Metaliteracy Infographic Created for MOOC Final Project

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

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

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.

Metaliteracy/Information Literacy Course Emphasizes Open Pedagogy

A course taught this spring at the University at Albany blended an opportunity to learn about metaliteracy and information literacy with a very public-facing assignment: writing for Wikipedia. The course, Information Literacy for the Humanities and Fine Arts, participated in the Wiki Education program. Students had the opportunity to put many of the metaliteracy learning objectives and information literacy frames into practice in a way that brought them alive. More detailed information, including student reactions, can be found in a  post on the Wiki Education blog.

When Stories and Pictures Lie Together — And You Don’t Even Know It.

metaliterateLearning_fullsize_RGBThomas Palmer, M.S., Digital Media Lecturer from the Journalism Program at the University at Albany, SUNY, and Editorial Design Director / News Editor at the Times Union newspaper introduces you to his chapter in Metaliterate Learning in the Post-Truth World: When Stories and Pictures Lie Together — And You Don’t Even Know It.

The photo in the tweet triggers your path to deception in as little as 13 milliseconds. Your brain dedicates about 85% of its processing to make sense of this picture. Your comprehension of its text finally catches up, but you’ll likely believe the false claim merely because the image is present. Confirmation bias settles in. You have just fallen prey within seconds to the intersemiotic contextual misrepresentation of photojournalism — and you weren’t even aware. This targeted disinformation to manipulate you is a success. In this post-truth era, the weaponizing of legitimate photojournalism for political and social propaganda is easy and low tech. However, in this chapter metaliterate learners can develop judgment for identifying and exposing this malpractice to protect themselves and the public.

The relationship between text and image is dynamic and complementary, while also leading to misrepresentations. This chapter analyzes the synergistic association of several visual-textual examples from photojournalism to illustrate how images are easily manipulated and misunderstood.  Metaliteracy is discussed as an empowering pedagogical response to these concerns that supports learners in developing detection and prevention strategies.