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Metaliteracy is the ability to evaluate information for its bias, reliability, and credibility and apply them in the context of production and sharing of knowledge. It is especially useful in the context of the internet and social media.[1] A formal concept of it was developed as an expanded information literacy framework by State University of New York academics Thomas P. Mackey and Trudi E. Jacobson. It has been used to prepare people to be informed consumers and responsible producers of information in a variety of social communities.

Definition and usage[edit]

Metaliteracy is a unified understanding of literacies to support the acquisition, production, and sharing of knowledge in collaborative online communities. Like the more skills-based approaches of information literacy, metaliteracy encourages the use of a variety of new and emerging technologies. It also incorporates related literacies such as visual literacy, digital literacy, media literacy, and transliteracy, and promotes metacognitive reflection as an empowering practice for learners. Metaliteracy supports effective participation in social media and online communities, with a comprehensive approach to learning that encourages the production and sharing of original and repurposed information in participatory environments.[2]

Metaliteracy is intended to promote critical thinking and collaboration in the digital age and provide a comprehensive framework for effective participation in social media and online communities through acquisition, production and sharing of knowledge in collaborative online communities. While information literacy was focused on skills-based approaches and its standard definitions had been insufficient for the social technologies currently prevalent online, metaliteracy recognizes related literacy types and incorporates emerging technologies.[2][3] As such metaliteracy is an overarching framework for integrating information literacy with other literacies such as media literacy, digital literacy, and visual literacy. It puts an emphasis on active production and sharing of new knowledge through technology.[4]

Metaliteracy can be used in the practical world by helping learners with elusive topics throughout their learning and to understand the concepts better. It goes beyond information literacy and dives deep into enhancing the teaching- learning process by including the production aspect of accessible reference material which can be consumed by a wide audience over social media. Metaliteracy is particularly relevant to current literacy needs as it not only addresses the integration of information and technology, helping to optimize the use of available resources; but also introduces the use of collaborative learning to better produce and share information.[1]


Metaliteracy developed out of scholarly work on the changing perceptions of information literacy resulting from technological changes in the creation of and access to information. Mackey and Jacobson argued in their 2011 paper, Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy, that it was necessary to create a new framework to withstand the challenge of rising social media networks and emerging technologies and therefore include Web 2.0 technologies and social media as these developments were not included in previous Information Literacy models created by the ALA in 1989,[3] ACRL in 2000[4] and various SCONUL models.[5] Donna Witek and Teresa Grettano further elaborated on the idea of metaliteracy in Teaching Metaliteracy: A New Paradigm in Action.[6] Leona M. Ungerer discussed the importance of digital curation and metaliteracy in higher education in her 2016 paper Digital Curation as a Core Competency in Current Learning and Literacy: A Higher Education Perspective.[7]

On January 11, 2016, the board of the Association of College and Research Libraries adopted the Framework for Information Literacy, which draws upon the concept of metaliteracy, inextricably linked to the domains of "behavioral, affective, cognitive, and metacognitive engagement with the information ecosystem."[8]


The objectives are categorized in four domains: behavioral, cognitive, affective and metacognitive. The frameworks of information literacy consisted of the first two mentioned domains (the behavioral and cognitive), while the affective and metacognitive domains are introduced in the discourse by the framework of metaliteracy.[9] The behavioral domain is based on the skills and competencies expected to be achieved by completing the objectives and the cognitive domain is based on the knowledge of using comprehension, organization, application and evaluation expected to be achieved by completing the objectives. The affective domain is based on raising awareness about the changes in one’s emotions and attitudes during learning activities and the metacognitive domain is based on reflecting the process of learning while understanding the need for it.[10]

The goals and objectives of metaliteracy have been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Afrikaans, and all other official languages of South Africa.[11]

In education[edit]

As awareness of metaliteracy has spread, teachers have integrated it into a variety of contexts, including English as foreign language[12] and adapting information literacy assessment strategies to reflect metaliteracy's emphasis on metacognition.[13]

In the acquisition of information in modern technology, metaliteracy is mentioned as a concept. It is used in teaching about the use of social media as an information source.[14] The potential of metaliteracy concepts to enrich blended learning environments in China has been investigated by Ma, Li, and Liang and has been found beneficial to test how much it helps the students acquire skills relevant for information literacy.[15] Furthermore, metaliteracy has been acknowledged as a useful concept for the promotion of information literacy in German universities.[16] Such inclusion was also suggested in 2019 for Bosnian higher education.[17]

Additionally, metaliteracy can be used to reduce digital divide. In an empirical study concerning the connection of older adults to iPad technology, their metaliteracy skills were examined. Metaliteracy was measured before and after using the iPad. The study showed that the participants were able to improve their metaliteracy skills including their knowledge and self-reflection.[18]

Importance for understanding political media[edit]

Metaliteracy has been cited as being an effective tool to fight false or misleading content presented as news, especially in the context of the 2016 United States presidential election.[19]

In Does Media Literacy Help Identification of Fake News? Information Literacy Helps, but Other Literacies Don't,[20] metaliteracy is mentioned as a solution for a need of a comprehensive framework regarding the better handling of fake news, although they still see a need for more comprehensive measures.


  1. ^ a b Mackey, Thomas P.; Jacobson, Trudi E. (2011-01-01). "Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy". College & Research Libraries. 72 (1): 62–78. doi:10.5860/crl-76r1. ISSN 2150-6701.
  2. ^ a b Mackey, Thomas P. (2014). Metaliteracy : reinventing information literacy to empower learners. Trudi E. Jacobson, Sheila A. Webber. Chicago. ISBN 978-1-55570-989-1. OCLC 871819662.
  3. ^ a b Metaliteracy in practice. Trudi E. Jacobson, Thomas P. Mackey. Chicago. 2016. ISBN 978-0-8389-1387-1. OCLC 1015215606.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ a b Green, Harriett E., "Fostering Assessment Strategies for Digital Pedagogy through Faculty–Librarian Collaborations", Laying the Foundation, Purdue University Press, pp. 179–204, doi:10.2307/j.ctt163t7kq.13, retrieved 2022-01-03
  5. ^ "Seven Pillars of Information Literacy SCONUL". Retrieved 2022-01-03.
  6. ^ Witek, Donna; Grettano, Teresa (2014-06-03). "Teaching metaliteracy: a new paradigm in action". Reference Services Review. 42 (2): 188–208. doi:10.1108/RSR-07-2013-0035. ISSN 0090-7324.
  7. ^ Ungerer, Leona M. (2016-09-26). "Digital Curation as a Core Competency in Current Learning and Literacy: A Higher Education Perspective". The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. 17 (5). doi:10.19173/irrodl.v17i5.2566. ISSN 1492-3831.
  8. ^ DMUELLER (2015-02-09). "Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education". Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). Retrieved 2022-01-03.
  9. ^ Jacobson, T., Mackey, T., & O'Brien, K. (2019). Developing metaliterate citizens: designing and delivering enhanced global learning opportunities. In Learning Information Literacy across the Globe. Frankfurt am Main, May 10th 2019 (pp. 74-89).
  10. ^ Jacobson, T., Mackey, T., O’Brien, K., Forte, M., & O’Keeffe, E. (2018). 2018 metaliteracy goals and learning objectives. Metaliteracy.
  11. ^ Jacobson, Trudi (21 April 2022). "Metaliteracy Goals and Learning Objectives Now Available in All Eleven Official Languages of South Africa!". Retrieved 25 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Schuster, Kristen; Stewart, Kristine (2019-09-24). "Integrating metaliteracy into knowledge organization curriculum: Designing inclusive curriculum for international classrooms".
  13. ^ Old Dominion University; Hostetler, Kirsten; Luo, Tian; Old Dominion University; Stefaniak, Jill E.; University of Georgia (2018-12-01). "Aligning Information Literacy Assessment with Metacognitive Strategies". Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice. 15 (5): 5–16. doi:10.53761/ S2CID 85509774.
  14. ^ Kim, Kyung-Sun; Sin, Sei-Ching Joanna; Yoo-Lee, Eun Young (2014-07-01). "Undergraduates' Use of Social Media as Information Sources". College & Research Libraries. 75 (4): 442–457. doi:10.5860/crl.75.4.442. ISSN 2150-6701.
  15. ^ Ma, Jieming; Li, Chili; Liang, Hai-Ning (2019-04-28). "Enhancing Students' Blended Learning Experience through Embedding Metaliteracy". Education Research International. 2019: 1–8. doi:10.1155/2019/6791058. ISSN 2090-4002.
  16. ^ Sühl-Strohmenger, Wilfried (2017-04-07). "Threshold-Konzepte, das ANCIL-Curriculum und die Metaliteracy – Überlegungen zu Konsequenzen für die Förderung von Informationskompetenz in deutschen Hochschulen". O-bib. Das Offene Bibliotheksjournal / Herausgeber VDB (in German). 4 (1): 10–25. doi:10.5282/o-bib/2017H1S10-25. ISSN 2363-9814.
  17. ^ Rašidović, Beba E. (2019-12-18). "Kurikulum za predmet Informacijska pismenost". Bosniaca: 39–47. doi:10.37083/bosn.2019.24.39. ISSN 2303-8888. S2CID 214300064.
  18. ^ Delello, Julie A.; McWhorter, Rochell R. (January 2017). "Reducing the Digital Divide: Connecting Older Adults to iPad Technology". Journal of Applied Gerontology. 36 (1): 3–28. doi:10.1177/0733464815589985. ISSN 0733-4648. PMID 26084479. S2CID 8367860.
  19. ^ Mackey, Thomas P.; Jacobson, Trudi. "How can we learn to reject fake news in the digital world?". The Conversation. Retrieved 2022-01-03.
  20. ^ Jones-Jang, S. Mo; Mortensen, Tara; Liu, Jingjing (February 2021). "Does Media Literacy Help Identification of Fake News? Information Literacy Helps, but Other Literacies Don't". American Behavioral Scientist. 65 (2): 371–388. doi:10.1177/0002764219869406. ISSN 0002-7642. S2CID 203102540.