Accelerating Metaliterate Learning with a Global MOOC and Digital Badging System

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This interactive presentation will invite attendees to provide feedback on a developing global MOOC entitled Metaliterate Learning in the Post-Truth World and metaliteracy digital badging system. Participants will offer insights at a critical point in the development process, as we prepare the MOOC and digital badging content for spring 2019.


Professor in the Division of Arts and Humanities, Department of Arts and Media at SUNY Empire State College. Educator, researcher, and author promoting metaliteracy. Additional research in open and online learning, teaching with technology, faculty-librarian collaboration, and assessment. Conference and keynote presentations, book chapters, and several publications in peer-reviewed journals, including: Open Praxis, Communications in Information Literacy, College & Research Libraries, First Monday, Computers & Education, The Journal of General Education, College Teaching, Rhizomes, The Journal of Information Science, and The Journal of Education for Library and Information Science. Editor of the book Metaliteracy in Practice (2016) with Trudi Jacobson for ALA/Neal-Schuman, and co-author of the first book about metaliteracy, a model that we originated, entitled Metaliteracy: Reinventing Information Literacy to Empower Learners (2014). Co-editor of our four earlier books: Information Literacy Collaborations That Work (2007), Using Technology To Teach Information Literacy (2008), Collaborative Information Literacy Assessments: Strategies for Evaluating Teaching and Learning (2010), and Teaching Information Literacy Online (2011).
Kelsey O'Brien is an Information Literacy Librarian at the University at Albany, SUNY. She has been involved with digital badges for the past several years, beginning in 2013 when she first began working on the Metaliteracy Badging System. She is the co-convener of ACRL's Digital Badges Interest Group and also served on SUNY's FACT2 Micro-credentialing Task Force. She co-authored and edited the recently published Teaching with Digital Badges: Best Practices for Libraries (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018), and has presented extensively on badges nationally (ALA, LOEX) and internationally (LILAC, ICDE). Kelsey has also co-taught two MOOCs on metaliteracy, and co-authored an article in Open Praxis titled Metaliteracy as Pedagogical Framework for Learner-Centered Design in Three MOOC Platforms: Connectivist, Coursera and Canvas. Prior to working as an academic librarian Kelsey has worked as a Youth Services Librarian and High School Library Media Specialist. She is the liasion for the Writing and Critical Inquiry program at the University at Albany, a required course for first year students, and she enjoys helping students transition from high school to college research.
Presently, I work for Empire State College as the Director of Instructional Design. I strategically direct College wide instructional design policy and procedures to ensure courses are current and in-line with current research on best practices for online learning. I also coordinate and promote collaboration and fact finding of existing resources with other members of the College to identify gaps and opportunities and determine boundaries to increase efficiency and effectiveness. I am also an adjunct faculty member with the College, instructing a graduate course on Assistive Technology and Digital Tools. I also teach for The College of Saint Rose, a graduate course on Assistive Technology and Interactive Whiteboards and two undergraduate courses, Introduction to Computer Science and Educational Computing for the Computer Information Science program.
Alena Rodick is an Interim Assistant Director of Instructional Design at SUNY Empire State College. She has been a Co-Pi and/or project member on four SUNY Innovative Instructional Technology Grants, including Career Brand Management for Everyone: Expanding Access to Career Development Learning by Launching an On-Demand, Competency-Based OPEN SUNY Specialization on Coursera; Increasing Access to Online, On-Demand, Competency-Based Nonprofit Management and Leadership Education; Metaliteracy Learning Pathways: Fostering Innovative Teaching Across SUNY; Increasing Access to Nonprofit Management and Leadership Education. While working on these projects, she has designed courses in various platforms, utilized different project management processes, and built learning artifacts with a wide range of tools. She has facilitated workshops and presented at the regional and national conferences and has a special interest in application of design thinking process and learning analytics in instructional design. She is also an adjunct faculty teaching an undergraduate course for The College of Saint Rose and Senior Networked Instructional Designer at Southern New Hampshire University. She holds BS degree in Business Administration from SUNY Albany and MS degree in Information Design and Technology from SUNYIT, and currently pursuing another MS degree in Data Analytics.

Extended Abstract

In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, the term post-truth was named the word-of-the-year by Oxford Dictionaries and was defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”[1]While innovative social technologies have created environments for democratic and participatory interaction, we have also seen a disturbing downside of division and discord based on the proliferation of false and misleading information that appeals to individuals' emotions and biases. These concerns challenge educators to openly develop and share innovative pedagogical solutions that provide a critical understanding of post-truth circumstances while empowering learners to be responsible and ethical digital citizens in any context through a redefinition of literacy as metaliteracy.


Active participants of this interactive panel presentation will be invited to provide feedback on the design of an innovative Open EdX MOOC entitled Metaliterate Learning in the Post-Truth World. They will also respond to the expansion of an existing metaliteracy digital badging system that features new learning achievements that promote metaliterate learning in a post-truth contextBoth projects are being developed by the current configuration of the Metaliteracy Learning Collaborative, a team of colleagues from Empire State College and The University at Albany within the State University of New York (SUNY). This work is supported by a top-tier SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant (IITG) to spark innovative uses of technology while supporting system-wide collaboration to advance relevant learning outcomes. 


The Open EdX MOOC and digital badging system will provide open access to teachers and learners for the critical examination of several issues about the post-truth world, including: false or misleading information, tribalism (when groups identify so closely that they fail to consider other perspectives), online trolling (or being inflammatory online), alternative facts, and unprecedented challenges to scientific reasoning.As part of this project, we will incorporate micro-credentials in the form of newly developed badgeable learning activities that will also be integrated into the existing metaliteracy badging system. Learners will have an opportunity to earn meaningful digital credentials as they actively participate in the MOOC, engage with post-truth issues, and take on the key metaliterate role as teacher when they use a peer assessment tool to review the work of other learners. 


This presentation will provide an opportunity for feedback from attendees at a critical point in the development process, as we prepare the MOOC and digital badging content for spring 2019 delivery. Participants will learn about the progress of this project and will be invited to respond to specific curriculum and instructional design resources from the MOOC and badging system, including assignments and learning activities, assessments, open content (learning modules, digital badging quests and challenges), videos, and animations. The facilitators will also share the revised Metaliteracy Goals and Learning Objectives that underpin both open resources, as well as the metaliterate learner characteristics. We will employ a survey instrument to gain immediate feedback from audience participants about the materials presented and will engage in a dialogue about their responses. We seek the expertise and experience from the OLC audience to shape the final steps of our most current metaliteracy project. 


Previously, the metaliteracy model has been applied in three different MOOCs (connectivist, Coursera, and Canvas) and a digital badging system and some of the badging content was integrated into one of the MOOCs about digital citizenship.  As originally defined by Mackey and Jacobson (2011), “Metaliteracy promotes critical thinking and collaboration in a digital age, providing a comprehensive framework to effectively participate in social media and online communities” (p. 62). As the metaliteracy model developed, it expanded with specific goals and learning objectives that informed several innovative MOOC projects and a competency-based digital badging system that were applied in courses at a research university and non-traditional, adult serving institution. The modes of instruction included fully online, blended, competency-based, and face-to-face, and featured credit-bearing and not-for-credit options mostly at the undergraduate level.


According to O’Brien, Forte, Mackey & Jacobson (2017) metaliteracy is “a pedagogical framework that encourages more reflective, student-centered learning and critical engagement in MOOCs.” Through an analysis of the three previous MOOCs in particular, the authors argued that metaliteracy “acknowledges the many dimensions of student learning, including the metacognitive and affective domains that are especially pertinent to self-regulation challenges and opportunities presented by complex, decentralized MOOC environments.” Metaliteracy advances four domains of learning that include affective, behavioral, cognitive and metacognitive. The metacognitive domain is especially pertinent in the post-truth world for learners to create awareness about individual biases and to place these preconceptions into check through “cognitive monitoring” (Flavell, 1979). For instance, in an article entitled How to Reject Fake News in a Digital World, Mackey and Jacobson (2014) argued, “Metaliterate individuals recognize there are ethical considerations involved when sharing information, such as the information must be accurate. But there is more. Metaliteracy asks that individuals understand on a mental and emotional level the potential impact of one’s participation.”[2] Considering the many challenges of the post-truth world, metaliteracy prepares learners to be critical consumers and creative producers of information in social networks and online communities while analyzing and checking the biases we all bring to these spaces. 


Ultimately, the SUNY team that designed the original metaliteracy MOOCs and digital badging system argued that as the next logical step in this process: “we would like to offer a hybrid Metaliteracy MOOC that would focus less on the lectures found in xMOOCs, and more on user-generated content, collaborative knowledge creation, and student-driven learning promoted in cMOOCs, while supporting learners as teachers and contributors to the course.”[3] As the development process for the next Open EdX MOOC and expanded digital badging systems moves forward the Metaliteracy Learning Collaborative will focus on metaliteracy as a pedagogical model for this integrated project while being inspired by connectivism as a design principle for disrupting the potential limits of the Open EdX platform. As part of this iterative process we seek specific feedback from the OLC audience for how this project is progressing to meet these goals while advancing empowered metaliterate learning based on the revised metaliteracy learning goals and objectives, and related metaliterate learner characteristics. Attendees will benefit from this engaging panel on a hot-button issue that impacts learners and educators across disciplines and will have the opportunity to consider potential applications of these valuable open resources in their own teaching.