Thursday, August 29, 2013

MOOCing it up, #metaliteracy style

A whole slew of things in my work and in my head are converging in a learning experience called the Metaliteracy MOOC.

If you're in higher ed in almost any capacity, you've likely encountered the term "MOOC", which stands for Massively Open Online Course, in any number of headlines. If you're not in higher ed, those links will give you an idea of what most MOOCs look like right now. In many cases the MOOC is interpreted as the harbinger of doom for higher ed as we know it.

But then I encountered the following video explanation of the term, produced by the researcher who originally coined it, and the picture looks much brighter:

That's a learning experience I'd love to participate in. And time willing, I'm about to. I've gone ahead and registered for the Metaliteracy MOOC as a participant, which will run over the course of fall semester. While I can't guarantee to myself or the other participants that I will be uber involved every single week in the connectivist* discussion happening around the tag #metaliteracy, especially since I have a ton going on at the moment, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and give it a go.

It helps that I've been using the tag #metaliteracy on Twitter for a while now, since my recent work with my research partner Teresa has relied heavily on the metaliteracy framework developed by none other than the facilitators of this MOOC, Thomas Mackey and Trudi Jacobson. More on metaliteracy can be found at their metaliteracy blog.

In fact, this is as good an opening as any to share here that Teresa and I just had an article accepted for publication in Reference Services Review called (wait for it...): "Teaching metaliteracy: a new paradigm in action". (*dun dun dun!* Like BAD WOLF in Doctor Who, it's EVERYWHERE!) In our article we use Mackey and Jacobson's metaliteracy framework as a lens through which to present our findings from the first run of our Rhetoric & Social Media course, which we co-designed and have co-taught for three years now. It's been assigned to Vol 42 Issue 2, which is due out June 2014--crazy, I know, but that's the way of academic publishing. I would like to have seen it assigned to an earlier issue, since next June is when ACRL (my profession's national organization) will be approving a revision to the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, a thirteen year-old document which Teresa and I have used heavily in our work for six years now. And this revision is being done by a task force that is being co-chaired by (wait for it...) Trudi Jacobson, co-facilitator of this MOOC I'll be participating in, and posting about here.

Oh yes, my participation in this MOOC will mean the rate of posting here is likely to go up a bit over the next few months, so that's a plus; though, the posts will all be about metaliteracy, and thus very process-oriented and reflective and likely to be dealing with technology, learning, and information. But if you're reading this blog post, that means you participate in the kind of learning I'll be reflecting on whether you realize it or not, so this post series is likely to be more relevant to you, my lovely readers (whoever you may be at the moment!), than you perhaps suppose.

So by now I bet you're wondering: What on earth is metaliteracy? Many of the links above answer this question in a variety of ways. But Teresa and I defined it very simply for ourselves a few years ago: it's a critical awareness of why we do what we do with information.

Via Pinterest** The first step to becoming metaliterate is to become aware that this^ is a reality for just about everyone, though it is only those of us who are aware of this fact that are in danger of overexplaining or being totally inarticulate on a regular basis. UPDATE: This.

What that awareness looks like in practice, and how we can develop it, are all things that may come up in future posts (though Teresa and I definitely discuss this in our article, which I'll post more information about when it is farther along in the publication process). But here's a clue: blogging about it is a good way to start. :)

*There are no good online summaries of connectivism, so I'll do my best to sum it up for you: Connectivist learning is learning that occurs within a network created by technology; it posits that learning takes place in a particular way in the spaces between people who are a part of each other's learning network, and as a result relies heavily on the technology that facilitates that connection.

**I tried to trace the image back to an original source, but alas, I hit a dead end at this link, and anyone else out there who reblogged the image has made it clear they did not design it themselves. And this difficulty in attributing an original source for this image is a perfect example of what metaliteracy seeks to address: not so much in correcting the fact that attributing an original source for the image is difficult, but in making us aware that it matters that this is so. (Is your head spinning yet? ;) )

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