Thomas Mackey, SUNY Empire – Metaliterate Learners

How do you help yourself avoid misinformation online?

Thomas Mackey, professor in the department of arts and media at SUNY Empire, discusses how to become a better thinker.

Thomas P. Mackey, Ph.D. is Professor in the Department of Arts and Media, School of Arts and Humanities at SUNY Empire State College. His research examines metaliteracy, an empowering pedagogical framework for reflective teaching and learning that he originated with Prof. Trudi E. Jacobson in their article “Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy” (2011) and in their book Metaliteracy: Reinventing Information Literacy to Empower Learners (2014). In 2019, Mackey authored the framing chapter “Empowering Metaliterate Learners for the Post-Truth World” for their third metaliteracy book entitled Metaliterate Learning for the Post-Truth World. He has been invited to keynote on metaliteracy both nationally and internationally and has published several books, peer-reviewed articles, and conference proceedings about his research. Through his work with the Metaliteracy Learning Collaborative, a team he leads with Prof. Jacobson, he has developed several grant-funded Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) including Empowering Yourself in a Post-Truth World, which was identified by Inc. Magazine as one of the “20 Online Courses That Will Make You More Successful in 2020.”

At SUNY Empire State College, Dr. Mackey teaches Information Design, History and Theory of New Media, Digital Storytelling, and Educational Planning. He developed and taught the blended study Ethics of Digital Art and Design for the 2019 Cyprus Residency, and teaches undergraduate independent studies in Digital Portfolio Assessment and graduate-level independent studies in Social & Community Informatics, Advanced Digital Arts & Technology, and Advanced Digital Storytelling. Mackey served as an administrator at SUNY Empire State College for ten years as Associate Dean and Dean of the Center for Distance Learning (CDL), and in senior management roles as Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Interim Provost. Previously, he was a faculty member in the Department of Information Studies, at The University at Albany, SUNY.

Metaliterate Learners


Do you see yourself as a producer of information? Do you reflect on your thinking and learning when participating in social media and online communities? Do you think to look for bias in online information and in yourself? By reflecting on these questions, you are developing as a metaliterate learner.

Metaliteracy prepares individuals to be informed consumers and ethical producers of information. This model is especially relevant today when misinformation circulates online, and personal beliefs or feelings displace objective reasoning. Metaliterate learners reexamine individual bias and rethink fixed mindsets to contribute in meaningful ways. They adapt to changing technologies and leverage these resources to create and share original content.

The meta prefix in metaliteracy refers to metacognition or thinking about your own thinking. Metacognition is empowering not only because it provides individuals with insights about their thinking but encourages them to take charge of their learning.  By analyzing how feelings and beliefs impact thoughts and actions, individuals gain a critical perspective on these relationships. They are encouraged to see themselves in active roles, such as producer, researcher, and teacher, while assessing their responsibilities and identifying areas for continued growth. This comprehensive approach to learning advances civic-minded characteristics to reinforce effective participation within a range of social settings.

The next time you engage with information that you have a strong reaction to, either negatively or positively, or that you are not sure about because it may be deceptive or untruthful, apply a metaliteracy mindset to the information, to create and share content that is true and reliable.

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