We welcome this guest posting from Holly Wehmeyer, Communications & Marketing Coordinator and Educator from the Intensive English Language Program at the University at Albany, SUNY. Holly participated in the first session of our Open edX MOOC Empowering Yourself in a Post-Truth World and created a Metaliteracy Infographic as her final project. Our Post-Truth MOOC is now in a self-paced mode so feel free to join and create your own project!
Characteristics of a Metaliterate Social Media User
by Holly Wehmeyer
For my final project, I chose to create an infographic on the characteristics of a Metaliterate social media user. I have watched the social media space become polarized and partisan along with the nation’s politics and wondered about my role in developing online communities of trust. I have watched friends and strangers argue past one another, post inflammatory memes, and eventually unfollow each other. How are we to compromise on important issues if we can’t even talk to one another? Taking this course was one step I chose to take in becoming part of the solution to this problem.
The infographic attempts to draw on the concepts we’ve learned in the course to help social media users reflect on how they approach social media and what and how they share information. I wanted to create a simple guide to being a responsible online citizen. I created the graphic using Canva, an online design tool that I’ve used previously while working on newsletters and other publications. It allows the user to create simple designs and offers a number of free icons and other graphics. I also used quotations and information from Mackey and Jacobson’s book, Metaliterate Learning for the Post-Truth World, which was not required reading for the course (other than the Introduction and first chapter), but which I read on my own.
Working on this final project certainly involved all four metaliteracy learning domains. In the behavioral realm, I was reminded of what I should be DOING – how I should be interacting with other people on social media – in responsible and civic-minded ways. My actions have consequences, so I should strive for the action that avoids harm and creates constructive dialog. In the cognitive realm, I’ve learned a lot about confirmation bias, inoculation theory, ideas about experts, and more. My background in Journalism had already given me a good grounding in the way media outlets choose photos, write captions, and construct headlines, but the course readings were an excellent reminder of how things have changed since I worked in publishing in the 1990s. In the affective domain, this course actually made me feel a lot better about my own behavior. I haven’t been doing such a terrible job online as I perhaps thought! However, there is always room for improvement. The course helped me recognize why I’m reacting strongly to certain posts or why I feel frustrated when my arguments don’t convince my opponent. Finally, in the metacognitive domain, I have reflected frequently on why I post certain stories and why I have certain reactions to other people’s posts. It has helped me ask questions of myself, many of which I’ve put into my final project.
In conclusion, by modeling the characteristics of a metaliterate social media user, both through this infographic and through my online behavior, I hope to teach others about the value of metaliteracy, to build those communities of trust, and to help return our online discourse to a place of civility and discovery.