MERLOT (Multimedia Education Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) at www.merlot.org is an online repository and International consortium of institutions (and systems) of higher education, industry partners, professional organizations and individuals. MERLOT partners and members are devoted to identifying, peer reviewing, organizing and making available existing online learning resources in a range of academic disciplines for use by higher education faculty and students.
MERLOT is a community of staff, volunteers, and members who work together in various ways to provide users of OER (Open Educational Resource) teaching and learning materials with a wealth of services and functions that can enhance their instructional experience. You can learn more about the community by clicking on the links below.
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The MERLOT project began in 1997, when the California State University Center for Distributed Learning (CSU-CDL at www.cdl.edu) developed MERLOT. Under the leadership of Chuck Schneebeck, CSU-CDL's Director at the time, MERLOT was modeled after the NSF funded project, "Authoring Tools and An Educational Object Economy (EOE)". Led by Dr. James Spohre and hosted by Apple Computer, and other industry, university, and government collaborators, the EOE developed and distributed tools to enable the formation of communities engaged in building shared knowledge bases of learning materials.
In 1998, a State Higher Education Executives Organization/American Productivity and Quality Center (SHEEO/APQC) benchmarking study on faculty development and instructional technology selected the CSU-CDL as one of six best practices centers in North America. Visitations to the CSU-CDL by higher education institutions participating in the benchmarking students resulted in interest in collaborating with the CSU on the MERLOT project. The University of Georgia System, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, University of North Carolina System, and the California State University System created an informal consortium representing almost one hundred campuses serving over 900,000 students and over 47,000 faculty. SHEEO was the coordinator for the cooperative of the four state systems.
In 1999, the four systems recognized the significant benefits of a cooperative initiative to expand the MERLOT collections, conduct peer reviews of the digital learning materials, and add student learning assignments. Each system contributed $20,000 in cash to develop the MERLOT software and over $30,000 in in-kind support to advance the collaborative project. The CSU maintained its leadership of and responsibilities for the operation and improvement of processes and tools.In January, 2000, the four systems sponsored 48 faculty from the disciplines of Biology, Physics, Business and Teacher Education (12 faculty from each of the four systems) to develop evaluation standards and peer review processes for online materials in the MERLOT collection.
In April, 2000, other systems and institutions of higher education were invited to join the MERLOT cooperative. In July, 2000, twenty-three (23) systems and institutions of higher education had become Institutional Partners of MERLOT. Each Institutional Partner contributed $25,000 and in-kind support for eight faculty and a project director (part-time) to coordinate MERLOT activities. The CSU continued its leadership of and responsibilities for the operation and improvement of processes and tools.
In 2009, MERLOT took over The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's KEEP Toolkit and it became the MERLOT Content Builder. At that time, any KEEP Toolkit user who wished to maintain their web pages could become a MERLOT member and automatically have their projects migrated and hosted by MERLOT.
MERLOT has been particularly influential in the development of online education and has been successful in, "developing a professional evaluation model to promote scholarship of teaching in the universities." MERLOT hosts one of the world's largest collections of Open textbooks through the Open Textbook Project in collaboration with student-run Public Interest Research Groups. In addition, MERLOT has been cited as one of the most effective electronic portals for health care information.
MERLOT has been influential as a model in the development of other online communities and resource repositories, including innovative collaborations with IBM and the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative (an Educause program), and as an important tool for educational reform (especially in STEM fields). MERLOT has itself become the subject of much research.
MERLOT Volunteer Staff
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Members of MERLOT communities are vital to its success. Community Members help grow the MERLOT collection by contributing materials, and adding assignments and comments. Additionally, they introduce others in the discipline to MERLOT by presenting at conferences, authoring articles about MERLOT, and encouraging others to use and contribute to MERLOT.
Volunteer community Members work with MERLOT staff to develop policies and practices that govern MERLOT's operations. These volunteers are member of Editorial Boards and Project Directors.
Editorial boards are the cornerstones of MERLOT. They lead the development of MERLOT's discipline communities. There is one Editorial Board for each community, composed of an Editor, Associate Editors and Peer Reviewers.
Editors, Associate Editors, and peer reviewers are nominated by System Partners, Campus Partners, and the MERLOT Management Team. Many peer reviewers are those who volunteer their own time to review for MERLOT. All MERLOT editorial board members are faculty with:
- Expertise in the scholarship of their field
- Excellence in teaching
- Experience in using technology in teaching and learning
- Connections to professional organizations in their discipline.
Each editorial board is responsible for:
- Expanding and managing the collection of online learning materials in its discipline.
- Educating and reaching out to the community of educators in its discipline.
- Implementing and managing the MERLOT peer review process for materials in its discipline.
- Recruiting and training peer reviewers.
The MERLOT Leadership Council is composed of all of the Project Directors from System and Campus Partners, along with Editors from each of the MERLOT Discipline Communities. Project Directors have critical responsibilities in managing their institution’s participation in MERLOT and MERLOT’s connection to their institution’s academic technology initiatives. Responsibilities of Project Directors include participation in MERLOT’s governance activities, selection of Editors and editorial board members, supervision of editorial board members, and management of their institutions’ partnership with MERLOT. MERLOT provides Project Directors with online tools and analytics to assist them in monitoring their members' participation in MERLOT.
Members of MERLOT are part of a variety of communities that are vital to MERLOT's success. Community members help grow the MERLOT collection by contributing materials and adding assignments and comments. Additionally, they introduce others in the discipline to MERLOT by presenting at conferences, authoring articles about MERLOT, and encouraging others to use and contribute to MERLOT. MERLOT Partners are also critical of the growth of the MERLOT community.
These communities are categorized as:
Promoting Community Relations MERLOT encourages interaction among its Members by providing social networking services and functions that enable dialogue among Members. For example, MERLOT Voices is MERLOT's community networking site, that enables Members to collaborate with all MERLOT Members who are interested in joining particular communities related to the missions of MERLOT Members can join, can others to join, to participate in community conversations, customize their own Voices community webpage, and even add videos related to online learning and teaching.
MERLOT also provides community discussion forums for every material in the collection. Members may provide comments on any material they discover in the collection, and initiate a discussion among Members about that material.
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