This week Gerry Hanley, the Executive Director of MERLOT, will be one of the experts answering questions and guiding the discussion. He provided the
background and contact information reproduced below. ______JH
Thank you Susan for the introduction and the invitation to participate in the very important initiative to understand, innovate, and apply open education resources for the betterment of individuals and organizations worldwide.
Thank you in advance to all who might participate in the online discussion about MERLOT and OER. It’s a pleasure to join in the worldwide discussion from the California State University System in Long Beach California, USA.
The focus of the recent discussions has been on how users are applying open content in education. Ultimately, it is the uses and users of the open education resources that will sustain the OER movement and enable OER to become reliable resources for educators around the world.
In this UNESCO session, I would like to invite you learn about MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching at www.merlot.org) and to learn how participating the MERLOT’s open community could help you achieve your individual and institutional educational goals with OER. I will provide links directly into the website and of course you are free to explore MERLOT in any way that suits your needs.
There are 4 basic elements to MERLOT.
ELEMENT #1: MERLOT PROVIDES OPEN and FREE ACCESS TO ONLINE EDUCATIONAL CONTENT
At www.merlot.org, you have an open and growing library of almost 13, 000 online teaching and learning materials (simulations, animations, tutorials, case studies, etc.) across the breadth of academic disciplines in the arts, business, education, health sciences, humanities, math, natural sciences, social sciences, and technology. The predominate educational level of the materials is for higher education but primary and secondary schools (K-12) as well as graduate school and professional level materials are also available.
SEE WHAT THIS MEANS:
Browse the MERLOT Collection at: http://www.merlot.org/artifact/BrowseArtifacts.po?firsttime=true
- Click on the subject area names and you will get a hit list of materials cataloged in this area. The number in the parentheses next to the terms let you know how many materials are in that subject area.
- Click on the red triangles with the pluses and you will be able to browse the sub-areas within your selected topic.
- Click on the name of the subject area (the underline words in the “Browse Path” area of the screen) and you’ll get a hit list of materials that have been cataloged under that subject area.
- Click on the name of the title of a material in the hit list and you’ll get a description of material. See http://www.merlot.org/home/MaterialView.po for an explanation of the information you'll find when you review the MERLOT description of materials
- Have fun and explore the MERLOT collection. You’ll notice that the collection is uneven in its depth and breadth. This means there are many opportunities for you to contribute to the growing collection.
ELEMENT #2: MERLOT IS AN OPEN COMMUNITY FOR EVERYONE TO PARTICIPATE IN FOR FREE
The open MERLOT Community consists of over 30,000 registered members (growing at over 1,000 people per month). It is free to search, browse, and find online materials in MERLOT as an anonymous user. It is free to become an individual registered member of MERLOT and use the free member services. A principle feature of the MERLOT vision is to be a premier community where faculty, staff, and students from around the world can share online learning materials and pedagogy.
SEE WHAT THIS MEANS:
Browse the Member Directory at: http://www.merlot.org/person/MemberDirectory.po (you can also click on “Member Directory” in the horizontal navigation bar on www.merlot.org )
· Click on the subject area names and you will get a hit list of people who have cataloged themselves as having expertise in this subject area. The number in the parentheses next to the terms let you know how many people are in that subject area.
· Anyone can create a member profile within MERLOT when the register as a member. To show you what a member profile looks like, see mine at: http://www.merlot.org/person/PersonDetail.po?oid=3000000000000361829
· Anyone can create their own webpage that describes who they are to the level of detail they choose for free.
· Click on the term “Personal Collections” on the horizontal navigation bar ad see how I’ve created my own MERLOT personal collection of materials with the descriptions that put a local context on how I’ve used these globally available materials.
· Click on the “back button” to go back to my Member Profile page and then scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click on “submitted” to see how I’ve contributed to the MERLOT Collection. You can contribute materials to the MERLOT collection as well. (I’ll describe how to do this below).
· WANT TO BECOME A MERLOT MEMBER? GO TO: http://www.merlot.org/person/CreatePerson.po
ELEMENT #3: OPEN WORKPLACE FOR MEMBERS TO CREATE LOCAL RELEVANCE
MERLOT is an open workplace for MERLOT members to participate in the building of an open global collection of content, augmented by local educational contexts. The open workplace enables people around the world to share the content they have found valuable, share their teaching and learning strategies, share evaluations on the quality and utility of the materials, share their “lesson plans,” and share their personal collections of materials.
The MERLOT collection is created by the MERLOT community through the open workplace. You have to be a member of MERLOT to contribute which results in an explicit connection between content and the person who thinks it is relevant and valuable to the education community.
SEE WHAT THIS MEANS:
- You can contribute materials that you think are relevant and valuable to the MERLOT community. Go to: http://www.merlot.org/artifact/AddArtifact.po (remember you need to be a member to contribute material). You can contribute your own materials or you can contribute materials you’ve found on the web which you think would be useful to your colleagues. You can contribute materials in any language. If you explore the “Contribute Materials” page, you’ll see that there is a wide range of content and types of materials that you can contribute to MERLOT and you can catalog the same materials in multiple subject areas.
The MERLOT Open Workplace is where the people of the world can contribute their authentic content, their cultural context, and local.
MERLOT IS ALL ABOUT GIVING EVERYONE AN EQUAL FORUM FOR CONTRIBUTING CONTENT AND PEDAGOGY SO EVERYONE CAN LEARN FROM EACH OTHER.
ELEMENT # 4: COOPERATIVE OF ORGANIZATIONS TO MANAGE OPENNESS
A cooperative of organizations where each organization contributes what it can to advance MERLOT’s mission. Organizations funds, in-kind services, marketing, technology, leadership, and the will to improve education. Over 500 higher education campuses (independent campuses and those part of state systems in the US and Canada), 21 academic professional societies and digital libraries, and 24 sponsoring corporations compose the cooperative. The California State University System, which created MERLOT in 1997, is the administering institution and facilitating leader of the cooperative organization, technology development and deployment, and process manager of its products and services.
To see the list of current members of the MERLOT Cooperative, go to: http://taste.merlot.org/participating/partner/all_list.htm/
Want to join the MERLOT Cooperative, go to: http://taste.merlot.org/participating/
One of the critical services that the MERLOT Cooperative performs is the peer review of the content. Given the openness of the building of the collection by its community members, there was a recognized need for MERLOT to peer review the materials in the collection. MERLOT establishes and manages editorial boards within the discipline areas. Each editorial board uses the following 3 criteria:
- quality of the content
- potential effectiveness as a teaching and learning tool
- ease of use
To see what a peer review looks like, go to: http://www.merlot.org/artifact/PeerReviewDetail.po?rOid=1400000000000010143 for the material we examined earlier (The Cameron Balloon Factory). For more information about MERLOT’s peer review process, go to http://taste.merlot.org/catalog/peer_review/
I hope this brief overview of MERLOT has provided you an opportunity to understand how MERLOT works and can work for you in advancing your OER and educational initiatives.
I look forward to answering questions and providing clarifications about MERLOT. My apology in advance if I have provided guidance on how to use MERLOT in a confusing manner.
Gerard L. Hanley, Ph.D.
Executive Director, MERLOT
(Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching)
Senior Director, Academic Technology Services
California State University, Office of the Chancellor
401 Golden Shore
Long Beach CA 90802