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New “Metaliteracy” MOOC Explores Information Literacy in the Social Media Age

UAlbany, SUNY Empire State College Collaborate on Massive Open Online Course

Distinguished Librarian Trudi Jacobson, who co-leads the new UAlbany-Empire State College Massive Open Online Course, Metaliteracy. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (Sept. 6, 2013) — The University at Albany’s University Libraries and the Center for Distance Learning at SUNY Empire State College (ESC) have collaborated to offer a new Massive Open Online Course, Metaliteracy MOOC.

Participation in the MOOC is free and open to anyone.

“’Metaliteracy’ is the reinvention of information literacy for open learning and social media environments,” said Tom Mackey, dean of the ESC's Center for Distance Learning. “Metaliteracy empowers learners beyond the search and retrieval of static documents to the collaborative production and sharing of dynamic information online.”

The collaboration is led by Mackey and SUNY Distinguished Librarian Trudi E. Jacobson, head of the Information Literacy Department at UAlbany.

“Students sometimes see information literacy as something that is peripheral to their life after college,” said Jacobson. “That isn’t actually the case, yet the information environment has shifted so dramatically that a new model of information literacy is needed, one that clearly recognizes the astounding expansion of information types and sources, and the role that many individuals now assume of information producers.

“Metaliteracy incorporates these changes. In this MOOC, participants will be immersed in a participatory, open environment, with the chance to learn from and communicate with experts from all over the globe. And they will be creating real information products, with all the attendant responsibilities and possibilities.”

More information about the concept of metaliteracy, as well as a full definition, is available here. The MOOC will be facilitated by experts from UAlbany and the college’s Center for Distance Learning.

As part of their course work, each student will create her or his own blog, which will be harvested by an RSS program, gRSShopper, and appear in the Metaliteracy MOOC newsletter, which will be sent to all registered participants. Flickr, YouTube and Instagram are examples of applications that may be embedded in blog posts, and participants will be encouraged to explore a variety of other Web-based applications. Those working on a team project will have flexibility in determining which technologies will advance their work.

By incorporating the MOOC into existing modes of study, students at both institutions will earn credit.

At UAlbany, students enrolled in undergraduate courses UUNL300x, Literacies for Lifelong Learning, 2 credits, and some sections of UUNL205x, Information Literacy, 1 credit, will participate in the MOOC as part of their course work.

Undergraduate students at ESC's CDL will earn 4 credits through independent study with Mackey. At the graduate level, ESC will offer a 3-credit, research-based guided independent study, "MOOC Metacognitive Analysis," in the School for Graduate Studies Master of Arts in Learning and Emerging Technologies program.

“Students will earn a varying amount of credit depending on what is asked of them and based on the learning outcomes identified in each part of course, while other participants will engage in the MOOC for lifelong learning without pursuing credit options,” said Mackey. “It’s an open social network because participation and interaction by students and faculty from different disciplines will result in new learning for all of us. The MOOC will allow us to share the learning experience between institutions and among participants around the world.”

Participants not enrolled at UAlbany or ESC may earn credit by enrolling as a nonmatriculated student.

“Metaliteracy MOOC” is ESC’s third MOOC. Creativity and Multicultural Communication and VizMath were the college’s first two and the first two offered by the SUNY system.

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