by Katie Greer
I begin a recent article published in the Journal of Academic Librarianship, “A pedagogy of care for information literacy and metaliteracy asynchronous online instruction” with a question asked by Nel Noddings a generation ago: “What would schools be like under an ethic of caring?” (Noddings, 1984). While Noddings was referring to the K-12 environment, I strongly believe that we could and should be asking the same thing of the higher education environment.
While it may seem counterintuitive to prioritize care in the post-secondary environment–our students in higher education are technically adults and responsible for their lives and decisions, some might say–think back to the last time you had a family emergency, or an illness, or an argument with your partner. How productive were you then? Traditional-age college students tend to be on their own for the first time, navigating new responsibilities and new relationships, which can be and feel very overwhelming. As demographics shift and more of our students fit into the “non-traditional” category, we will see more veterans, more adults who are balancing caregiving and full-time jobs with advancing their education, more who are returning to school after many years and may be overwhelmed by all of the technological changes that have taken place. I know I have seen every one of these scenarios and more in my students.
Metaliteracy is a natural fit within an ethic or a pedagogy of care; the model’s incorporation of the affective domain of learning both acknowledges and prioritizes affect’s important role in teaching and learning.
Our information environment is saturated with the affective. Social media’s algorithmic deep learning front loads content for users that triggers our moral outrage–over, and over, and over (Fisher, 2022). Users are constantly subjected to extremes and overreactions. The result, as we are all painfully aware, is a society that grows ever more divided and radicalized.
It is in this chaotic information landscape that learners must be able to rationally find, evaluate, create, share, and ethically use information. To be effective at these tasks requires an acknowledgement of the affective information environment–which may be extremely difficult for learners who have never before critically queried their own internal biases, cognitive authorities, or epistemic bubbles. In my article, I argue that metaliteracy can provide the key to effectively function in our socially networked spaces, while a pedagogy of care provides the support needed for learners to be comfortable taking those deep critical dives into the affective and other metaliteracy learning objectives.
Affect and care get trickier in the asynchronous online environment. As I mention in my article, I don’t see my students, aside from one required meeting at the beginning of the semester (and even then we may just be on the phone). Online activity logs in the learning management system do not allow me to gauge if my students are struggling, or suffering, in the same way that I would be able to visually assess or pull them aside to check on them in a physical classroom. I can reach out virtually, but oftentimes due to the nature of this instruction the burden lies with the student to communicate if they are in distress and need extra help. That can be a heavy ask for those who are already struggling. As the article details, by prioritizing care in my course design and my interactions with students I create a space for learners that anticipates their needs, prioritizes learning and a growth mindset, and builds relationships instead of focusing on ranked assessments. My students’ metaliteracy learning is better for it, and their mental health is better for it.
I chuckled this year when a student commented in a course evaluation that “the professor is a sweetheart and does care about her students and their well being!” Professional blushing aside–that student was not the only one who mentioned caring in the evaluations, which confirms for me that I’m on the right path. I hope you will join me.
Fisher, M. (2022). The chaos machine. Back Bay Books.
Noddings, N. (1984). A feminine approach to ethics and moral education. University of California Press.
Katie Greer is an Associate Professor and the Fine and Performing Arts Librarian at Oakland University in Rochester, MI. She is pursuing a PhD in Higher Education Leadership and is grateful to have had Dr. Thomas Mackey as a mentor for all things metaliteracy and higher education over the past two years.
Editor’s note: We thank Katie Greer for this wonderful guest post about her latest article for JAL! Tom has very much appreciated the chance to serve as Katie’s metaliteracy mentor as part of her doctoral program.- Tom and Trudi
Metaliteracy MOOCs Continue to Reach Learners Internationally
Since the launch of our two Coursera MOOCs, Metaliteracy: Empowering Yourself in a Connected World in 2016, and Empowering Yourself in a Post-Truth World in 2019, we have reached learners from around the world. So far, the first MOOC has enrolled 4,870 learners and the second has had 3,549 total learners worldwide. At times, we have been lucky enough to hear directly from the participants who successfully completed one or both of the MOOCs. Recently, Dr. Haleema Anwar from CMH Lahore Medical College and Institute of Dentistry in Lahore, Pakistan contacted us about her experience with the Coursera MOOC Empowering Yourself in a Post-Truth World. According to Haleema:
I am a final-year medical student, a researcher, and an author. I discovered the MOOC while going through the recommendation of courses for me on my app. This was a topic I wanted insight into.
I learned that there is a diverse variety of roles that a person can take to create a community of trust in a Post truth world- leading to prosperity.
As part of the MOOC experience, participants apply the “learner as producer” role of metaliteracy to create a final digital media project. We share with permission, Haleema’s final project for the MOOC entitled “Metaliteracy in Action”:
Haleema describes this project in the following way:
This mind map is to walk us through the idea of meta-literacy and its practical implication.
The credit for the content is directed to a course by SUNY “Empowering yourself in a post-truth world”, a course I found on Coursera.
A central theme I learned is- “meta literacy is an integrated model for us to be a lifelong learner and to create a truthful community”
Thanks to Haleema for sharing such valuable insights about metaliteracy after completing our Coursera MOOC.
We always welcome this kind of feedback about our open metaliteracy projects! If you complete one of our MOOCs or any of our Metaliteracy Learning Resources, feel free to drop us a line and let us know if you would like to share your work via our blog.
To explore an analysis of the Post-Truth MOOC and how it was designed, read Embedding Metaliteracy in the Design of a Post-Truth MOOC: Building Communities of Trust (Mackey, 2020) in Communications in Information Literacy.
Tom and Trudi
From the Literature No. 2
This second From the Literature post brings to your attention a 2022 article by Alison Hicks and Annemaree Lloyd, “Reaching into the basket of doom: Learning outcomes, discourse and information literacy,” published in the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science.
Hicks’ and Lloyd’s article, the third in a series, “employs the theory of practice architectures and a discourse analytical approach to examine the learning goals of five recent English-language models of information literacy” (p.1). The five models, all developed since 2010, include two from the UK: ANCIL and SCONUL’s Seven Pillars, and three from the US: AACU, the ACRL Framework, and Metaliteracy. Table 1 provides an illuminating overview of the origins and characteristics of each of the models, which is then explored in more detail in the literature review section. The authors compare these new models from the “second wave of constructivist-focussed information literacy models (Hicks and Lloyd, 2016)” with first wave models, including the ACRL Standards. [Hicks A and Lloyd A (2016) It takes a community to build a framework: Information literacy within intercultural settings. Journal of Information Science 42(3): 334–343.]
The authors state that
“Since their creation, these models have been widely implemented within North American and UK systems of higher education and have been welcomed by teaching librarians…and teaching faculty, particularly in the area of writing and composition studies…. However, somewhat surprisingly, given the role that models play within teaching librarianship, there have been few attempts to examine and critique these guidelines” (p.4)
(Please see their article for the authors they cite in connection with these statements.) Grounding their work in the theory of practice architecture, they use discourse analysis to examine the learning goals and outcomes of the five models.
This analysis suggests that there are 12 common dimensions across the five models, and the authors provide details of these dimensions in Appendix 1. Hicks and Lloyd assert that the 12 dimensions can be grouped into two categories, Mappying and Applying (p. 6).
The Mapping category encompasses learning outcomes that introduce the learner to accepted ways of knowing or what is valued by and how things work within higher education. Comprised of seven dimensions, including Access, Comply, Disseminate, Evaluate, Identify, Manage and Search, this category inculcates induction into the ways in which information is understood, interpreted and organised within new or specific academic cultures. One of the most prominent emphases within this category is on the mapping of information systems that will contribute to academic success, whether this is the information tools or the information sources that will be useful for academic study. (p. 6)
The Applying category encompasses learning outcomes that encourage the learner to implement or integrate ideas into their own practice, including to their own questions, to themselves or to their experience. Forming a more personally focussed approach to learning, this category comprises five dimensions including Analyse, Determine need, Maintain, Reflect and Transfer. (p. 7)
The discussion section not only examines these findings, but also touches upon those aspects of information literacy from the first wave that were not found in the analysis of the five models.
The implications from the authors’ research have a potential major impact on information literacy in higher education:
Beyond helping to demonstrate areas of practice that have been overlooked, this research provides insight into how the writing of learning outcomes could be improved, including by making the language more specific. This research also calls for the broadening of research methods that are used to create institutional models and guidelines…. (p. 9)
As with our first look into the literature, we encourage you to read this critically important article, as this brief overview can not hope to capture the full impact of the authors’ work. It will also afford you the opportunity to understand the article’s title.
Hicks, Alison, and Annemaree Lloyd. 2022. “Reaching Into the Basket of Doom: Learning Outcomes, Discourse and Information Literacy.” Journal of Librarianship and Information Science 0(0). 10.1177/09610006211067216
Metaliteracy Presentation at OLC Accelerate Explores Online Courses in the Digital Media Arts
How does metaliteracy support creative and collaborative learning in fully online courses? This year’s Online Learning Consortium’s Accelerate 2022 conference featured a presentation by Tom Mackey about applying metaliteracy in Digital Media Arts courses at SUNY Empire State College. The presentation, entitled Effective Strategies in the Digital Media Arts to Inspire Creativity and Collaboration examines how metaliteracy influenced the development of several online courses that envision learners as knowledge producers. According to the abstract for this presentation:
Online courses in the Digital Media Arts offer effective models for designing innovative learning activities in a wide range of disciplinary settings. Several courses in the Digital Media Arts at SUNY Empire State College, such as Digital Storytelling, Ethics of Digital Art and Design, and Information Design have been developed to include open educational resources (OER) to replace textbooks. In addition, openly-available digital resources have been curated in these courses to support individual and collaborative learning activities for producing original and remixed information.
As part of this presentation, the learning outcomes for each course are shared along with specific pedagogical strategies that have proven to be effective in each class. These techniques are transferrable to a wide range of modalities and disciplinary settings beyond those described. The presentation includes several digital media projects produced by students as well as feedback from learners about the experience.
If you have questions about these fully online courses taught by Tom Mackey at SUNY Empire State College, feel free to reach out any time.
Metaliteracy Featured at the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) Global program
The application of metaliteracy in a Digital Arts course at SUNY Empire State College about Ethics of Digital Art & Design was featured at the 2022 Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) Global program. IELOL Global is a leadership development program that is facilitated by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) and features narratives about collaborative work in relation to both local and global digital learning initiatives. Tom Mackey was invited to share a story about his teaching of metaliteracy in relation to one of the the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He presented Reflections on Quality Education: From Cyprus to Online to the 2022 cohort during the “Discovery Phase” of the program. The presentation explores the translation of a blended, international residency about Ethics of Digital Art and Design into a fully online course in the Digital Arts. He wrote about this course previously in an essay entitled “Translating a Blended Cyprus Residency Study in the Digital Arts to Online” for All About Mentoring, a SUNY Empire State college publication.
Mackey, T. P., “Translating a Blended Cyprus Residency Study in the Digital Arts to Online” All About Mentoring Issue 55 Autumn 2021, (pp. 37-42).
From the Literature
We will periodically highlight an article or other resource that proposes methods for using metaliteracy in practice, or the theory connected with metaliteracy. This initial From the Literature post brings to your attention a 2021 article by Kristen Schuster and Kristine N, Stewart, “Using Constructive Alignment to Support Metaliteracy,” published in the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science.
This article provides a case study that allows the authors to highlight key pedagogical suggestions and insights that have the potential to impact teaching and learning. The course that is the subject of the study focuses on XML and theories of knowledge organization in which many international postgraduate students were enrolled. Schuster and Stewart examine course assessment-related components and how metaliteracy, particularly metacognition, may be integrated to enhance student success. The pedagogical elements that they raise might be used in a wide variety of courses to meet the same goal of student success.
The authors consider the interplay between metaliteracy, constructive alignment, and learning-oriented assessments. They define constructive alignment as “a model of curriculum design in which teaching/learning activities and assessment tasks are systematically aligned” (p. 4) with the learning outcomes that an instructor has identified. Learning oriented assessment (LOA) supports the use of a range of assessment types that provide learners with “regular and applicable feedback” (p. 5) and that lends itself to instructors and students co-constructing assessments and feedback mechanisms.
Schuster and Stewart write,
This process of co-construction offers opportunities to scaffold curriculum and encourage students to actively acquire, transfer, and enhance their understanding(s) of the abilities and theories taught during a module. This approach shifts students’ focus away from performing certain study abilities and shifts it toward measuring their success against abstract frameworks for success. (p. 5)
They continue, drawing together constructive alignment and LOA with metaliteracy,
This shift has the potential to empower them to collaboratively and dynamically use curricular content to actively integrate their knowledge and experiences into teaching and assessment frameworks. This, in turn, enhances the types of work and feedback students are willing to engage in and has the potential to expand their metaliteracy practices beause they are able to synthesize new, taught abilities with their pre-existing skills. (p. 5)
Schuster and Stewart were working with international and English as a Foreign Language students during the fall 2017 and spring 2019 semesters. Toward the end of their article, they discuss how the course instructor used metaliteracy to make significant revisions to the course, including assessments, lectures, and seminar activities (p. 5).
The assessment techniques and strategies that the authors outline are transferable to a wide range of courses. Their insight that led to the incorporation of metaliteracy is noted in one in the Key Points they highlight on the first page of the article, “Metaliteracy can be adapted and used to develop innovative forms of assessment” (p.1).
We encourage you to read this important article, as this brief overview can not hope to capture the full impact of the authors’ work.
Schuster, Kristen, and Kristine N. Stewart. 2021. ‘Using Constructive Alignment to Support Metaliteracy in International Classrooms’. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science 62 (1): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.3138/jelis.62.1-2019-0077
Metaliteracy Book Reviewed in College & Research Libraries (C&RL)
How do practitioners in the field respond to our latest book Metaliteracy in a Connected World: Developing Learners as Producers? To find out, read a book review by Cal Murgu, Instructional Design Librarian at Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada in College & Research Libraries Vol 83, No 5 (2022).
According to the author of this newest review:
In Metaliteracy in a Connected World, Thomas Mackey and Trudi Jacobson make a strong case for the adoption of the metaliteracy framework, a pedagogical model that seeks to empower learners to be reflective and informed consumers and producers of information in an increasingly connected (digital) world. This monograph builds on Mackey and Jacobson’s previous efforts, spanning two decades, to normalize metaliteracy as the framework for teaching and learning in libraries.(MURGU, 2022, P. 863)
Murgu highlights the theoretical chapters (1,2 and 6) as well as those focused on practice (3, 4, and 5). He is especially interested in the way the book applies the metaliteracy model to open pedagogical settings as defined in chapters 3 and 4. This latest review joins the insights offered by Jodie R Heap from Staffordshire University in a review in the Journal of Information Literacy.
We appreciate this interest in our latest book and welcome your insights about how metaliteracy is applied in a wide range of disciplines and pedagogical settings.
Tom and Trudi
MURGU, Cal. Metaliteracy in a Connected World: Developing Learners as Producers. Thomas P. Mackey and Trudi E. Jacobson, eds. Chicago, IL: ALA Neal-Schuman, 2022. 232p. $64.99 (ISBN: 978-0-8389-4944-3). Special issue of C&RL, edited by Nicole Pagowsky, [S.l.], v. 83, n. 5, p. 863, Sep. 2022. ISSN 2150-6701. Available at: <https://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/25597/33504>. Date accessed: 18 Sep. 2022. doi:https://doi.org/10.5860/crl.83.5.863.
Metaliteracy Virtual Presentation at the “National level Symposium on Skilling for Higher Education” in India
A new presentation by Trudi Jacobson and Tom Mackey entitled Developing a Metaliteracy Mindset: Benefits for Yourself, Employers, and Society was featured as part of an invited talk at the “National level Symposium on Skilling for Higher Education” in India. Tom and Trudi were invited to present at the symposium by Dr. Tessy Thadathil, Vice Principal, Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce, Pune. This event was organized by the Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce in cooperation with the Symbiosis Centre for Skill Development. The Symposium was funded by Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), which was launched in 2013 to provide strategic funding to eligible State Higher Educational Institutions and supported by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.
The metaliteracy session focused on shifting mindsets for a connected world:
How do you shift mindsets for today’s complex information environment? The opportunities for producing and sharing informative content today are myriad, collaborative, far-reaching, and fluid. In today’s global society, businesses need ethical information producers and self-directed learners who are able to keep up with dramatic changes to the work environment. In your personal life and communities, you may face the same change-related challenges. Regardless of the setting, you need to consider how you contribute to a connected world as an effective information evaluator and reflective information producer.
Explore the slides for this presentation and note the survey response to two questions about the metaliterate learner roles:
Interactive Metaliteracy Workshop for Developing Learners as Producers
Trudi Jacobson and Tom Mackey facilitated an interactive webinar entitled Teaching with Metaliteracy: Developing Learners as Producers for the American Library Association (ALA) eLearning Solutions continuing education program on July 14, 2022. The webinar was based on Tom and Trudi’s latest book for ALA Neal-Schuman, Metaliteracy in a Connected World: Developing Learners as Producers.
You may want to walk through the slide show asynchronously to gain new insights about the content presented. All of the interactive components are still available so feel free to jump in and contribute to the following:
- Mentimeter Survey: What are your goals for today’s workshop?
- Padlet #1: Which metaliteracy role do you think would transform student learning? Identify one change you could make to your instruction to facilitate this growth.
- Padlet #2: Identify one metaliteracy learning objective you would like to apply in your teaching. Why did you select this one?
Feel free to explore the ideas generated, contribute your own, and/or develop your own metaliteracy workshop based on this model!
Third Academic Minute Program about Metaliteracy
The June 27, 2022, Academic Minute program featured Trudi Jacobson, and, of course, metaliteracy. The episode is entitled, Students Reflect on their Roles and Responsibilities as Wikipedia Editors. It is the first in a week of episodes by professors and instructors who teach using the Wiki Education initiative. Although the program airs on a number of National Public Radio (NPR) stations, it is produced here in Albany, NY at WAMC. This makes Trudi’s affiliation, which is listed as North-West University (NWU) in South Africa rather than the University at Albany, seem a bit odd, but in order to appear on the program, one needs to be actively affiliated with an institution of higher learning. Trudi is Distinguished Librarian Emerita at The University at Albany, SUNY and both she and Tom Mackey were appointed Extraordinary Professors at North-West University (NWU) in South Africa, soon after presenting a metaliteracy Prestige Lecture as well as keynotes and workshops there in 2019. As part of their honorary appointments, their latest Prestige Lectures at NWU continue in a series this year and next.
This is the third Academic Minute episode that features metaliteracy. Tom Mackey recorded the first, Metaliterate Leaners, which aired on May 18, 2020. Trudi’s first was Renewable Assisgnments, Wikipedia, and Metaliteracy, from December 15, 2021. As indicated by the name of the series, these are quick listens. You might want to give them a try if you’ve not already heard them. This newest episode includes quotes from two students who made connections between their work as information producers on Wikipedia, metaliteracy and learning.
Feel free to use these short clips as part of your teaching practices related to metaliteracy!