Metaliteracy at the Course Level: A look at “Revising for Metaliteracy” from the forthcoming Metaliteracy in Practice book

Donna Witek and Teresa Grettano of The University of Scranton offer the following preview of their chapter, “Revising for Metaliteracy: Flexible Course Design to Support Social Media Pedagogy,” appearing in the forthcoming book Metaliteracy in Practice.

What does a course designed intentionally for metaliteracy—as both a pedagogical method as well as a learning outcome—look like? How can a course’s goals, assignments, and schedule be deliberately composed and structured to develop metaliteracy in both students and instructors? And why might instructors choose to use social media in their courses, not despite but because of the complexities that accompany these technologies when they are invited into the learning community of the classroom?

This chapter offers answers to these questions by describing, analyzing, and reflecting on a 200-level Writing course called Rhetoric & Social Media, in which students “investigate rhetoric through and the rhetoric of social media.” This course was co-designed and co-taught by the authors—an information literacy librarian and a rhetoric/composition professor—for the first time at their institution in spring 2011. At its inception the course focused on the social media platform Facebook as both the primary object of analysis and vehicle for learning in the course. By 2013, it became clear to the authors that a course intentionally designed to develop both information literacy and rhetorical and critical practice in students on social media needed to address more platforms than Facebook, and needed to be flexible in how it did so. To this end, the authors significantly revised the course in time for the spring 2013 semester to include Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, in addition to Facebook, with a restructured course schedule and new learning exercises (i.e., assignments) developed to take advantage of this expansion in scope.

This chapter shares with readers this revision process: what the revisions were, the authors’ pedagogical rationale for the revisions made, the outcomes of the revisions (i.e., how they played out in practice in the classroom), and the relationship between this revision process and the development of metaliteracy in all involved—students and instructors/authors alike. Like a companion chapter in this collection, this chapter models a metaliterate approach to course design through its method of analyzing elements of the syllabus over time, in order to build an argument for what metaliteracy at the course-level looks like. It also makes connections between the goals of rhetorical theory and the goals of metaliteracy, connections that can be leveraged by information literacy educators to further integrate these domains within and across the curriculum.

Sneak Peak #2 into Metaliteracy in Practice

As promised, we are posting chapter previews, written by the authors, for the forthcoming book Metaliteracy in Practice, due out in late 2015 or early 2016 from ALA Neal-Schuman.

Chapter 2:

The Politics of Information: Students as Creators in a Metaliteracy Context

Lauren Wallis, Christopher Newport University

Andrew Battista, New York University

The recent revision of the Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education opens a space for students to reflect on their position within an inherently political imbroglio of information, both in traditional scholarly formats and in open online spaces. When students visit the library, it is often at the behest of their professors, who expect that librarians will tell them how to find peer-reviewed journals. Meanwhile, the Framework, with its grounding in metaliteracy, encourages knowledge practices and dispositions in which students see their own encounters with information as opportunities to question authority, challenge expertise, and recognize the merit of nontraditional forms of evidence.

As the Framework was being revised, and as discussions of metaliteracy as a guiding principle for information literacy pedagogy emerged, we taught a one-credit class called The Politics of Information. In this class, we asked several questions: Who creates information? What information gets produced and circulated, and what information does not?  Who has access to information, and how can the dissemination of information be an instrument of social control, inside and outside of the academy? As we taught, we realized that our core teaching moves—to destabilize authority and to encourage students to create digital products and reflect metacognitively on their learning experience—dovetail with the goals of metaliteracy.

We are excited that our chapter, “The Politics of Information: Students as Creators in a Metaliteracy Context,” is included in the forthcoming Metaliteracy in Practice volume. Our chapter makes the connections between the learning outcomes in The Politics of Information course and metaliteracy explicit. We began with the idea that information is a social construct, not a static, amorphous entity that reifies academic authority. We hope that this chapter, along with the others in the volume, offers concrete ways to adopt the goals of metaliteracy into the information literacy classroom.