ICEPOPS 2019 – My first Keynote

All attendees of the Icepops conference are standing outside under a tree and waving.
Eugen Stoica, 2019
Jane and Charlie by Lorna Campbell CC-BY

I attended the first ICEPOPS conference in 2018 and was a huge fan, so when they got in touch to say that they wanted to hold the 2nd ever ICEPOPS conference in Edinburgh for 2019, AND that they’d like me to give a keynote presentation. Gosh. I was over the moon. Especially since this was my first ever invitation to keynote.

Since the talk wasn’t recorded and slides really only provide a hint towards content, I thought I’d write a blog post around the key points of my keynote.

As mentioned I’m part of the Open Education Resources service here at The University of Edinburgh, and prior to working in open licensing my work had been focused in academic library learning services and technologies. This means my teaching and outreach are focused in the areas of what I like to call confidence building, particularly around:

  • using technologies provided by library and learning technology services
  • applying copyright and licensing knowledge into practice.

Fear of failure, fear of not being taken seriously, fear of your work not being ‘good enough’ is something that comes up again and again, and particularly when I’m talking to people about trying new technologies or opening up and sharing their content as Open Educational Resources. As experts in copyright, we ourselves are not always free of this fear. During the keynote I asked if folks could write or draw a story of their first experience at being an ‘expert’. Some shared their stories on the #Icepops2019 hashtag:

  Louise Smith @LibraryLou01: Speech bubble "Let me get back to you about that...." -> frantically sends an email to LIS-Copyseek. Act 1: stick figure + copyright symbol = FEAR. Act 2: Stick figure + copyright symbol = Research Opportunity Networking Fun. Act 3: Huzzah! stick figure dancing in the sunMy coprright ‘expert’ story involves me asking @cbowiemorrison who was VERY helpful and also assured me that most copyright questions actually aren’t obvious and straight forward... ‘it depends’

When we play a game although we strive to achieve the win condition, it can also create a safe space where losing the game or forfeiting a prize can be experienced away from fear.  Games and playfulness are spaces where failing is part of the process, sometimes even encouraged. “Games give experiences meaning, they provide a set of boundaries within a ‘safe’ environment to explore, think and ‘try things out’.” (Kapp, 2012)

I’ve been experimenting with playful methods of engaging and teaching copyright literacy for years now and have been very fortunate to receive encouragement from my line management (esp. Melissa Highton, Lorna Campbell, and Stuart Nicol) to put this into practice as part of our services.

Through this work I’ve developed my own recipe where learners are able to feel safe and engage playfully and creatively in order to experiment and learn. This includes adhering to the principles of the ‘magic circle’ (Huizinga, 1955; Salen & Zimmerman, 2004), and providing permission to play by encouraging a  lusory attitude’ (Bernard Suits, 1978) where all participants accept the arbitrary rules of a game or playful experience in order to facilitate the resulting experience of play.

1. Safe spaces to experiment with failure. 2. Support to immerse in play – choice. 3. Autonomy – intrinsic/internal motivation to engage.
The Magic Circle. Icons from Noun Project: Diversity by Nithinan Tatah, Self-motivation by Becris, & Choice by Millenials, CC BY

One of my first approaches was to create an OER Board Game Jam where I lead groups through the creation, licensing, and sharing of their very own board game as an open educational resource. Participants are provided with postcards of digitised and openly licensed images from our University of Edinburgh Collections and guided through game creation, all the while opening up conversations about resource use, copyright protection, and open licensing in relation to creating a new licensable object.

In the course of the sessions they:

  • Re-purpose openly licensed content
  • Identify restrictions of use
  • Consider potential use
  • Consider distribution
  • Licence own work
  • Share it out into the wild

I’d received feedback from staff that their practices had changed since attending playful sessions, but what I wanted was data on staff and student experiences of the OER Board Game Jam, their motivations to attend, and if and how they applied the learning afterwards. So I joined forces with Dr. Eva Murzyn from our School of Psychology and we undertook a series of focused interview groups between July and November 2017.

We found that, as suspected, participants had been attracted to attend by the playful approach of the session, and for those people the playfulness enhanced their engagement with copyright as a topic. Some expressed that their copyright use has improved, but it was not a universal sentiment. What did come through strongly was an appreciation for the hands-on practical experience of applying copyright knowledge to practice within the session. You can read the full report here: PTAS Research “Playful Learning – OER Board Games’:

We can create a game, we can invite others to join us in our lusory and playful spaces, but not everyone is going to be willing, able, or interested in playing our games. Variety, autonomy, and choice is key. These days I run a variety of training, information sessions, and workshops to provide staff and students with choice as to how they want to engage with and learn about copyright and open licensing.

Together with my colleague Eugen Stoica I run monthly ‘Copyright & Licensing’ training. We utilise fun examples, Eugen has a couple of great YouTube videos he uses to explain Parody and Pastiche relating back to the importance of Moral Rights, and we incorporate some of the great resources created by

I run pen and paper OER Board Game Jams, and have broadened this to include digital OER game creation using open-source tool Twine. You can view some of the Twine OER games experimentally created in my workshops on this Padlet:
Screenshot of the Padlet page
Gif it Up workshops have also been a success and I run regular beginner and intermediate sessions using openly licensed content from our own collections to create fun and wacky gifs. The University of Edinburgh’s gif game is looking sharp. I really enjoy these workshops as they create conversations around memes, gifs, moral rights and ethical responsibilities related to copyright.

You can view some of the weird and wonderful gifs created in these workshops on the below Padlet:

screenshot of the Padlet page

Following my keynote talk I ran everyone through a quick 45 minute version of the pen and paper OER Board Game Jam. below are a few tweets of the activity and resulting games!

The Copyright Escape! A co-operative game where players need to lead the Minotaur out, answering questions about copyright. Created at our table under 45 minutes in a board game jam facilitated by @SFarley_Charlie ! 'heart eyed emoji'


Big thanks again to Jane Secker and Chris Morrison of CopyrightUK for inviting and supporting my very first opportunity to keynote. You’re brilliant and doing fantastic work in raising the profile of copyright literacy. Thank you!

ICEPOPS2019 photos and presentations can be viewed here:


Huizinga, J. (1955), Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture, Beacon Press, Boston, MA.

Kapp, K.M., (2012), The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education, John Wiley & Sons

Murzyn, E., Farley, S. (2018).,PTAS Research “Playful Learning – OER Board Games’ full report:

Salen, K., Zimmerman, E., (2003), Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, MIT Press

Salen, K. & Zimmerman, E. (2004), Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA

Whitton, N. (2018). Playful learning: tools, techniques, and tactics. Research in Learning Technology, 26.

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