Metaliteracy and Maker Literacy

We are delighted to share this guest post by Sarah Nagle, Creation and Innovation Services Librarian at Miami University, Oxford Ohio. Sarah explores the maker movement, its tenuous fit with the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy, and what she defines as a strong alignment with metaliteracy.

Metaliteracy as a Bridge Between Maker Literacy and the ACRL Framework

Sarah Nagle, Creation and Innovation Services Librarian

The popularity of makerspaces has soared across the world since the onset of the Maker Movement in the mid-2000s. Makerspaces are collaborative working and learning spaces that often include technology such as 3D printers, sewing machines, laser cutters, and other equipment. While community and public library makerspaces led the charge in the early years of the maker movement, maker-centered learning has blossomed in the realm of education, becoming a popular learning tool in K-12 schools, and more recently in higher education. Often, university makerspaces live in the campus library. University libraries can provide broad access to communal, collaborative spaces for the campus community, making them an ideal location for makerspaces. Maker-centered learning has a strong multidisciplinary, collaborative aspect, and makerspaces traditionally put value on the open sharing of things and ideas, something that is deeply embedded in the spirit of libraries.

As makerspaces have grown in popularity in education, some important projects have arisen to study the benefits and outcomes of maker-centered learning. Agency by Design (AbD) (Clapp et al., 2017) is a multi-year research project that has studied maker-centered learning. Although the project focused mainly on K-12 education, many of the findings can apply to maker-centered learning for any age level. AbD developed a Framework for Maker-Centered Learning, which focuses on maker empowerment and design sensitivity. A prominent framework for maker-centered learning in higher education is the Maker Literacies Project (Wallace, et al., 2018), an IMLS-funded initiative started at the University of Texas Arlington, has developed a list of maker competencies for higher education, in addition to providing a wide range of examples of makerspace course integrations. A common thread for maker-centered learning frameworks is the development of a maker mindset, which places emphasis on empowerment, failure positivity, and critical thinking. Often absent from maker-centered learning frameworks is a strong emphasis on the acquisition of specific skills. In other words, even though students are learning specific tools, technologies, and software, the enduring value that they receive from maker-centered learning experiences is primarily related to mindset development.

The question of how maker-centered learning connects to information literacy instruction remains largely unanswered. Since moving from public to academic library makerspaces in 2018, I have grappled with how to bridge maker-centered learning with my library’s information literacy instructional mission, which focuses heavily on the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy. Attempting to map maker literacies to the ACRL Framework can be a difficult task; there are many similarities, but there are also many outcomes of maker-centered learning that don’t fit perfectly within the six frames. Then I began reading about metaliteracy and discovered that the concept provides an excellent overarching model for connecting experiential learning competencies like maker literacy to the ACRL Framework.

Metaliteracy places emphasis on learners as active, collaborative, and introspective creators. This perspective on information literacy broadens the scope of library instruction and makes room for new and innovative literacies, such as maker literacy. Below are some of the important ways that metaliteracy encompasses the outcomes of maker-centered learning.

  • Shift from consumer to creator – Goal 3 of the 2018 Metaliteracy Goals and Learning Objectives includes students’ ability to view themselves as producers of information. An important outcome of maker-centered learning focuses on this shift as well. Rooted in the ideals of the maker movement, the shift from consumer to creator fundamentally changes students’ outlook and connects closely with the theme of empowerment. Students are no longer blindly consuming information and things, but rather looking critically at all aspects of the designed world around them, with a confidence in their ability to analyze, tinker with, and design new objects.
  • Empowerment – Learner empowerment is mentioned in the metaliteracy documentation as an outcome of metacognition and metaliterate learning. Empowerment is also a key component of maker-centered learning frameworks. The ultimate outcome of the AbD Framework for Maker-Centered Learning is Maker Empowerment. This is defined as “A sensitivity to the designed dimension of objects and systems, along with the inclination and capacity to shape one’s world through building, tinkering, re/designing, or hacking” (Agency by Design, n.d.). In other words, maker-centered learning helps students critically evaluate the world around them, understand how things work, and gain confidence in their own ability to fix, improve upon, and create things.
  • Civic mindedness – One characteristic of metaliterate learners is their tendency to be civic minded. Civic mindedness is also a byproduct of maker-centered learning. When students experience empowerment through maker-centered learning, this empowerment begins to extend beyond themselves, often resulting in students’ commitment to use their newfound agency to make a difference in the world at large. A hallmark of the maker movement is the propensity of makers to use their skills to give back to their communities. A recent example is the maker community’s response to shortages of PPE and medical devices during the COVID-19 pandemic. When stories began circulating of PPE shortages, makers worldwide immediately stepped up in huge ways to design, develop, and manufacture face masks, shields, and even parts for medical devices such as ventilators. AbD identifies “Community Making” as one of the primary benefits of maker-centered learning, defining it as, “Finding opportunities to make things that are meaningful to one’s community and taking ownership of that process of making, either independently or with others” (Clapp et al., 2017, p. 41).
  • Metacognition – Metacognition is an integral component of metaliteracy, as one of the four domains of metaliterate learning. Although the current literature and frameworks on maker literacy do not explicitly address metacognition in maker-centered learning, the concept is certainly interconnected with the maker learning process. The maker mindset involves critical evaluation of one’s own beliefs and outlooks. In all of my makerspace instruction sessions, I start by introducing students to the maker mindset, which gives students the opportunity to understand and evaluate their own shift in thinking as they develop themselves as makers. Additionally, Wallace et al. (2018) discuss how maker learning activities were more effective when faculty members included self-reflection in the assignment. They describe how the addition of journaling or other self-reflective components to maker assignments increased student growth. This metacognitive step also contributes to maker empowerment, because when students understand the elements of mindset development, they have the ability to control their own learning.

As more academic libraries implement makerspaces, academic library maker educators may face pressure to demonstrate how maker literacy fits with the ACRL Framework. Metaliteracy not only expands students’ expertise of information literacy to include rapidly changing digital environments, it also has the potential to be the bridge that connects newly forming innovative literacies, including maker literacy, to the ACRL Framework. By embracing mindset development rather than skill acquisition, information literacy instruction has the potential to help students develop lifelong practices and viewpoints that will continue to serve them long after they graduate.

References

Agency by Design. (n.d.). The Framework for Maker-Centered Learning. http://www.agencybydesign.org/explore-the-framework

Clapp, E. P., Ross, J., Ryan, J. O., & Tishman, S. (2017). Maker-centered learning: empowering young people to shape their worlds. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wallace, M., Trkay, G., Peery, K., Chivers, M, Radniecki, T. (2018, August 3-5). Maker Competencies and the Undergraduate Curriculum. Paper presented at the 2018 International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces, Stanford, CA. Retrieved from https://rc.library.uta.edu/uta-ir/handle/10106/27518

Sarah Nagle is Creation and Innovation Services Librarian at Miami University in Ohio, where she supports transdisciplinary projects and course integrations relating to a variety of maker and innovation topics. Sarah’s scholarly interests include inclusivity in the maker movement and how maker-centered learning can enhance learning both in informal environments and higher education. 

Metaliteracy Recording from LIT Virtual Conference Now Online

Image of Webex recording of metaliteracy presentation.

The Webex recording of the metaliteracy presentation at the Learning with Innovative Technology (LIT) Conference Virtual Conference is now available online. The session recording entitled Preparing Metaliterate Learners for the College Environment with SUNY’s iSucceed College Success Course by Trudi Jacobson, Kelsey O’Brien and Tom Mackey examines the metaliteracy module designed for the Lumen Learning iSucceed College Success course.

This fully open and flexible resource was developed for SUNY OER Services and is adaptable to both K-12 and higher education settings.The presentation explores the current learning environment, including the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, provides an overview of the iSucceed College Success Course, and takes a deep dive into the metaliteracy module based on the metaliteracy framework. Several suggestions for adapting the metaliteracy module to your setting are discussed. This talk also refers to openly available resources for teaching with metaliteracy, including videos, interactive learning objects, and specific segments from the iSucceed module.

All of the slides from the presentation Preparing Metaliterate Learners for the College Environment with SUNY’s iSucceed College Success Course are available as well. The LIT conference web site at SUNY Empire State College includes this presentation, along with all of the recorded presentations from this event.

Metaliteracy Presentation at LIT Virtual Conference

The Learning with Innovative Technology (LIT) Conference at SUNY Empire State College will include a presentation by Trudi Jacobson, Kelsey O’Brien and Tom Mackey about the development of a metaliteracy module for the Lumen Learning iSucceed College Success course. The presentation, entitled Preparing Metaliterate Learners for the College Environment with SUNY’s iSucceed College Success Course, will take place at this virtual conference on Friday, July 10 2020 at 9:15am EDT (UTC -4).

Students entering or preparing for college typically find themselves in a very different environment from high school. They must make more decisions on their own, from organizing their time to making health-related choices. How they engage with information must also change based on the demands of the college experience. Becoming producers of information in both academic and quotidian settings that are often collaborative and online requires a shift in mindset that can benefit students throughout their lives. COVID-related circumstances may cause many more students to live at home while starting college, requiring them to take on new responsibilities and self-regulation strategies without the typical face-to-face support from instructors and peers. 

SUNY OER Services has adapted Lumen’s “College Success” online course to include two new modules in its “iSucceed” version, one of which focuses on metaliteracy. This course is available not only to SUNY students but also, in a modified form, to anyone interested in applying the metaliteracy model to lifelong learning. This session will provide a brief overview of the iSucceed College Success course and then focus on how the metaliteracy course module can be used to introduce students to the importance of this information and learning framework. As educators transition to fully online, blended, and remote learning in response to the COVID-19 crisis, this new metaliteracy resource provides adaptable content for both K-12 and college settings. The metaliteracy module guides students through this process as they learn the definition of the term, examine metaliterate learner roles, goals, and characteristics, and explore how to become a metaliterate digital citizen. This flexible, interactive unit includes videos, assignments, and self-check quizzes that are adaptable to a range of disciplines and educational settings.

Metaliteracy Presentation at the Information Literacy & Democracy Conference

Tom Mackey and Trudi Jacobson will present Advancing democratic dialogue by applying metaliteracy in teaching praxis at the Information Literacy & Democracy Virtual Conference June 19-20. The video presentation is available in advance of the conference and their live session will take place on June 19 at 11:30 am Eastern Savings Time (5.30 p.m Central European Summer Time – CEST). To join the live session, register for free by sending an e-mail to infodem (at) uni-hildesheim.de. All of the conference presentations are available via the Information Literacy & Democracy conference web site and YouTube. The Information Literacy and Democracy (IDE) project is supported by the Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony, Germany.

Tom and Trudi’s presentation explores metaliteracy as a pedagogical model to develop a metaliteracy mindset for effectively consuming, producing, and sharing information. This comprehensive framework promotes democratic dialogue with learners to uphold democracy in a post-truth world of misinformation and disinformation. This presentation describes the four components of metaliteracy and offers ideas for advancing democratic dialogue with learners.

Metaliteracy Featured on The Academic Minute

The Academic Minute

How do we prepare learners to be informed consumers and ethical producers of information? This is the central question of Tom Mackey’s segment for the NPR/WAMC program The Academic Minute entitled Metaliterate Learners. The Academic Minute is a WAMC national production hosted by Dr. Lynn Pasquerella, President of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and features daily highlights from faculty about their research. The program is broadcast on 70 radio stations in the United States and Canada, including WAMC, and is featured on multiple social media platforms and Inside Higher Ed.

The metaliteracy segment explores why it is essential to apply metacognitive strategies to prepare learners for today’s challenging information environment. According to Mackey:

Metaliteracy prepares individuals to be informed consumers and ethical producers of information. This model is especially relevant today when misinformation circulates online, and personal beliefs or feelings displace objective reasoning. Metaliterate learners reexamine individual bias and rethink fixed mindsets to contribute in meaningful ways. They adapt to changing technologies and leverage these resources to create and share original content.

(https://academicminute.org/2020/05/thomas-mackey-suny-empire-metaliterate-learners/)

The learner as producer theme is core to the metaliteracy framework and is the topic of a new book project that Tom Mackey and Trudi Jacobson are currently working on for ALA Neal-Schuman Publishing.

The full script of the metaliteracy segment is available at The Academic Minute web site. The audio for this module was recorded at the WAMC studio in Albany, New York.

Let us know what you think about this brief metaliteracy piece and feel free to share it with your colleagues and students!

Metaliteracy Keynote Features Open Resources for Teaching and Learning at a Distance

Tom and Trudi at Virtual Keynote

Trudi Jacobson and Tom Mackey keynoted on Teaching Metaliteracy as a Vital Literacy for Today’s Digital World at the Edge consortium’s Annual Teaching with Technology Showcase: Excellence in Action on April 24. This conference was transitioned to a virtual format as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the presentation includes open resources that are available to faculty and librarians who have transitioned to online and remote teaching during this crisis. The keynote also features adaptable reflective questions about the information we consume, produce, and share at a time when accurate and reliable information is more important than ever. Trudi and Tom were invited to keynote by Nancy Zimmerman, Executive Director for EdgeEvents and Print Communications. Edge is the regional technology partner for colleges and universities in New Jersey. If you have any questions about the slides or would like to continue the conversation let us know!

Metaliteracy Keynote at Virtual Teaching with Technology Showcase on April 24

The Annual Teaching with Technology Showcase: Excellence in Action, an entirely online event, will feature an invited keynote by Trudi Jacobson and Tom Mackey about metaliteracy on Friday, April 24. The keynote entitled Teaching Metaliteracy as a Vital Literacy for Today’s Digital World will explore metaliteracy and its relevance to educators and students, especially during this time of the COVID-19 crisis, when the ability to produce and share truthful and trusted information is essential. The keynote will examine metacognitive reflection and self-regulation as part of the scaffolding that metaliteracy provides for successful student participation in open pedagogical settings. Several open digital learning projects produced by the Metaliteracy Learning Collaborative will be introduced as part of this interactive presentation.

Roles of the Metaliterate Learner Figure (Mackey & Jacobson, 2014)

Registration is open for this virtual conference that is sponsored by Edge, the regional technology partner for colleges and universities in New Jersey. Edge responded quickly to the COVID-19 crisis and moved this conference to an entirely online format and will pilot the Run the World platform as part of this transition.

The conference starts at 9:30am with opening remarks by Nancy Zimmerman, Executive Director for EdgeEvents and Print Communications. Trudi and Tom’s keynote address is at 11:45 am. Throughout the day, presenters will address such relevant topics as: promoting the adoption of technology by faculty, video games for learning, technology preferences of Generation Z college students, virtual experiences in art and science, creating OER initiatives, interactive polling, using makerspaces in college, applying augmented reality and gamification to deepen learning, and much more!

We look forward to seeing you at the virtual conference and will share our slides after our keynote!

-Tom & Trudi

Metaliteracy Post-Truth MOOC is Popular and Recommended

Characteristics of the Metaliterate Learner (Mackey & Jacobson, 2019)

According to Class Central, the Coursera version of our most recent metaliteracy MOOC Empowering Yourself in a Post-Truth World is one of 2019’s Most Popular Online Courses. The founder and CEO of Class Central, Dhawal Shah noted that his site aggregates MOOCs and collects course enrollment data from MOOC providers as well as data from learners at Class Central to arrive at the list of most popular online courses.

In another recent mention of our Metaliteracy MOOC, Jessica Stillman Contributor at Inc.com recommended Empowering Yourself in a Post-Truth World in her latest article “20 Online Courses That Will Make You More Successful in 2020.” According to Stillman, she selected “classes in everything from exercise to data analysis that will help you be more motivated, productive and successful this year.” Our MOOC was mentioned along with classes from around the world about such topics as Statistics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Design, Writing and Public Speaking, Critical Thinking, and Ethical Hacking. We join Jessica Stillman in wishing everyone a productive and successful 2020!

Metaliteracy and Post-Truth Explored in Keynote at NWU in South Africa

Tom Mackey presented an international keynote entitled Building Communities of Trust: Metaliterate Learning for a Post-Truth Society at the International Conference on Information Literacy (ICIL) at North-West University (NWU) in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa. Tom was invited to keynote at the conference by Dr. Jako Olivier, UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and OER and Professor in Multimodal Learning at NWU.

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Tom Mackey Keynoting at NWU (photo by Louise Olivier)

Tom’s keynote is based on the framing chapter he wrote “Empowering Metaliterate Learners for the Post-Truth World” for his latest metaliteracy book with Trudi Jacobson Metaliterate Learning for the Post-Truth World published by ALA/Neal-Schuman.

As noted in the abstract for this presentation: Metaliteracy is a reframing of information literacy to develop metaliterate learners as active producers of information in both local and global communities of trust. In today’s post-truth society, personal and political beliefs have diminished the meaning and impact of verifiable facts and truthful reasoning. Metaliterate learners are empowered through reflective practice to responsibly consume and creatively produce information in collaborative and participatory social spaces. Through informed civic engagement, individuals take control of their participation while working cooperatively with others to build responsible communities of trust. Visualizations have the power to enhance our understanding of and connections with the metaliteracy framework and several were shared as part of this presentation.

An analysis of the Open edX and Coursera versions of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Empowering Yourself in a Post-Truth World, demonstrated how metaliteracy is applied as a pedagogical model to the challenges of a post-truth society.

Prestige Lecture at NWU in South Africa Features Metaliteracy

Trudi Jacobson, Jako Olivier, and Tom Mackey pictured at the Prestige lecture.
Trudi Jacobson, Jako Olivier, and Tom Mackey

At the invitation of Dr. Jako Olivier, UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and OER and Professor in Multimodal Learning at North-West University in South Africa, Tom Mackey and Trudi Jacobson presented a Prestige Lecture entitled Exploring the Foundation of Metaliteracy in Theory and Practice at the Potchefstroom Campus on September 19, 2019. This collaborative lecture set the stage for two workshops with librarians, faculty and staff during the same week. All three events were presented in advance of the International Conference on Information Literacy (ICIL) at North-West University in Vanderbijlpark. Trudi and Tom both presented individual keynotes at ICIL as well as one additional collaborative presentation.