Topic 4: Visual Literacy . . . I’m not an expert, but I have questions . . .

Visual Literacy

Boy has it been a while.  A young family and full-time work certainly has its ups and downs.  I have been thinking a long time about the visual literacy section of my Metaliteracy MOOC.  I will be the first to admit that I have a long way to go on being visually literate myself, at least according to the ‘ACRL Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.’  I read all the materials for the section, listened to/watched all the presentations.  I liked Brian Stone’s presentation.  He is doing some really great stuff.  But what gave me pause was David McCandless’ TED talk about the beauty of data.  His talk was interesting but at the end of it I kept asking myself, ‘But what has he left out of these infographics he has created?’  ‘For the sake of getting across a particular point with the data he does have/presents, what don’t we know?’  I even interlibrary loaned David’s book just to see some more of his work.

Now, I know I should dig really deep and long in order to truly answer these questions.  But I’m not going to.  Really, by asking these questions I just want to caution anyone looking at such infographics, or any type of information.  One should always be questioning the validity of the information being presented to you.  One should always make sure their facts and data are accurate and correct and always be aware of any agendas a presenter has when presenting information to you, whether it is online, in a book, in a journal article, anywhere really.  For example, I took the transcript of David’s TED talk and searched it to see how often particular words were used just to see what kind of data I would get.  My choice of words was pretty random, I could have excluded some, included others, but here is what I got: 

Well, actually I would have shown a graph of what I got but I am an extreme novice at some things and could not figure out how to paste an Excel graph into this post.  (Gee I wish I had an infographic!)  But on that front I am currently illiterate.  The most used word in David’s talk was ‘I’ fifty-five times.    The second most used word, not surprisingly, was ‘data.’  Third, also not surprising, was ‘information’.  Now, I understand that David was talking about his work and what he had done but I did not expect ‘I’ to be the most used word in the talk.  These results prompt me to ask: ‘What was David’s agenda in doing this talk?  Promoting himself or the work?’  Yes, the talk was interesting, but I remain reticent about infographics in general.  For as my cousin said recently: ‘All information on the internet has an agenda.’  Really, all information has an agenda.  Clearly David McCandless is trying to convey certain information in his work.  I’m just not sure what even some of that is.  It should be interesting to see what kind of work he does in the future.  And maybe some time in that future I will also learn how to create some infographics of my own. ;P




Topic 3.2 Is there truly a global perspective on metaliteracy? Or is metaliteracy global?

December has just about come and gone.  The semester is long gone.  And 2013 is about to disappear.  And yet I am still slogging thorough the metaliteracy material.  Whew!  I do like the MOOC format but my pace is far slower that the projected time for the folks who took the course for credit.  Many congratulations to them who completed the course in that timeframe.  Nonetheless I am continuing . . . when I can.

Thinking back to Paul Prinsloo’s talk on a global perspective on metaliteracy, I found that, just prior to his talk, I was becoming comfortable with the definition of metaliteracy.  And then Paul went and blew it all apart.  (Apologies, this is going to be a bit of a brain dump.  But if you go and listen to Paul’s talk you will understand why.) [This is from a journal entry back on 11.15.13] I think what jumps out is the fluidity and liquid nature of metaliteracy.  Metaliteracy actually makes more sense  than what seems to be a somewhat static definition from Tom and Trudi.  Paul expanded/blew up the definition and got me thinking about the context.  I think Paul’s emphasis on having a ‘critical consciousness’ for metaliteracy as agency moves my understanding of metaliteracy from a concept word and noun to an action word and verb.  This definition makes metaliteracy far more multi-faceted.  More complicated?  Yes.  Harder to understand?  Grasp?  Maybe.  Really, I think this global perspective clarifies what it is, defines it.  I also appreciate how Paul’s ideas ask some poignant questions that force one to think deeply and ask more questions.  In his talk Paul really took metaliteracy and broke it down and built on it at the same time.  What metaliteracy seems to be is critical thinking on steroids.

[This is from another journal entry on 12.4.13]  I like this idea of ‘liquid’ metaliteracy and how one should read the world before reading the word (Freire), how nothing is neutral and Paul’s (in)conclusions.  What Paul does is contextualizes metaliteracy within the global framework.  And although I felt like the metaliteracy rug had been yanked out from under me, what Paul talked and said made sense.  Once I understood his point(s), it became logical that it is necessary to frame metaliteracy in this way.  Without this frame, one cannot really understand what metaliteracy is, why it is important, how it is significant, and the kinds of impacts it has, and can have, on so many different things, people, topics/subjects, thought processes . . . etc. etc. etc.  Metaliteracy cannot be viewed without a global perspective.  And, originally, I thought Paul was only giving his perspective on metaliteracy.  But, upon long reflection and review of my notes, I realized he was, and is, talking about metaliteracy globally.  Metaliteracy is global.  I also appreciated his point about  how, in this networked age, ‘not all [meaning people] are included, but all are affected’ in this Meta/discourse literacy.  It effects everyone, but not everyone is a participant.  Also, his second (in)conclusion [I love that word]: ‘It is crucial to understand who produces (and consumes) information, for what purpose, what claims are made, and who/what supports/excludes the producers and claims.’

To answer my question(s) from this post’s title.  Although I think I already did.  Metaliteracy is global.  Trying to argue that there is a global perspective on metaliteracy is shortsighted and suggests a lack of understanding of what metaliteracy is and can do.  Unless, you want to say that one cannot truly be metaliterate without a global perspective.

Topic 3.1: Confession: OERs scare me

Ok.  I have been delaying this post because (1) I have been really busy with work and family and (2) I’m not quite sure what to say about OERs beyond the fact that they terrify me.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the concept, I agree we should be sharing and using ideas and materials.  But using OERs in the classroom seems like it would be a lot of work.  Mark and Michele’s talk was great.  The talk really got me thinking about the many facets to OERs.  There is  a lot to think about.  And as a librarian who does instruction on how to do research and is always looking for new ideas, I’m still not brave enough to explore beyond the mainstream.  My concerns are partly due to not knowing if OERs have been properly vetted and being unsure about vetting them myself.  And I am also not confident enough to actually contribute something of my own.  So, at this point, all I can say about OERs is, yes, I think they are a cool idea, but I’m not ready to go there.  I need to get some more information and feedback on OERs before I would be willing to dive into that arena.  Given my time constraints and all the other things in my life demanding attention, I’m concerned I cannot give these materials the attention they need to then turn around and use them constructively and effectively in the classroom.  However I do like the idea of their use as part of a way to supplement and enhance a primary text or texts (not necessarily a textbook) in a class.

Holy Metaliteracy Batman!

So there I was, checking my email and saw one from Twitter suggesting some people to follow, based upon my recent decision to follow Librarian Wardrobe (@LibWardrobe).  So I jumped out to Twitter to see who these folks are and decided to follow one of them John Jackson (@johnxlibris) and then found another that he follows, Chaucer Doth Tweet (@LeVostreGC) and decided to follow that one (yes, this is revealing a bit of my nerdiness but it makes me laugh).  And then I went back to my home page on Twitter to see some recent posts and retweeted a call for writers from The Fetch (@thefetch), because someone I know might be looking for a writing gig, and a link to an article tweeted by @lbraun2000! and retweeted by one of the people I have been following, Kate (@itsjustkate).  It was to an article on about eavesdropping on the train.  Read it.  It is a good article.  Now the article itself I found interesting for many reasons: the issue of people carelessly discussing non-public matters in such a public place, the idea that eavesdropping is ok, the idea that retweeting someone else’s publicly overheard business is ok and the fact that men were publicly expressing extremely biased opinions about a female co-worker in public (despite the fact that basic biology proves that it is purely dumb luck that they were even born male themselves, thus making their comments not only wrong and out-of-place in the 21st century but also totally ridiculous).  But I won’t get into any of that further here.  What struck me the most about this article was the metaliteracy skills of the author, Amy Webb.  She was able to scan the ticket stubs of fellow passengers for their names, quickly found their profiles on social media sites, even found a satellite image of one of their homes, turned around and tweeted about them and eventually wrote an article for about her eavesdropping practices and the similar practices of others.  I would say this is a wonderful example of someone who is really adept at metaliteracy and makes a living using those skills.  Quite impressive.  This is truly metaliteracy at work.  Bravo Amy!

Topic 2 Metacognition readings and talk . . . Ok who was eating chips while Char was talking?

I am finally almost caught up.  I still need to finish up some of the readings that Char recommended.  The Schraw and Moshman article is very dense, so it is taking a while for me to get through and then I can move on to the Flavell.

In terms of how these readings have resonated for me I think the article on the big six information skills by Sara Wolf was the most significant.  As an academic librarian, it made me think a little more carefully about how I teach my library sessions and how I can approach some of the research concepts differently as I present them to my students.  I will definitely be thinking more carefully about how I present skills 2 (Information Seeking Strategies) and 3 (Location and Access) as I teach sessions this semester in an effort to get them to apply metacognition to their research process(es).  Wish me luck!

The Schraw and Moshman, while informative, seemed much more in the vein of theoretical background information on metacognition.  Yes, useful information, but I fail to see how to apply the concepts included to my own metacognitive practice, as well as in the classroom.  And of course I still have to read the Flavell.  Sorry . . .

Char’s talk, great, she is always awesome, also enjoyed the recording of the closing keynote, but I got more out of her responses to questions that from her actual presentation, which seemed to simply be an outline of the readings.  Although I’m glad I both listened to the talk and read the articles.  (Or will read the articles ;P)

In the midst of all the materials for this topic I really was impressed with how much metacognition informs the practices of metaliteracy.  Although I see a slight difference in the sense that metacognition seems to be more engagement with oneself and one’s thinking, where as metaliteracy’s focus is on engagement with others and the conversations surrounding a particular topic.  It is that engagement piece that keeps bubbling up to the surface as I think about these concepts.  Interesting . . .

Now, about the activity about sharing metaliteracy terms and concepts.  Still working on it, but I have a few things . . . soon.