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.