Developing digitally literate staff and students: experiences from LSE


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TEL Seminar at the University of Sussex on 19th October 2016

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  • The session reflects on 10 years of running a digital literacy programme for staff at LSE, including the evolving nature of the programme, challenges, lessons learnt and the impact of the programme. It will discuss the benefits of running this programme collaboratively with Learning Technology and Library staff. I will also discuss how we’ve worked with students in partnership on digital literacy for the past 3 years, through the Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy programme and the lessons learnt from this work.
    Key message: digital literacy is vital for staff and students – need to tailor programmes for your audience and not make assumptions – but also to constantly reviewing the programme to keep it fresh and relevant as technology changes.
    The evolving nature of the digital literacy programme
    Lessons learnt
    Impact of the programme
    Collaborative nature of the programme
  • Tell a story here – the key point is that it’s like a party where people don’t talk to each other – they stay in their cliques

    Around 14 years ago in 2002 there was a conference called E-lit organised by a group of Glasgow based universities (is there anyone here who attended this conference?) It aimed to bring together those interested in IT literacy and Information Literacy (mainly librarians and IT trainers with some e-learning pioneers involved).

    It seemed like a great idea, the conference ran for a few years however it became increasingly clear that these professions weren’t really working together IT people talked to the IT people, librarians talked to the librarians and the e-learning people talked to no one! – I was one of the group of librarians who headed off into the sunset to form a dedicated conference on information literacy (called LILAC which is hugely successful, and is now in it’s 12th year).

    However, the conference inspired me as someone working in the intersection between library / IT and e-learning to see there were a lot of benefits from trying to work together – but it does seem to me that professionals find it hard to find a shared common language and in some ways we talk at cross purposes, perhaps there is a bit of turf war going on.
  • Is it sometimes a bit like this when we talk about terms?

    I attended an event about digital literacy a few years ago where I asked education researchers how digital and information literacy related to each other – anyone have any ideas which was they thought was the ‘container’ term?

    It was digital – however, for me it was information – librarians call it information literacy

    Ask a learning developer – they will tell you its academic literacies

    A media person will see it as Media Literacy
  • This is our original graphic of how we perceived the field of IL and its relationships with other areas.
    Our representation situates information literacy as the central concept, overlapping with areas of specific information application (new learning literacies), practices involving a specific type of information (digital literacies), and information in use in a particular context or community (academic and media literacies). The graphic was designed to show that we perceive information literacy as interwoven with all these areas – but it also suggests visually that information literacy is a grand narrative: the overarching, ‘master’ concept that relates and makes meaningful all the others.

    However, we soon began to see an equal degree of complexity in other areas, in particular recognising the strength of the claim that learning development constitutes a legitimate, epistemologically autonomous, and empirically grounded field of inquiry. In other words, learning development could equally validly claim to occupy the central, relational role in our diagram, as a lens through which to see and connect the other areas – including digital and information literacies. And equally, what Jane and I refer to as ‘information literacy’ is now often seen as being subsumed within the larger concept of ‘digital literacy’, which then becomes the grand narrative.

    In all these professional areas in the last decade or so we have been moving away from a functional, remedial, simplistic enforced or normalised label-hanging approach. Because of the way our thinking in all these areas has developed, maybe we’ve reached a point where although we’re coming from different specialties and start points, we’re all converging on the same goal: to provide opportunities for our students to construct and sensemake the academic landscape for themselves.

    The way in which UCC is approaching this landscape, with a convergence between academic writing, research skills and digital literacies, echoes how our own thinking around ANCIL has developed as well as how we are implementing this thinking in our institutions. We’re excited by your approach!

    In the same way as our thinking about learning development has moved on from study skills – Wingate - so information literacy was once distressingly functional, process-based and the province – and the ‘gift’ - of librarians (we decided who got to be qualified as “information literate”). Now, however, it’s starting to be seen as a crucial ingredient in learning and in the development of an individual’s identity as a learner, a graduate, an employee and an informed citizen. Zurkowski ECIL keynote 2013 (Istanbul) – IL is about empowering the general population, making it harder for those in authority to fool people. A revolutionary tool. Information can be dangerous, so if IL is not challenging, we are doing it wrong!
  • So are we clear what we mean when we talk about digital literacy? Or capability or scholarship – we have many different models.

    Digital skills is very in vogue with the government at the moment
  • Ask the audience
  • Say something about capabilities and competencies and frameworks that are standards based. Remedial.

    Big move in the information and academic literacies field to move to something that is more leaner centred – part of the discipline or context specific
  • Essentially here is where I make my point – all this talk about digital and the key abilitites really are not technology but about how people interact with information – this includes digital technology and tools but essentially it’s about empowering people to achieve their personal social, occupational or educational goals.

    It’s way bigger than scholarship (associated with forma education)

    And way bigger than digital – given that we are in a world where everyone has fair access to technology and digital exclusion is still a big issue even in the UK
  • Where does this fit with scholarship?

    Key message here is – I called it information literacy

    It’s learner centred

    It’s not prescriptive

    And back in 2011 when I developed this model (which was based on research) there was a lot of time spent by me and my co-researcher Emma Coonan discussing where digital fit in all this. Should one of the strands be about digital and then we realised… affects all of these things – it can be used to present and communicate, it can be used to develop your academic writing abilities. It’s hugely important in resource discovery (but people still find things by browsing shelves and talking to other people – non digital ways). It’s important for managing information, but we also still need to manage a lot of paper (or in my case, not manage our paper very well!)

    So essentially we concluded.....move to next slide
  • Is digital a red herring? Does it change anything?

    The framework I developed didn’t have digital in it – there is not a separate digital literacy strand – digital runs through everything potentially (and that might be the decision not to use tech)

    But going back to where it fits, it is a core skill and it is something that needs to feature in all the aspects of literacy (or scholarship). So in some ways scholarship today is inevitably more digital (even when the choice is to ban the laptop!)
  • Digital is an opportunity though because it’s cool – digital skills a key focus for government – digital is recognised as important to the economy. In big businesses CEOs recognise that digital matters – it’s a huge market – the mobile phone in your pocket is like a shop window, access to services.

    An opportunity to engage some people, but also potentially a threat and something to blame… the article by Henrichsen and Coombs – about what they call critical digital literacy – I’m reading a lot about critical literacy at the moment (which should probably feature in my overlapping literacies Venn diagram)

    Recent Inside Higher Ed article on an MIT study how laptops and tablets are distracting and students perform better with no tech. Like many of these studies it is fundamentally flawed. Not comparing like with like. “Leave it in the bag”
  • First up – let’s dispel a few myths – digital natives do not exist – fact

    Some students may be tech savvy – some are not – the continuum of visitors to residents from White and Le Cornu is a more helpful way of viewing this.

    Students may use Facebook, students are not experts in their discipline and scholarly practices

    However for staff the rhetoric is compelling and they believe themselves to be playing catch up.
  • So I am going to reflect for the last part of this talk on what I might have gleaned from running a digital literacy programme for the past 11 years. If I take you back to 2005 when the programme was created – it didn’t come out of a top level strategy or a paper. It was a hunch I had that people needed more help – I see it as a pretend horse – something I created for staff and researchers – I think it was just 3 courses on creating a reading list, on finding and using library resources and going beyond Google.

    It came from the idea that underpinning the use of technology in education were some other skills that seemed to be missing when I spoke to academics – when they confided in me that they didn’t really know how things worked related to technology and library systems.

    And now digital literacy is a thing, we’ve gone from our pretend horse to a real one. It is a regular part of the workshops we do at LSE and taught jointly by staff in the library and LTI

  • The need for a new programme aimed at staff – to support their teaching and research
    A programme that was available to all types of staff (and research students)
    Knowledge of how to use IT and Library systems to find and manage information
    Awareness of social media – but no real understanding of how to use it for scholarly purposes
    An opportunity to experiment, test out new ideas and courses, understand needs (so some courses dropped, all regularly reviewed – many were subsequently developed for students)
    An opportunity to collaborate between learning technologists and library staff

    Staff don’t know what they don’t know! These workshops raise awareness of new tools and technologies (we used to run one on Facebook)

    Mention a framework here
  • Keep it fresh and regularly review the programme
    Bring in new staff to teach
    Don’t over manage the people running the programme
    Be flexible

    Be prepared to drop courses not running – using images in teaching – a fantastic course but could we get people to come? No! Integrated it into a wider session on using images and digital media.

  • Sometimes people come along expecting something quite different – make sure you course titles and descriptions are really clear!

    Dealing with academic and admin staff in the same session who might have quite different needs

    (we’ve now developed a Research Development Programme which focuses specifically on PhD students)

    Being too ahead of the curve – we started running Twitter classes in 2008 – it’s taken a long time for people to start coming! We were at the point of dropping them! (the same with blogging and writing for blogs)
  • Games based learning for copyright – now the most popular workshop we do (when it was the least popular!)

    Need to keep things fresh – but also value in really investing in developing high quality sessions for core digital literacies

    Copyright the card game / cake – post digital
  • Say something sensible about SADL here – a programme to engage undergrads but also to help understand them and work out how to engage staff

    Bottom up approach – opposite of a top down framework in some ways
  • Sustainability is also all about having institutional and national strategies that help align your work – so everyone knows where they are heading.

    Jisc strategies and focus from the HEA are helpful – led to a revamp of the PGCert to recognise the value of DL and Learning Technologies

    QAA and Digital Literacy review

    At the moment LSE Life is the key focus so need to look at where this fits into the programme that is being developed for students
  • This is key – how do we do make it sustainable?

    Digital needs to be part of the mainstream – people have talked about post-digital (digital disappears as it’s just part of everything)

    I think sustainability is all about evidence and impact – doing research about what works and what staff and students actually need, evaluating your programmes, going way beyond the happy sheet

    Also it’s about trying to join up what you do – to make the best your of resources and avoiding turf wars or duplication of effort with other learning providers (hence why having a strategy is important)
  • Collaboration with academics and learning support professionals
    Aligning digital, academic and information literacy programmes
    Joined up approach to liaising with academic departments 
    Avoiding turf wars because there are overlaps and through good communication and compromises we can all get on together.
  • Add I the chapter from the Tilley and Preistner Boutique model book

    What else have I written about digital literacy
  • Developing digitally literate staff and students: experiences from LSE

    1. 1. Developing digitally literate staff and students: experiences from LSE Dr Jane Secker Copyright and Digital Literacy Advisor Learning Technology and Innovation, LSE University of Sussex TEL Seminar 19th October 2016
    2. 2. The trouble with terminology… Image: Networking from Flickr licensed under CC BY-NC-ND: :
    3. 3. My dolly is bigger than yours…. Image: ‘Russian Dolls’ by Lachlan Fearnley, CC BY-SA 3.0 Matryoshka metaphor conceived by Florence Dujardin (@afdujardin)
    4. 4. Information Literacy and other literacies Secker and Coonan, 2013
    5. 5. Digital literacies or capabilities?
    6. 6. What is digital literacy to you? Signpost: CC-BY
    7. 7. What is digital literacy? …….the capabilities which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society. Jisc (2015) Literacy = students Capability = staff Scholarship??
    8. 8. A critical approach In these days of mass surveillance and the massive transfer of public goods into private hands, citizens need to know much more about how information works. They need to understand the moral, economic, and political context of knowledge. They need to know how to create their own, so that they make the world a better, more just place. – Barbara Fister, “Practicing Freedom in the Digital Library: Reinventing Libraries” (2013)
    9. 9. What is information literacy? Information literacy empowers people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world and promotes social inclusion in all nations. UNESCO (2005) Alexandria Proclamation
    10. 10. A New Curriculum for Information Literacy (ANCIL) Secker and Coonan (2013)
    11. 11. Is digital a red herring?
    12. 12. Or is digital an opportunity?
    13. 13. Digital natives? Photo by Flickingerbrad licensed under Creative Commons Photo by starmanseries licensed under Creative Commons
    14. 14. Visitors and residents Images: Jisc InfoNet Visitors and Residents collection licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND:
    15. 15. Digital literacy at LSE: 2005-2016 Focus on academic staff development Supporting them as teachers, but also as researchers and learners Going beyond the VLE: using social media and apps Now just part of what LTI offer each term Understanding copyright is integral to digital literacy
    16. 16. Embedding ‘copyright literacy’ Acquiring and demonstrating the appropriate knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable the ethical creation and use of copyright material. Secker and Morrison, 2015
    17. 17. Digital literacy is real
    18. 18. What works ?
    19. 19. What doesn’t? Startled cat from Flickr licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND:
    20. 20. Innovation and transforming teaching
    21. 21. Working with students as partners
    22. 22. Aligning with strategy Portrait of a loser from Flickr licensed under CC-BY:
    23. 23. Making it sustainable Sustainability by Kyle MacKenzie at
    24. 24. Collaboration …. Marvel Avengers from Flickr licensed under CC-BY: Together from Flickr licensed under CC-BY-SA:
    25. 25. Digital literacy at Sussex? ?
    26. 26. Thank you – any questions? @jsecker @ukcopyrightlit
    27. 27. Further reading Fister, Barbara. “Practicing freedom in the digital library.” Library Journal, 26 August 2013. Available at: of-libraries/practicing-freedom-in-the-digital-library-reinventing-libraries/ Hinrichsen, J and Coombs (2013). The five resources of critical digital literacy: a framework for curriculum integration. Research in Learning Technology. 21: 21334. Jisc (2015) Developing students’ digital literacy: quick guide. LSE SADL Project: Secker, Jane (2012) Digital literacy support for researchers: the personalised approach. In: Priestner, Andy and Tilley, Elizabeth, (eds.) Personalising library services in higher education: the boutique approach. Ashgate, Farnham, UK, pp. 107 -125. Available at: Secker, J and Coonan, E. (2013) Rethinking Information Literacy: a practical framework for supporting learning. Facet Publishing: London. Secker, J. and Morrison C. (2016) Copyright and E-learning a guide for practitioners. Facet Publishing: London Tewell, E (2016) Putting critical information literacy into context: how and why librarians adopt critical practices in their teaching. In the Library with the Lead Pipe. critical-practices-in-their-teaching/ UNESCO (2015) Media and Information Literacy. Available at: development/media-literacy/mil-as-composite-concept/ White, D and Le Cornu, (2011) Visitors and Residents: a new typology for online engagement. First Monday. Available at: