career options. TeenTech run events around the UK to bring in young people from schools to be inspired by those from industry, commerce and the HE sector. The TeenTech event in London which is held at the Olympic Park in December, is open to Year 8 and 9 students from schools across London and they have a chance to meet 200 scientists, engineers and technologists and engage in fun but highly participatory learning.

July 29th, 2015|Announcements, innovation, Research Skills, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on LTI meets…. Maggie Philbin|

Our first SADL Graduate

Maria and Seow WeiStudent Ambassadors for Digital Literacy (SADL) has now run for 2 years, coordinated by Learning Technology and Innovation (LTI) and the Library. It is aimed at undergraduate students and this year was offered to students in Statistics, Social Policy, International Relations and Law. Students were recruited to attend 4 workshops over the course of the year to develop their digital literacy skills, in terms of finding and evaluating information, improving their reading and research, managing and sharing information and managing their online identity.

This year four students who completed the programme in 2013/14 acted as Senior Ambassadors to help develop and teach the workshops and provide peer support for students.  This year we had our first graduate from the programme, Seow Wei Chin, from the Department of Statistics, who had been involved in the project from the start and acted as a senior ambassador while in her final year at LSE. Seow Wei also attended several national conferences where she spoke about her involvement in SADL. Here she is pictured with Maria Bell, who is the library lead for the programme, on the day she was awarded her first class honours degree. Read Seow Wei’s reflections on her SADL experience on the SADL blog. Seow Wei recently told us:

“I am glad I joined SADL because I wouldn’t have known anything about copyright or any qualitative skills …. [SADL] really helped me a lot like research and managing information. It helped me through my second year. In my third year I am doing a half quantitative half qualitative module, so I feel more confident, being able to extract the skills from SADL to work on that. And I could actually teach others when they needed help as well.”

July 29th, 2015|Research Skills, Student projects, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on Our first SADL Graduate|

TeenTech Awards 2015: celebrating science, technology and innovation

TeenTech Judges: Geoff Walton, Jane Secker, Rebecca Jones and Darren FlynnOn 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.

During our discussion  I talked about the work I do at LSE, for example on projects such as Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy (SADL) and through my professional involvement as Chair of the CILIP Information Literacy Group. Consequently 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 the school librarian from Dixons Academy in Bradford. We had to review all 40 of the finalist projects and had 12 stands 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 information and digital literacy skills 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 terms of 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 between librarians 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 to be involved in such a fabulous initiative! And all hats off to Maggie for trying to make tomorrow’s world a better place.

June 26th, 2015|Announcements, innovation, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on TeenTech Awards 2015: celebrating science, technology and innovation|

Working with TeenTech

Maggie Philbin (yes, THAT Maggie) recently published a report about digital literacy skills in the UK. I agreed with much of what she said, except that I thought she forgot to make a key point: that people need the ability to engage CRITICALLY with the information that’s out there, i.e. being able to discern what is useful, academic, trustworthy and what isn’t. We all need to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff, online.

Maggie and I subsequently struck up a very good rapport during a productive meeting and I have since become involved with TeenTech, of which she is CEO. TeenTech run lively one-day events to help young teenagers see the wide range of career possibilities in Science, Engineering and Technology. They also have an annual competition where students work in teams on a project of their choice. Awards are given at an event at the Royal Society in June and the projects are judged in a range of categories. I will be a judge on a panel for one of these awards, a new one which recognises excellence in research and information literacy in 11-16 year olds. This award is sponsored by the CILIP Information Literacy Group, a professional group that I now Chair.

We know that university graduates need to have well-developed digital and information literacy skills, but all research shows that individuals need to start developing them before they start their degrees. As Maggie said: “Search engines like Google are powerful and really valuable tools but, like any tool, students need to understand the best ways to use them. They also need to see how they can use them in conjunction with other ways of finding information.” This new award supports exactly that: it will celebrate how young people can be truly information literate researchers – dispelling the ‘Google Generation myth – as they explore their ideas to make life better, simpler or easier.

I am quite excited about this – and not a little star-struck! – because my work revolves so much around embedding digital literacy skills in adults and time and again it becomes clear that these skills need to be fostered at an early age, to produce the innovative academics of the future we need.  Schools or libraries can register their interest now for the awards for 2015/6, or can contact TeenTech for more details. I’m really looking forward to being involved.

April 22nd, 2015|Ed-Tech news and issues, innovation|Comments Off on Working with TeenTech|

LSE undergraduates become Digital Literacy Ambassadors

Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy (SADL) is a programme currently open to undergraduate students in the Departments of Statistics, Social Policy, International Relations and Law. It is run by Learning Technology and Innovation (LTI) and the Library and it is now in its second year.

This year the team recruited 40 student ambassadors to attend a series of workshops to develop their digital literacy. The workshops concentrated on finding and evaluating information, research practices, sharing and managing information and managing your digital footprint. They were designed to be interactive and an opportunity for the staff to learn from students and for students to share their experiences with each other and their peers. Students received Amazon vouchers for participating in SADL but also a statement on PDAM in recognition of their skills and experience.

In October 2014 the SADL team appointed four Senior Ambassadors who completed the programme last year. The Seniors Seow Wei Chin, Djelila Delior, Simran Masand and Eugene McGeown helped to plan and run the workshops in conjunction with LTI and Library staff and to supervise a group project which was presented at the end of the programme.

April 15th, 2015|Conferences, Research Skills, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on LSE undergraduates become Digital Literacy Ambassadors|

The Digital Academic: Tools and Tips for Research Impact

Digital AcademicLTI are pleased to announce a new workshop being organised by and Piirus and entitled ‘The Digital Academic: Tools and Tips for Research Impact and ECR Employability’ on Monday 23rd March 2015 in Coventry. The workshop will consider:

  • What does it really mean to be ‘a digital academic’?
  • How can you build your online academic profile via social media?
  • Do hiring committees actually care about your ‘digital academic impact’?

The workshop aims to help you identify the must-have technologies and tools for being a modern digital academic and the skills to manage them successfully. Find out more and register online.

In addition LTI and the Library run a range of in-house workshops on related topics. For example, in March we are running the following sessions:

  • ‘What does Open Access mean for you’ on 17th March at 12pm. Book online here.
  • ‘Developing your web presence’ on 25th March at 12pm. Book online here.
March 6th, 2015|Research Skills|Comments Off on The Digital Academic: Tools and Tips for Research Impact|

Singapore bound!

The Parliament House at The Singapore River - bu William Cho

The Parliament House at The Singapore River – bu William Cho

Since October 2014 I have been seconded from LTI two days a week to the University of London International Programmes (UoLIP) office based at LSE. They coordinate distance learning degree courses in economics, finance, maths and social sciences that are taken by students all over the world. Quite a large percent of these students are based in Singapore and many are enrolled in local colleges who teach the students, while the academic direction and assessment is provided from London.

Next week I will be visiting Singapore with the LSE UoLIP team, including the Head of Teaching and Learning, Lynne Roberts, their educational developer, Chris and their Learning Technologist, Craig. We have a hectic schedule of meetings, workshops, training, observations and opportunities to meet students enrolled on the courses. I am really excited about the trip and my role for the past few months has been to help develop some new workshops around the theme of Teaching in the Digital Age. The workshops are based on several that we run at LSE and a new workshop that I am hoping to run for the first time later in the year for LSE academics, on embedding digital literacies into the curriculum. It is very much based on the ANCIL workshops that Emma Coonan and I have run at several institutions, where teachers review their curriculum according to an information literacy curriculum, to identify good practice, gaps and opportunities to integrate digital and information literacy into their course.

In order to be sustainable, I have also put together a proposal for an online course that would allow us to support the teachers once we return to the UK. For those in the library world, you may have heard of the 23 Things model, and I have been very much inspired by this approach. As a teacher you need to be reflective, and also to share ideas with your community. The 23 Things model seems to offer a way of doing this. Plus each of the ‘things’ are relatively small but should help the teachers and the students develop their digital literacies as they try them out and reflect on them. I’ve received excellent advice from Liz McCarthy at the Bodelian who ran the Oxford 23 Things for Research.

I’ve also got two visits lined up to see Yun-Ke Chang at Nangyang University, who I met at ECIL 2014 and is doing some fascinating research with colleagues on information literacy in Singapore Schools. I will also be visiting Ron Starker and colleges at Singapore American School, who are being influenced by ANCIL to enhance their middle school curriculum and have invited me to a fascinating conference for teachers next Friday afternoon, called iCreate.

So roll on my trip! I’m looking forward to escaping the gloomy weather, enjoying some 27 degree heat, fabulous food, meeting teachers and librarians and talking about learning technologies, digital and information literacy and student learning.

January 16th, 2015|Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on Singapore bound!|

Meet Matthew Connelly, our upcoming NetworkEDGE speaker

Philippe Roman Chair in History anProfessor Matthew Connellyd International Affairs 2014/15, Professor Matthew Connelly, is teaching ‘Hacking the Archive – HY447’ this academic year. He is currently a professor in the Department of History at Columbia University. In our first 2015 NetworkEDGE seminar on 14th January, Professor Connelly be talking about his course, which uses big data from various International History databases and teaches students new tools and techniques to explore various the vast array of material available online. Students are encouraged to rethink historical research in the digital age as older primary sources are increasingly becoming available online alongside newly declassified information and ‘born digital’ electronic records. The seminar is free to attend but places are limited so will need to be reserved via the staff training and development system or by emailing  All our talks are live streamed and recorded for those who can’t make it.

I caught up with Matt to find out more about his innovative course and his fascinating historical research and asked him a few questions.

Jane: I’ve heard a lot about digital humanities – can you tell us what this is and why it might be a useful way of approaching the study of a subject like history?

MC: “Digital Humanities” is an umbrella term that can be summed up as the use of computational tools and visualisations to assist in humanities research and presentation. Though there are common practices, tools, and methodologies for doing this across disciplines, history as a subject is particularly suited to these approaches. In fact, I believe it will become increasingly important in years to come.

January 9th, 2015|Events & Workshops (LTI), NetworkEDGE, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on Meet Matthew Connelly, our upcoming NetworkEDGE speaker|

The new copyright exceptions – what do they mean for LSE staff and students?

I <3 2 read by Kate Ter Haar

I <3 2 read by Kate Ter Haar

In 2014 there were a series of amendments to the 1988 Copyright Designs and Patents Act in the UK, following The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property. The final wording of the exceptions were subject to wrangling between the bodies representing authors, publishing, music and film industry and those representing libraries, museums and the cultural heritage organisations. However, we finally in June and October saw the amendments passed in parliament. In addition, just a month or so ago the Intellectual Property Office launched a scheme to licence ‘orphan works’ (which are works that where a copyright owner cannot be traced).

My role at LSE is to provide advice and support to staff wishing to use materials online to support their teaching, which often involves discussing issues of copyright. In October I attempted to summarise the main changes to the law on a copyright amendments webpage. However, I appreciate that copyright is not everyone’s favourite topic and sometimes not the easiest law to understand. In this blog post I’ll explore a few of the new exceptions and what they might mean in practice for staff and students at LSE.

December 5th, 2014|copyright, Ed-Tech news and issues, NetworkEDGE|Comments Off on The new copyright exceptions – what do they mean for LSE staff and students?|

SADL project presents at European conference

Dubrovnik's famous cave bar

Relaxing on the last night

Last week the work of LTI and the Library’s Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy (SADL) project reached a truly international audience when I presented with Maria Bell  at the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL) in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The conference brought together delegates from Europe and beyond (59 countries were represented) to share research and practice in supporting information literacy was attended by teachers, lecturers, librarians and researchers in the field.

Some of you may be more familiar with the term digital literacy but essentially information literacy is helping people find, evaluate, manage and communicate information in all its forms (not just digital) and while technology plays a role in how many of us interact with information, we were urged by one of the conference keynotes, Michael B Eisenberg, not to focus on technology too much as it will change! Information literacy is recognised by UNESCO as being a foundation for lifelong learning and for democracy and they also see it as a human right. We heard about information literacy in the townships of South Africa, its role in health education (where many of us can find something online about their latest ailment!) and in the recent Scottish referendum, where people were swamped with information from both sides of the campaign but perhaps lacked the critical abilities to make sense of it.

October 30th, 2014|Conferences, Research Skills|Comments Off on SADL project presents at European conference|