The University Record, September 5, 2000

Online instructional materials offered through new partnership

By Wanda Monroe
Office of the Chief Information Officer

Instructors who want to incorporate interactive demonstrations in their classrooms will soon be able to retrieve high quality, peer-reviewed learning materials from the Web. Through a new partnership between educational institutions called the Multimedia Education Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT), professors from around the world are submitting teaching aids in various disciplines to share with the educational community.

Eight faculty from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses will serve as peer reviewers.

“Our initial undertaking will be to lead the review of health sciences and chemistry and participate in the reviews of information technology, psychology and education,” says Carl Berger, MERLOT project director for the University and professor of science and technology education. “Faculty members throughout the U-M system will be selected early in the fall to participate on peer review teams,” he says.

“Last year, nearly 70 percent of the faculty indicated through the University’s Information Technology Faculty Survey that they would like to use the Web for collaboration and to present their work to others around the world,” says Josť-Marie Griffiths, university chief information officer. “The MERLOT project will facilitate collaboration and sharing among scholars while enabling the collaborative improvement of teaching and learning. We are delighted to participate in this new initiative that will enhance many aspects of the scholarly experience,” she adds.

“The number of professors who use online teaching materials in their courses grows daily. Yet most faculty members have a hard time finding good Web-based teaching content that is relevant to their discipline,” says David J. Ernst, acting CEO for MERLOT and chief technology officer at the California State University, which created MERLOT two years ago.

“We expect the MERLOT project to both improve the quality of learning materials available and to help institutions avoid duplication of effort.” Currently 23 partners are collaborating on the MERLOT project. Each organization contributes financial and faculty resources to evaluate materials on the Web site.

MERLOT’s mission is to “improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning by expanding the quantity and quality of peer-reviewed online learning materials that can be easily incorporated into faculty designed courses.”

The MERLOT project will offer a Web site that lists more than 3,000 learning materials that typically are components of courses, such as a laboratory simulation, rather than complete Web-based courses. They will be given a “one-to-five star” rating based on recommendations from the faculty peer review panels. The Web site, which can be found at www.merlot.org, also will offer advice about how to create student assignments, and will allow users to post comments about the materials.

The institutions participating in the project include:

Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities Distance Education Network; California Community College System; California State University; Canadian CAREO Project (Universities of Alberta and Calgary); Canadian COHERE Project (Universities of Alberta, Guelph, Waterloo and York University); Council of Independent Colleges and Foundation for Independent Higher Education; Florida Board of Regents and Florida Community College System; Illinois Board of Higher Education; Indiana Commission for Higher Education; Iowa Board of Regents; Louisiana Board of Regents;

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education; South Dakota Board of Regents; State University of New York; Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee; Troy State University; University of Hawaii; University of Michigan; University of North Carolina; University System of Georgia; University of Wisconsin System; Virginia Community College System; Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (representing Universities of Utah, Nevada-Las Vegas, Wyoming, Arizona State University, and the Community Colleges of Colorado).

For more information, visit the MERLOT “Tasting Room” at http://taste.merlot.org.