Tom Mackey’s presentation Advancing Metaliteracy to Rebuild Trust launched the Reason & Respect initiative at SUNY Empire State College. This series of online conversations “provides a forum for students, faculty, staff, and our broader communities to explore and discuss topics related to the election and learn about critical issues” (SUNY Empire). Tom’s presentation examines metaliteracy as a pedagogical strategy to address the challenges of misinformation and disinformation during this election cycle and a global pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 pandemic is also an “infodemic” that is defined by the spread of false and misleading information. The sharing of deceptive and untruthful information during a global pandemic is especially problematic when accurate and reliable communication is essential for saving lives. Misinformation and disinformation are amplified by echo chambers, tribalism, and contentious partisan environments that reinforce mistrust and division. How do we rebuild trust based on reason and respect? How do we engage in difficult conversations about critical issues while reexamining fixed mindsets and understanding multiple perspectives?
During an age of misinformation and well-orchestrated disinformation campaigns, it is especially vital to make informed decisions based on accurate content from reliable and truthful sources. Metaliteracy is a comprehensive model that helps individuals to become both critical consumers and ethical producers of information in participatory environments (Mackey & Jacobson, 2011; Mackey & Jacobson, 2014). Metaliterate learners are reflective, well-informed, and civic-minded contributors to shared communities. They adapt to changing information technologies and work conscientiously to build communities of trust (Mackey, 2019). Metaliterate learners reflect on how they feel about information and the specific contexts of information environments (Jacobson, et. al., 2018). They develop a metaliteracy mindset and examine their own predispositions while consciously seeking information from multiple perspectives and sources (Jacobson, et. al., 2018). Metaliteracy has been applied in many different educational settings, from classrooms and libraries to online virtual environments, showing that it is possible to advance rational and reflective dialogue among engaged participants in shared spaces. This presentation explores how metaliteracy is a lifelong practice for building truthful and trusted communities based on a shared commitment to both empathy and understanding.
A recent panel presentation by the Metaliteracy Learning Collaborative supports students in a Pathways in Technology (PTECH) Early College High School who are working on a Public Service Announcement (PSA) project related to misinformation. If you are interested in applying metaliteracy to your teaching practices, check out this interactive presentation and associated breakout sessions entitled Metaliterate Learners Take a Stand Against Misinformation. This model for applying metaliteracy in a problem-based learning scenario was developed by Tom Mackey from SUNY Empire State College, in collaboration with Trudi Jacobson, and Kelsey O’Brien from the University at Albany. Sandra Barkevich, Business and Career Explorations Instructor at HFM Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) invited the Metaliteracy Learning Collaborative to develop this interactive presentation. During this session, metaliteracy was introduced to reinforce the learner as producer role that the students take on as collaborative creators of PSA’s about misinformation.
During this session, the students and teachers were introduced to the core components of metaliteracy (roles, domains, characteristics, goals and learning objectives) and were then organized into three different breakout sessions. The organization of the breakouts was based on three of the components (roles, characteristics, goals and learning objectives). Members of each group also engaged with the learning domains as they thought about next steps for their project, what would be required of them, and how awareness of these domains might be used to enhance both their learning and their work. The students applied what they learned about these metaliteracy principles during the small group activities which included interactive surveys and an interactive padlet where each group shared one big takeaway.
We really enjoyed working with the 9th graders as they engaged with these metaliteracy ideas and look forward to the development of their PSAs! If you have any questions about this presentation and how to apply it to your pre-college or higher education setting, feel free to reach out to us at any time!
This guest blog post is by Dr. Valerie Hill, Director of the Community Virtual Library (a library in virtual learning environments) and researcher of changing literacy in digital culture. Valerie believes metaliteracy aligns well to our philosophical era which many are beginning to call “metamodernism”.
Her recent book, Metamodernism and Changing Literacy: Emerging Research and Opportunities, focuses on metaliteracy for all age groups through an exploration of our metamodern moment. In the Foreword to this book, Thomas Mackey states, “Hill provides a fascinating exploration of metamodernism through the perspective of metaliteracy. This intersection between both theories is vital to our understanding of the relationship between digital culture and literacy.”
Certainly, over the past few months instructors and learners have been challenged by the need to plunge into virtual learning environments (like it or not!) due to Covid 19. Many educators have scrambled to learn new tech tools connecting to students through ZOOM and other apps. Obviously, lecturing online through a web camera has obstacles and limitations as there is little chance for interactive hands-on learning without a “shared space”. Entering virtual platforms for learning requires metaliteracy and the ability to reflect on information in multiple formats as we participate in digital spaces both consuming and producing information. We are surrounded by evidence that metaliteracy is essential, realizing that literacy is no longer defined as the ability to read and write. Options for online learning continue to evolve and a look at our philosophical era in relation to literacy helps us understand how deep learning can occur today and in the future.
The End of Postmodernism
Metaliteracy, as defined by Mackey and Jacobson (2014), is a term developed to better understand the need for digital citizens to reflect on their own literacy in globally networked culture through four domains: behavioral, cognitive, affective, and metacognitive. The ongoing process of learning through these domains takes place again and again over time. This need for metaliteracy was a perfect match to the changing era of postmodernism and the rise of networked culture; however, it is even more critical as we move beyond postmodernism. Several new concepts are emerging, such as: post-postmodernism, post-millennialism, trans-postmodernism, and the term used in this writing, metamodernism.
One of the hallmarks of postmodernism was deconstructionism and the tearing down of grand narratives and established belief systems. Postmodernism emphasized irony, engendered an abundance of dystopian literary works, and promoted a sense of the “death of history”. Metamodernism, in contrast, allows room for hope. Vermeulen and van den Akker (2010, p. 2) suggest, “History, it seems, is moving rapidly beyond its all too hastily proclaimed end.” Understanding changes in literacy may be better understood by exploring metamodernism and embracing metaliteracy.
Metaliteracy in Virtual Spaces
Literacy, we all know, has been revolutionized by digital culture bringing opportunities to access, create and curate content through a plethora of apps and digital platforms. Rapidly expanding digital tools have disrupted education, leading to the need for new nomenclature and a new look at literacy. As information landscapes continue to evolve, metaliteracy addresses goals and learning objectives for digital citizens which include 1) Evaluation of content and bias; 2) Advocating respect for intellectual property; 3) Producing and sharing through collaboration; and 4) Adapting to change through lifelong personal and professional goals.
While innovative learning spaces can be new and exciting, the metamodern individual seeks a balance of innovation with respect for history and tradition. Much can be gained by studying the past and reflecting on the learning journey of those who lived before us. These oscillations between the past and the present, between the physical and the virtual (or digital), and between numerous opposing concepts (the concrete and the abstract) surround us in our metamodern world and impact literacy as we juggle and swing between them in our minds. This juggling between modes of literacy and thinking influences our behavior, our knowledge and understanding, our feelings toward information, and our reflection on how we learn (notice the four domains of metaliteracy).
Choosing the best learning environment is challenging for educators and for learners as online classroom management platforms compete to provide educational applications and virtual spaces (even VR headsets) continue to rapidly expand. Many online spaces offer little interaction beyond observation through a webcam or interactive chat. Evaluating the criteria necessary for specific learning objectives is critical and a shared sense of place and presence can be of tremendous value.
3D virtual environments may play a greater role in simulating a shared learning experience using avatars, a simulated space across distance with the ability to learn in collaboration in a persistent environment (a space that remains over time rather than a one-time disposable experience). Research has documented the potential for high quality educational simulations for over fifteen years. Virtual worlds, such as Second Life or Kitely, offer learners tools to build alone or in collaboration with others. These virtual learning spaces require metaliteracy as users employ various new skills such as embedding online media, coding and scripting, using voice or text, collaborative building, applying the laws of physics, or back channeling through other platforms to communicate.
Great potential for learning and creating in virtual environments is evident; yet, so too is the need for a balance between the virtual world and the physical world. Metamodernism calls for a balance of both worlds and an appreciation of both. The process of becoming metaliterate is lifelong and the metamodern individual must be aware of the personal responsibilities we each hold as digital citizens. As XR (Extended Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality) and MR (Mixed Reality) continue to evolve, metaliteracy will become essential to education and daily life. Certainly, the unprecedented shutdowns caused by Covid 19 have brought a new appreciation of our physical world and our social interactions. A deep appreciation for the physical world alongside multiple “realities” is a metamodern concept.
Metaliteracy for all Age Groups in Digital Culture
From infancy through old age, we are all called upon to become digital citizens in today’s globally connected culture. Tiny tots see digital devices around them from birth and elderly people are often expected to utilize digital modes of communication from email and online shopping to texting and social media. Much of our online interaction takes place through social media and networked communities. “Metaliteracy promotes critical thinking and collaboration in a digital age, providing a comprehensive framework to effectively participate in social media and online communities” (Mackey and Jacobson, 2011, p. 62).
Becoming metaliterate is a process that begins at birth with the modeling of literacy (print books preferred for infants and toddlers!) imperative to development. Parents, children, educators, students, and lifelong learners are challenged to develop a personal awareness of metaliteracy and to “apply metaliterate learning as a lifelong value and practice” (Metaliteracy Goal 4:9) (Jacobson, et. al., 2019).
Hill, V. J. (2020). Metamodernism and Changing Literacy: Emerging Research and Opportunities. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
An English translation of the metaliteracy interview for the RSG Radio Program has been prepared by Jako Olivier, UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and OER at North West University (NWU), South Africa.
Trudi Jacobson Tom Mackey and Jako Olivier (pictured to the right in 2019 at NWU in South Africa) discuss metaliteracy on Sunday August 2, 2020 at 9:30am EST (15:30 South African time).
Download the English translation of the interview here:
The discussion is moderated by Johannes Van Lill, for the RSG radio show, Ons en die onderwys (‘We and Education’). While Tom’s and Trudi’s responses are in English, the program is in Afrikaans. Jako’s translation of the program will allow you to read along with the initial interview on Sunday at http://www.rsg.co.za/ or if you download the podcast after the event at https://lnkd.in/d-hCeDN.
Our first blog post about the interview featured two audio previews, and here are two additional responses from Tom and Trudi based on the questions posed by Johannes Van Lill:
Which characteristics should a metaliterate learner have?
What implications does metaliteracy have for teachers and parents in the school context?
We hope that you join us for this opportunity to engage with an international audience about metaliteracy and welcome any feedback and insights you have based on the conversation!
Jako Olivier, UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and OER invited Trudi Jacobson, Distinguished Librarian and Head of the Information Literacy Department at the University at Albany, SUNY and Tom Mackey, Professor of Arts and Media at SUNY Empire State College to participate in a discussion about metaliteracy on the RSG radio show, Ons en die onderwys (‘We and Education’) on Sunday August 2, 2020 at 9:30am EST (15:30 South African time). Johannes Van Lill, Director of Wordwise Media & VJC, RSG Presenter, journalist and communication specialist will lead the discussion and interview Jako, Trudi, and Tom as part of the program. While Tom and Trudi’s portions will be in English, the rest of the discussion will be in Afrikaans.
Listen live to the interview with Tom, Jako, and Trudi (pictured to the left at last year’s ICIL conference in South Africa) at http://www.rsg.co.za/ (click on the red button marked ‘LUISTER NOU’) or download the podcast afterwards at https://lnkd.in/d-hCeDN.
RSG has over 1.3 million listeners who might tune into their radios, and the Sunday afternoon programs in particular are the most widely listened and together with the online listeners and podcast downloads the total listener number might be closer to 2 million people. RSG is broadcast all over South Africa and because it is the most popular and main national Afrikaans-speaking radio station it covers a very wide demographic. RSG also has many listeners from the country of Namibia (where Afrikaans is also spoken widely) as well as online with local and Afrikaans-speaking expatriates.
Here’s an audio preview of two of the responses from Tom Mackey and Trudi Jacobson as part of the interview:
What is Metaliteracy?
Why is metaliteracy relevant for education today?
Listen in on Sunday, August 2 at 9:30am EST for the full interview with Jako Olivier and Johannes Van Lill!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.