Metaliteracy Launches Reason & Respect Initiative at SUNY Empire

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.


Jacobson, T., Mackey, T., O’Brien, K., Forte, M., & O’Keeffe, E. (2018).   “Goals and Learning Objectives.”, Retrieved from

Mackey, T.P., “Empowering Metaliterate Learners for the Post-Truth World.” In Mackey and Jacobson (Eds.). Metaliterate Learning for the Post-Truth World. New York: ALA Publishing, Inc., (2019).

Mackey, T. P., & Jacobson, T. E.. (2011). Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy. College & Research Libraries, (January): 62-78.

Mackey, T. P., & Jacobson, T. E. (2014). Metaliteracy: Reinventing Information Literacy to Empower Learners. Chicago: ALA/Neal-Schuman Publishing.

Managing the COVID-19 infodemic: Promoting healthy behaviours and mitigating the harm from misinformation and disinformation. World Health Organization. (2020, September 23).

Metaliterate 9th-Grade Learners Take a Stand Against Misinformation

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!

Tom, Trudi, & Kelsey