Longbourn-Book Review 2

I just recently, within the last five days finished Longbourn by Jo Baker.  As a member of the ‘Lovers of Jane Austen Army,’ I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book that featured the servants at Longbourn, the estate that is the focus of Pride and Prejudice.  For its entertainment value I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed/enjoys Jane Austen novels.

However, I do want to point out that Ms. Baker does infuse a touch of 21st century sensibilities that her characters probably would not be cognizant of, given their social positions and what they probably would have known and understood of national  and world issues.  For example, when Sarah tells Ptolemy Bingley that she is sorry he was born a slave.  Would she really have felt compelled to say that?  Would she really have understood what that meant?  Then again, I guess must defer to others who have more knowledge of what the majority of the population understood and knew at that period of time.  Such as Ms. Baker herself, who did quite a bit of research for the book, and others.

Again, very enjoyable.  Longbourn is a good piece of fiction if you enjoy stories from that time period (18th century).

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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 Slate.com 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 Slate.com 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!

Book Sale at My Library Today and Tomorrow

We are 17 minutes into a two day book sale at our library today and the place is mobbed.  Books, LPs, scores and ephemera are all up for grabs.  I have worked in libraries for many years now, and in an independent bookstore (Bank Square Books), years ago, and I still love the excitement that accompanies such events.  There are students, staff and faculty all over the place.  It is really crowded.  Everyone is pouring over the pickings, piles are accumulating at the edges, friends are declaring jealousy over coveted finds.  It is invigorating to see the hunger and excitement on everyone’s face, the longing in the eyes of those who have to run off to class, the delight in those who ‘stumble’ upon the sale, the gratitude of the buyers being able to acquire their finds so cheaply, the anxious inquires over the location of the nearest ATM, the tense moments when another shopper mistakenly starts browsing someone else’s pile.  Book sales are great!

And yet . . . I sit here at the Reference Desk, as the book sale plays out in front of me, literally about three feet (the depth of the desk) away from me (because it is raining outside).  I’m in the middle of it and yet strangely removed from it.  I’m just doing my regular Reference Desk shift.  As a result, I can’t browse the sale myself.  So, while I love all the excitement over the book sale, I am intensely jealous.  I cheer for everyone finding such great things and secretly my heart is saying, like an immature toddler: ‘But I want those!’  So here I sit, loving the excitement and suffering from a serious case of the book sale blues.  Anyone have a reference question?

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.

Hooray for Books!-Book Review (1)

Last night, I finished reading Pete Brown’s Shakespeare’s Pub: a Barstool History of London as Seen Through the Windows of Its Oldest Pub-The George Inn, which just came out from St. Martin’s Press last year (2012).  A thoroughly enjoyable read!  It has history, literature and humor all mixed into one very accessible volume.  And, seeing as all these elements appeal to me, it is partly what enticed me to read it in the first place.  I think the review I read of it also helped, wish I could remember which one it was.  So, if you enjoy books about London history with a nice infusion of the social and architectural elements surrounding that history, you will enjoy Brown’s book.  I read it for fun and am very glad I did.  Thanks to Pete Brown for writing Shakespeare’s Pub.

Finally got through the topic 1 readings . . . still fascinated . . . still somewhat confused

Hi, I’m still behind but still very much motivated to continue.  I just finished the articles from topic 1 on transparency and reframing information literacy.

I want to start by following up from my last post and attempt to answer the question about what a Metaliterate Learner is.  Basically, and forgive me as I am still developing my ability to articulate these concepts as clearly as others, it is someone who is information literate and can navigate across multiple platforms online to find and disseminate information and then create and contribute content/information to the ongoing conversation of the topic of their choice.  Yes, I know, probably not exactly an accurate definition and clearly clunky, but putting a definition into words at least helps me enhance my understanding of metaliteracy overall. 

As for my reaction to the articles, I think I have a much better understanding of what metaliteracy is.  Although, the skeptic in me says: Isn’t metaliteracy, as it has been defined and fleshed out in the Mackey and Jacobson article, just the 21st century definition of information literacy?  I will admit, I’m still struggling with the relationship between metaliteracy and information literacy.  I know some of you will chime in and stress the creation part of metaliteracy as an aspect that is different from information literacy, but I’m not completely convinced.  Couldn’t one argue that the creation of content online part is simply part of what information literacy is today?  I don’t know . . . maybe it is just my novice showing through.

Finally, while reading these articles, especially the one on transparency, I became increasingly impressed about how this MOOC is practicing what Tom describes.  The entire class demonstrates all the characteristics of transparent design that he outlines, thus making it very easy to understand what he is writing about.  Pretty cool.

Ok, back to work and some topic 2 materials.  Maybe I can make a dent in them before Wednesday’s talk.  Maybe . . .

Dipping my toe into the Metaliteracy MOOC waters

I have wanted to start a blog for a while.  Last week I joined the Metaliteracy MOOC and one of the suggestions is to link your blog to the course and write about the class.  So, here I am.  I will admit I’m a little late to the class but I am here nonetheless.  Part of my hesitation for joining is due to the fact that I am an academic librarian and of course we are only in our fourth week of classes.  It is a bit hectic around here.  Also, the word metaliteracy confused me and intimidated the heck out of me.  But, the more I thought about the class I realized it was an important topic and that I should try to join the conversation.

So, I listened to the first talk yesterday in the midst of processing interlibrary loan requests, checking email, talking to colleagues and watching the clock for my approaching Reference Desk shift at 10 am.  I tried to take some notes as I listened on the questions Tom Mackey posed.  Here is some of what I came up with, as well as some additional thoughts as I write.  And, I will admit, I haven’t done the readings yet.  I’ll sneak a bit of that in today between teaching, a faculty meeting, more interlibrary loan and a Reference Desk shift late this afternoon.

What is metaliteracy? (this is coming prior to me reading any definitions)

  • knowledge,adept, active participant, skilled, expert?, lifetime learner
  • meta-core, key, about, beyond
  • literacy about literacy? (although now I don’t think this is really hitting the mark, but that is what I put in my brainstorming notes)

What is a Metaliterate Learner?

  • Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer this one.  I decided I would get to the end of Talk 1 and do the readings.  

How different is metaliteracy from information literacy?

  • knowledge beyond just engaging with the information and thinking critically . . . knowing how to take information and using it to engage with others and create new information and knowledge

I hope I’m not too far off the mark.  So far, the class is really fascinating.  I really want to stick with it, provided I am able to catch up.  I will try to follow up with another post once I finish the readings.

And as far is the whole blog is concerned, I will eventually morph it into something else.  But for now I think I will use it exclusively for the Metaliteracy MOOC.