Metaliteracy in the Disciplines

Michele Forte, Trudi Jacobson, and Emer O’Keefe were successful in applying for a State University of New York (SUNY) Conversations in the Disciplines about metaliteracy.  This intercampus one-day conference entitled “Developing Metaliterate Learners: Transforming Literacy Across Disciplines” will take place at the Center for Distance Learning (CDL) at Empire State College on Friday, December 13, 2013.

Learners – students and educators alike – are no longer simply information consumers but information producers in a participatory social media environment. Learners increasingly work collaboratively, creating and sharing digital information. We need to be adaptable within an information landscape that is complex and ever-changing. The metaliteracy model emphasizes these evolving literacy concepts, as well as the critical role played by metacognitive components, but many disciplines still view information creation as something done solely through traditional means, and solely by scholars in the field. How might disciplines benefit from new and collaborative modes of information creation? Can traditional models resist the changes wrought by Web 2.0? How might a conversation about expanding these conceptions bring new and fruitful ideas to these fields of study?

Librarians have ample opportunities to learn new theories and methods connected to information literacy in all its guises, but rarely have the chance to engage in macro discussion with disciplinary faculty members about the changes to the intersections of their fields. Usually conversations center around a specific class period, and what the librarian will teach to the professor’s students.

This day of conversation will allow members of both groups to engage together in learning and discussion about cutting-edge topics surrounding metaliteracy, the information literacy of today’s information and technology environment.

Tom Mackey and Trudi Jacobson will provide the keynote presentation to launch the event. Randy Hensley, Head of Information Services at Newman Library, Baruch College, CUNY, will be the afternoon keynote speaker, focusing on the student perspective. There will also be morning and afternoon reactions panels, with librarians and faculty members from community colleges, 4-year schools, a university, and a BOCES participating.

Registration will open shortly, and preference will be given to pairs made up of a librarian and a faculty member in a discipline who plan to attend together.

Meta or MEGA literacy!

Metaliteracy has been featured recently in two new publications.  A new UNESCO document entitled Media and Information Literacy for Knowledge Societies (2013) provides a brief definition of metaliteracy and makes it central to the conclusion.  According to this new publication:

As an umbrella term, it covers many of the other literacies. It also seems to overlap with new literacies such as multiliteracies and global literacy. It is a metaliteracy. It is transversal in its nature and can be seen as an iceberg concept which is much bigger than what it is seen at first sight. Information literacy can be easily called a megaliteracy which is composed of many other skills and literacies (p. 85).

As a comprehensive and unifying metaliteracy, the idea of a megaliteracy is not needed, since the the meta already encompasses this idea.  But this is an intriguing way to look at it and certainly addresses the interconnected nature of emerging literacies.  Great to see metaliteracy brought into the conversation.

We also note another new publication from Betty Hurley-Dasgupta, Carol Yeager, and Catherine Bliss from SUNY Empire State College about the first MOOC they offered in the SUNY System entitled Creativity and Multicultural Communication.  The authors make several references to metaliteracy in their article cMOOC and Global Learning: An Authentic Alternative in The Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN).  According to the authors,

Clearly, we need to scaffold the development of metaliteracy skills for learning through cMOOCs. Some scaffolding could be accomplished by incorporating more self-assessment into the MOOC. For future MOOCs, we plan to incorporate shared rubrics to help participants assess their own metaliteracy skills, (Yeager,, 2013, p. 144).

This is an important point that demonstrates the potential impact of a metaliteracy perspective on the cMOOC learning experience, and how learners could gain new insights and knowledge in these open and collaborative spaces.  We definitely need metaliteracy rubrics for MOOCs to enhance the experience for independent and collaborative learners.