Sadly not the wine but still very good. I've been interested in MERLOT, the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, for awhile; it's a great source for digital learning objects (the kinds of online tutorials, simulations, quizzes, etc. that can be used in classes; they're often small modules rather than whole courses–smaller pieces that can be used in various ways within a class, though MERLOT also includes much larger online multimedia courses or projects) in all subject areas, which are submitted by members of the community and are searchable by anyone. I have subscribed to the RSS feeds for the new resources (both in general and in specific subject areas like Teaching and Learning) for awhile but I wanted to learn more about it since they seem to have added or beefed up a number of features. So I signed up for a TLT group workshop, "Enhancing Teaching with Technology using MERLOT."

Today is the last day of the workshop and it's been a good introduction. The first session was an overview of the site and its governance (a lot of which I'd heard before). But the second and third went more into depth in the areas that I cared about most. I became a member of the site (you don't have to to use it but you do to submit and peer review materials); I'll be doing something similar for the SOS for Information Literacy's higher education repository (and should be already for NSDL though I've been delinquent) and it's possible to do so for MERLOT as well. About 15% of the resources in the collections are peer-reviewed by members, which gives you a better idea of how good they are. MERLOT also has a number of other neat features like:

  • Snapshots: For each resource, the author or submitter can indicate tips on how best to use the resource
  • Communities/portals for various subjects that include not only the MERLOT resources for that particular subjects but also other web resources not included in the collection, a community of editors who contribute content, tips on teaching, and a showcase for best materials
  • The aforementioned RSS feeds of new resources added to MERLOT but I also learned that MERLOT's made web pages of them already that you link to from course sites (and Blackboard, WebCT and Desire2Learn all have building blocks that integrate them)

All in all, quite useful. I'm hoping that I can get this in our database list, work up seminars for faculty (maybe in conjunction with our academic tech or learning & teaching folks) to let them know how much is out there for use in their courses (and for their students to use to add to their presentations and projects and study repetoires). If we ever do outreach portals or subject guides that include theses kinds of resources the RSS feeds will also come in handy. And if I can get going on the resource recommendations for various repositories then MERLOT will be another source of material and another place to peer review.