Academic Readings: Print vs Electronic

Student academic readings are a course requirement, how they are accessed is up to the individual. Some find it easier to read printed versions as they can be annotated, easier to read and offer less distractions; others prefer electronic versions as they are more accessible, can be read from anywhere and are more environmentally friendly.

LSE is participating in an international study (ARFIS) to understand how students access their academic readings whether that is print or digital. This data will help contribute towards our understanding of student behaviour in the digital age.

ARFIS (Academic Reading Format International Study) is available until 31st March 2016 to UK higher education students and looks at gathering data which identifies student reading preferences.

If you are willing to complete the survey it will only take 10minutes of your time. The survey can be accessed via this link

February 22nd, 2016|copyright, Digital Literacy, Reports & Papers, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on Academic Readings: Print vs Electronic|

Integrating digital and information literacies in course curricula


Claudine Provencher

In advance of an Academic Development Programme workshop on this subject next Wednesday (see the booking link at the end of the post), during which participants will explore the concepts of information and digital literacies, how they relate to student learning and how they can be incorporated into courses and programmes, Jane Secker, Copyright and Digital Literacy Advisor in LSE’s Learning Technology and Innovation, shares her views on various aspects of these literacies with Claudine Provencher, Senior Academic Developer in LSE’s Teaching and Learning Centre. This post originates from the TLC blog where you can find further articles on projects, innovative teaching practices and upcoming events at LSE.

What is your definition of information and digital literacies?


Jane Secker

Information and digital literacies are key players in the knowledge, skills and behaviours that underpin learning, and part of what you could call ‘learning literacies’, which also include media and academic literacies. Information literacy is a term that was first coined over 40 years ago and it’s widely used by librarians. Its importance has been recognized by UNESCO as essential for lifelong learning and a human right. It’s about knowing how to find, evaluate, manage and use information in all its forms, and it extends way beyond simply finding the right information to complete an assignment at LSE. It is also about being able to evaluate the information you find and how to use it to construct new knowledge. Meanwhile digital literacy is a more recent term, but the two overlap considerably. Digital literacy is more than just IT skills: it’s about knowing how to use technology appropriately, knowing which sources to trust online and how to manage your digital identity and wellbeing (which means knowing when to switch off technology sometimes!). In both digital and information literacy, ethics are really important, so knowing how to use other people’s ideas appropriately, understanding citation conventions and respecting intellectual property and copyright are significant issues of concern as well.

What are the main challenges involved in integrating information and digital literacies into course curriculum?

One of the biggest challenges is getting time in the curriculum to help students develop these abilities in the context of their studies. Many academic colleagues expect LSE students to have these skills in place when they arrive at LSE, forgetting that our students come from all around the world and may not have learned how to find and evaluate information or use technology for academic purposes. There is also a challenge because the notion that all students are very ‘tech savvy’ persists, despite much evidence to the contrary.

While there exist some generic information and digital literacy skills, there are many that are closely related to academic practices within a discipline and so, to be meaningful to students, information and digital literacies should ideally be developed as part of their studies, not in optional extra sessions.

One of the other challenges is how these literacies are assessed in a course, particularly if the main form of assessment is an end of year exam. One of the best ways of developing and assessing them may be through independent research, opportunities for which exist both within departments, when students are tasked with undertaking an extended essay or dissertation, and through initiatives like the Teaching and Learning Centre’s LSE GROUPS.

Another challenge, which may not be as explicit, comes from the way reading lists are developed. Typically, at LSE, we provide students with highly structured reading lists, which means that learning how to evaluate and select resources is already done for them. This is not the case everywhere and other universities privilege alternative approaches such as inquiry based learning, for which students are given more project based work where they have to come up with a topic, carry out research and perhaps present an annotated bibliography, discussing why particular sources are valuable.

Should academics think about it at course level or at programme level?

I think both are important, and the best way to develop these abilities in undergraduate students is to embed them across the three years of a degree. In the first year, students need guidance on what good quality sources are, and how to use highly structured reading lists but, as they progress through their studies, they can be set assignments that help them learn to do research for themselves and select their own sources of information. Some disciplines lend themselves more easily to the development of information and digital literacies: history, for example, where it’s vital that students learn how to evaluate sources. However, there are opportunities in all subjects to teach students about how knowledge and information is structured within their discipline, and about specific conventions such as citing and referencing sources correctly.

Could you provide us with a few examples of successful integration of these literacies?

At LSE undergraduate students who undertake a dissertation or long essay often get an opportunity to develop their information literacy skills; however, this often comes relatively late in the course of their studies. I’ve worked with Dr Wicher Bergsma in Statistics to integrate information and digital literacies into an undergraduate statistics course he teaches (ST312, Applied Statistics), where students have to undertake a critical investigation and collate statistical data on a topic of their own interest. In the course, there are now three sessions taught by library colleagues and me where students learn how to undertake a literature search, going beyond simply a Google Scholar search, find data sets and learn how to cite and reference.

Also at LSE, it’s worth mentioning the Library’s role in supporting and developing digital and information literacies – academic staff can contact their Academic Support Librarian for advice – and the Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy project (SADL), which has 45 undergraduate student ambassadors involved in participatory workshops and initiatives designed to share and embed good practices across the student community.

Finally, if I can insert an extra-LSE note, there’s a project I’ve been involved with in my capacity as Chair of the Information Literacy Group which has some relevance. TeenTech brings school students together to work in teams on projects and we’ve built research and information literacy skills into the judging criteria for these projects. So here students are expected at an early age to find and evaluate information and show how their idea builds on the work of others.

There are several interesting ideas in what you have just said. To conclude, could you say a few words about what you think could be the main benefits of a closer integration of information and digital literacies into course and programme curricula?

Students with highly developed information and digital literacies will get better marks and be able to develop more effective critical thinking skills. There will be fewer incidents of plagiarism and students will be better equipped when the time comes for them to undertake independent research. Last but not least, students with good information and digital literacies are highly valued by employers, as they know how to research a topic when they are not given a reading list!

The Integrating information and digital literacies in the curriculum workshop takes place on Wednesday 10 February, 12:30-14:00.

February 5th, 2016|Blogging, copyright, Digital Literacy, Teaching & Learning, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Integrating digital and information literacies in course curricula|

Estonian adventures in information literacy

IMG_8573Two weeks ago I attended the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL2015); the third I was fortunate enough to attend. Held in Tallinn the capital of Estonia, which is a beautiful medieval city on the Baltic coast. The theme of the conference was Information Literacy in the Green Society and back last year when this was announced I was a little unsure what it meant. In fact few papers I attended addressed green issues directly, but what I took away was that information literacy is central to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and IL is all part of building sustainable, democratic societies, where people have access to information and the critical abilities to know what to do with it.

I had a busy schedule, presenting three papers at the conference. The first was about our Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy programme at LSE, now in its third year, so the focus of the paper was on sustainability and the impact of this programme on our undergraduate students, following the extensive evaluation we carried out in the summer of 2015. My slides are available on Slideshare and I co-authored this paper with my colleague from LSE, Maria Bell. SADL has just recruited 45 LSE undergraduates and we have 9 Senior Ambassadors supporting the programme of workshops and activities this year. Go SADL!

My second paper was inspired by attending a series of papers at last year’s ECIL on European research into the copyright literacy knowledge of library and related professionals. Following this I got involved in the second phase of this multi-national study of copyright literacy, coordinating the UK version of this survey with Chris Morrison, from the University of Kent. We presented our findings from over 600 UK librarians in an interactive, ‘Play your Cards Right’ style session to compare the data with other countries. Again these slides are on SlideShare. You can also find out more from the new website we’ve launched as a home for UK Copyright Literacy activities.

My final paper focused on my work as Chair of the CILIP Information Literacy Group, and I delivered this with fellow ILG Committee member, Geoff Walton, from Northumbria University. UK Information Literacy Advocacy: reaching out beyond the tower, explored the advocacy work ILG have embarked on in the last year to build up links with organisations outside the library sector and to promote information literacy to groups such as Trade Unions, businesses, schools and public libraries. I also spoke about the work we’ve done with TeenTech to launch a Research and Information Literacy award.

Congratulations to Sonja Špiranec and Serap Kurbanoğlu, the founders of ECIL for another fantastic conference and for making me feel part of a global network of information literacy. I returned inspired and energized and would urge others from the UK to try to get to this conference next year, not least because it will be in another beautiful European city, Prague.

November 3rd, 2015|Conferences, copyright, Digital Literacy, Research Skills|Comments Off on Estonian adventures in information literacy|

Don’t just copy: copy it right!

Don't just copy - copy it rightIn a few weeks LSE will be rolling out a fleet on new MFDs (multi-functional devices) that allow printing, photocopying and scanning and I have been advising the project team on copyright issues. As part of this project IMT have a range of new marketing materials to promote copyright education across the School including posters, postcards and fortune cookies! This project coincides with some work I’ve been doing with my counterpart at the University of Kent, Chris Morrison, to investigate levels of copyright literacy among UK librarians and related professionals. Last week we wrote a blog post on why copyright is a fundamental part of digital and information literacy on the CILIP blog.  We feel copyright education is often perceived as being dry, boring and all about telling people what they can’t do. We are trying to change that to equip people with the knowledge and skills so they can see how understanding copyright and licensing might be empowering. We worked together earlier this year to develop a new game-based approach to copyright education which has been transforming our copyright training sessions. Tomorrow at 2pm there is an opportunity for LSE staff to play Copyright the Card Game as part of an IMT Tech Talk. There is still time to book a place, so if you are interested email If you would like to find out more about copyright then also look out for the new guides to Copyright for LSE staff which are available from LTI from the end of the week. And do look at our guides to copyright pages. Queries and bespoke training is available on request. And don’t forget – don’t just copy – copy it right!

August 17th, 2015|Announcements, copyright, Events & Workshops (LTI), Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on Don’t just copy: copy it right!|

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?|

Open educational practices benefit us all

On Thursday, I attended the FOSTER Discovering Open Practices event jointly organised by the libraries at LSE, King’s College London (KCL) and Queen Mary’s College, London (QMUL). The event aimed at promoting open access and open academic practices to early career researchers. It was an eye-opening experience, which showed me how current publication practices affect early career researchers desperate to make their mark in academia.

I was particularly struck by Joe McArthur’s (@mcarthur_joe) presentation. Joe is the Assistant Director for from the Right to Research Coalition, and having recently graduated from UCL, had the frustration of not having access to research fresh in his mind. He  talked about how publishing firms behind prestigious journals often force researchers to hand over the copyright for years of hard work, (80% of which is publicly funded), only to restrict access through paywalls leading to profit margins for Springer and Elsevier which even the likes of Microsoft and Google would be envious of. And the costs seem to keep going up. Joe mentioned that costs have gone up 400% in the last 20 to 30 years, and the average subscription for a health science journal is now $1482 a year. Researchers are not only restricted from accessing vital research but sometimes also forced to turn to illegal file sharing to be able to complete their own research, with possible legal consequences for the researcher.

September 8th, 2014|Conferences, copyright, Research Skills|Comments Off on Open educational practices benefit us all|

How do the new copyright exceptions affect you?

You may have heard in the news that new copyright exceptions came into force in the UK on the 1st June 2014. At LSE I have been trying to keep staff up to date with the changes and what they mean for teaching, learning and research and with this in mind I have drafted a set of guidelines. However, I thought I would take the opportunity to highlight a few of the new amendments – which are mainly changes to copyright exceptions, and what they mean in practice.

The changes around educational copying are probably of most interest to those of us in higher education. Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act had an outdated (some might say ludicrous) clause that permitted educational copying provided a ‘reprographic process’ was not used. This ruled out any form of photocopying or scanning for teaching and meant essentially you had to rely on your Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Licence or write things out in long hand! The new exception means you can display material on interactive whiteboards (or on the VLE) provided you must include a sufficient acknowledgment – essentially it sanctions what a lot of teachers were probably doing already. However, this exception is subject to ‘fair dealing’ so you should stick to a small amount of the work and the material you use must be illustrative of a subject you are teaching. It certainly broadens the scope for including third party material in teaching (for example in PowerPoint or on Moodle) for illustrative purposes, but a teacher will need to judge what constitutes ‘fair’.

June 23rd, 2014|Announcements, copyright, Images, Audio & Video, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on How do the new copyright exceptions affect you?|

Copyright briefing: report from event

I attended the CILIP Executive Briefing on copyright this week to get a heads up on the proposed changes to copyright exceptions that we hope will come into force on 1st June 2014. If you would like to read the longer report on my blog, you can find out more about the day. CLT will ensure that staff are made aware of the changes and how they might affect copying they do for private study and research, for teaching and other purposes. However the Statutory Instruments and guidance is available on the Intellectual Property Office’s website.

April 3rd, 2014|copyright|Comments Off on Copyright briefing: report from event|