Putting Innovations into Practice for Education

The Grapevine

Issue #4 – Fall 2005











O'Reilly and MERLOT working together to serve educational needs
Safari BookshelfIn recognition of their shared values, mission, and goals, MERLOT and O’Reilly Media, Inc. will be delivering innovative services and advancing MERLOT’s peer review of online resources in IT. O'Reilly Media, Inc. is the premier information source for leading-edge computer technologies. O'Reilly books, known for the animals on their covers, occupy a treasured place on the shelves of software developers.

SafariU is O'Reilly Media's new Web-based platform for creating and sharing custom course materials online and in print. SafariU gives Computer Science and Information Technology educators access to the most current repository of computer technology content available, and allows them to create print textbooks and online syllabi tailored precisely to their teaching needs. What’s in the works are services enabling MERLOT and O'Reilly users to incorporate more high quality online resources into faculty-designed courses.

O’Reilly is sponsoring MERLOT-O’Reilly Fellowship Program which will enable  MERLOT to choose and support faculty leadership on the MERLOT Information Technology Editorial Board. The Editor, Associate Editor and Portal Editor of the IT Editorial Board have been designated as MERLOT- O’Reilly Fellows.

O'Reilly and MERLOT will collaboratively develop technology tools and services to integrate access to MERLOT and O'Reilly resources to give the IT community easy access to high quality, relevant digital content. In addition to SafariU's tools for creating course materials, O'Reilly's platform features the Web-based Learning Object Exchange, where instructors post course material, trade teaching strategies, and share book and syllabi projects. The partnership will dramatically increase the pool of participants in the Learning Object Exchange by opening it up to MERLOT's users. SafariU will also adopt MERLOT's time-tested evaluation system for Learning Object Exchange materials in which both peers and qualified faculty panels evaluate community members' contributions. We welcome our new partner and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.

Two Higher Education partners join MERLOT Consortium

We are happy to welcome Indiana State University and Queens College of the City University of New York to the MERLOT family of partners.  Each new partners brings a wealth of expertise, ideas, and exemplary practices in teaching and learning with academic technology and as a consequence, MERLOT 's services and community are strengthened.     Want to learn how your campus, system, or organization can join the MERLOT consortium?  Check out https://taste.merlot.org/getinvolved.html and choose the right type of participation that's right for your organization.

JOLT – the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching - now available

CALL FOR PAPERS: The new MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT) is a peer-reviewed, online publication addressing the scholarly use of multimedia resources in education. JOLT welcomes papers on all aspects of the use of multimedia educational resources for learning and teaching. A variety of manuscript types are being sought including research papers, theoretical/conceptual papers, position papers, case studies, and instructional design notes. For more information about JOLT and to view the Guidelines for Authors, go to https://jolt.merlot.org/

If you have an article ‘in the making,’ contact Tracy Penny Light or Ed Perry to learn how to publish in JOLT at: tracy@temagami.uwaterloo.ca or eperry@memphis.edu. They also would welcome new reviewers for the Journal.

2005 MERLOT International Conference (MIC05) was a huge success

The 2005 MERLOT International Conference is a memory and as we compile the evaluations of the conference we find comments such as:

“My department will be making considerable effort to dramatically expand our online and hybrid course offerings.”

One of the goals of the MERLOT International Conference is to provide you with information, creative ideas, and helpful resources to increase your productivity and value in your organization.

“The Conference was well-planned and implemented.”

The success of the MERLOT International Conference is achieved through the collaborative efforts of many. The MERLOT team spends several months orchestrating the efforts of the MERLOT Community, the host, the hoteliers, and our many suppliers. MERLOT especially recognizes the unselfish volunteer efforts of the MIC05 host: The Tennessee Board of Regents' (TBR) Chancellor Charles Manning and his staff. Through their efforts MIC05 received generous contributions such as computers from Dell and the University of Memphis, live plants from Tennessee State University, and wines from Chateau Ross and Keg Springs Wineries. The 17 MIC05 corporate sponsors not only provided industry insights on online teaching and learning, but also reduced the cost of partner subsidies.

The thought-provoking and inspiring Plenary Sessions were well rated by conferees, and thanks to Macromedia's generous contribution of software and support staff, you can view those on the Macromedia Breeze host server at https://conference.merlot.org/conference/2005/remote.html. We also encourage you to visit the MERLOT Conference site for authors' session presentations, available for most of the conference sessions.

MIC05 was attended by 455 people from 219 organizations representing 38 states and 6 countries. With an almost 10% attendance increase over MIC04, we continue to enhance the MERLOT vision of being recognized as the premier online community where faculty, staff, and students from around the world share their learning materials and pedagogy. Keep sharing, keep building, and keep producing so that at MIC06 in Toronto we can celebrate another year of success!



Volunteer Corner – Get to know our Volunteers

ESmithDr. Elizabeth Smith (MERLOT Peer Reviewer) teaches Spanish and French at Southwest Virginia Community College as the only full-time foreign language faculty member on her campus. Adding to the many college duties, she has been a prolific peer reviewer of Spanish online learning materials in the World Languages collection of MERLOT. Her work is quite significant in a collection that is the largest in the Humanities section. As a volunteer peer reviewer for 2004-2005, Smith is without a doubt one of World Language’s most productive reviewers for MERLOT.

Her exceptional attention to the potential effectiveness of the materials she views includes her interaction with her students who give her feedback on the impact of web site on their learning and actually includes the learners’ voices in her peer reviews. They use the materials to make substantive comments that enhance the peer reviews. In her direct inclusion of the learner in her review process, Dr. Smith’s approach is particularly noteworthy.

Dr. Smith also described her involvement with MERLOT at two conference sessions at the recent 2005 Virginia Community College New Horizons Conference. First, she shared her work as a MERLOT peer reviewer in a roundtable session that she organized and chaired on the use of technology in Foreign Languages. She was also an invited speaker concerning the use of learning objects, highlighting one of her French assignments that incorporates online learning materials. With her work Dr. Smith has helped bring MERLOT materials in World Languages to the attention of an ever-growing international audience.

We encourage MERLOT community members to contact Dr. Smith to learn how they might incorporate her practices into their own teaching activities.



NMC Conference at Yale: "New Challenges ... New Ideas"
2005 New England Regional NMC Conference at Yale University October 5-7, 2005. Complete information about the conference, including details on travel and lodging can be found at http://www.nmc.org/events/2005fallregional/. In Fall 2005, the NMC comes to New England for a very special regional event to be held on the campus of Yale University, one of NMC's founding members.

Educause Annual Conference: "Transforming the Academy: Dreams and Reality"
EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. The annual conference is October 18-22, 2005 in Orlando, Florida. For more information visit http://www.educause.edu/conference/annual/2005.

E-Learn 2005 – World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, HealthCare and Higher Education
October 24-28, 2005 at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada. See http://www.aace.org/conf/eLearn/default.htm for more information.

WCET Annual Conference: "E-Learning E-llusions and Triumphs"
The 17th WCET Annual Conference has been relocated to San Francisco, CA. The dates are the same, November 2-5, 2005. The early-bird conference registration rate has been extended to October 7, 2005. Visit https://conference.wcet.info/2005/ for more information.

Georgia Educational Technology Conference 2005
November 9-11, 2005 at the Georgia Internal Convention Center, College Park.
The 18th Annual GaETC Conference will be co-sponsored by the Georgia Educational Technology Consortium and the Georgia Department of Education. The DOE's Technology Leadership Conference (TLC) will be merged into the GaETC Conference, with the leadership sessions becoming a major strand in GaETC 2005.For more information, go to http://www.gaetc.net/1conference05.htm

Current Initiatives and Issues in Distance Learning
November 10, 2005 at the Marriott Waikiki and Interactively Offered Online via Elluminate Live! The conference is sponsored by the University of Hawai`i-Manoa College of Education, Elluminate, Sun Microsystems and the Pan-Pacific Distance Learning Association. Among the presenters will be Dr. Gerry Hanley, Executive Director of MERLOT and Kevin Roebuck, Vice President of Marketing for eLearning and Libraries for the MERLOT partner, Sun Microsystems. Regi

2006 Educause Learning Initiative (ELI, formerly NLII) Annual Meeting: "Advancing Learning: Insights and Innovations"
The ELI meeting will take place January 29–31, 2006 at the Westin Horton Plaza Hotel, San Diego, California. For more information visit http://www.educause.edu/eli061, The meeing will explore the fundamental assumptions about what, where, and how we educate. It will focus on the ways institutions can enhance student learning, going beyond specific examples of innovation, to the processes and practices that enable systemic progress towards more effective learning.

Lilly South Conference on College and University Teaching
February 17-19, 2006 in Greensboro, N.C. For more information visit http://www.uncg.edu/tlc/lillysouth. Lilly Conferences are retreats that combine workshops, discussion sessions, and major addresses, with opportunities for informal discussion about excellence in college and university teaching and learning. Internationally-known scholars join new and experienced faculty members and administrators to discuss topics such as gender differences in learning, incorporating technology into teaching, encouraging critical thinking, using teaching and student portfolios, implementing group learning, and evaluating teaching.

Blackboard Annual Users Conference
Mark your calendars now for February 28 - March 2, 2006 when the Blackboard users conference will take place in San Diego. More details coming soon from Blackboard. at http://blackboard.com

TLT Group Presents On-Line Events
The Teaching, Learning, and Technology Group (http://www.tltgroup.org/) strives to motivate and enable institutions and individuals to improve teaching and learning with technology, while helping them cope with continual change.

TLT Group programs help institutions around the world:

  • Develop a sense of what they'd like to achieve educationally with technology

  • Share resources and ideas to achieve those aims

  • Assure that everyone can participate, regardless of technological background, differences in background, disabilities, and other factors

  • Assess progress, diagnose difficulties, and control costs in educational uses of technology

  • Identify and continue to support the institution's fundamental values and educational goals while embracing new technology options

This fall the TLT Group offers online workshops and webcasts through The TLT Group Online Institute, a service intending to:

  • Help people move from Surviving to Thriving

  • Help people deal more sanely and effectively with the transition from too few/little to too many/much.

  • Advocate, model, and support universal, collaborative, lifelong professional development.




Webmaster image

Dear Webmaster,

I've been to MERLOT a few times and always wonder how it got started. Who are partners with MERLOT and what other projects are you engaged in? Is there any place to find this information?

Wondering Who is Who?

Dear Wondering,

MERLOT was created by the California State University in 1997 to serve the needs of faculty and students across its 23 campuses.  MERLOT grew asa community of individual members, from academia, business, and professional organizations to its current  partners and affiliates who cooperate to continually create, expand, and refine MERLOT in order to transform and improve higher education. For more on MERLOT’s history, see https://taste.merlot.org/consortium/history.htm

You can find more information about members, partnerships and becoming a MERLOT partner, MERLOT technology and a variety of other information in the MERLOT Tasting Room. Once there, you can also view a brief video about MERLOT, read the MERLOT brochure and view a 40 minute Breeze presentation entitled "Sharing Learning Objects: Serving MERLOT to Higher Education."

- MERLOT Webmaster

Dear Webmaster,

I read in your last issue about the Virtual Speakers Bureau and found it very interesting. My problem is that I don't really understand how I can apply virtual teaching in my classroom. Can you explain?

Thank you ,
Seeking Education

Dear Seeking Education,

MERLOT recently reviewed an explanation by World Languages professor Laura Franklin, about her experience with the Virtual Speakers Bureau. I think that her experience may help to answer your question.

"Previously, when I made MERLOT presentations, I spent a long time on the road, traveling from location to location. I’ve been many places since then, still talking about MERLOT, but these days the travel is virtual. With the aid of assorted course management systems, I’ve been doing MERLOT presentations via virtual chat.

"First, a colleague teaching a second language acquisition course at a Washington DC university assigned her graduate students readings in technology-enhanced language learning, including among her resources, an article I had written on MERLOT in the VCCS journal Inquiry. The students then watched the ten-minute orientation video in the MERLOT Tasting Room. At this point, the stage was set for a virtual visit to their class, using a WebCT virtual chat. My role was to engage graduate teaching assistants and Education majors in a conversation about the MERLOT peer review standards as we applied them to World Languages, prior to their applying the standards to un-reviewed language sites. The students had excellent questions about peer review and, more particularly, about potential effectiveness. “How do you really teach with these sites?” they would ask. They also had questions about sustainability and whether or not repositories like MERLOT would be around for future generations. The actual experience of the chat, which is clearly not my main mode of communication, was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I found it took some skill to do the feverish typing and then wait to see the posting, before two or three other queries came firing in.

"The following week, another colleague from a Maryland university heard about the first chat and e-mailed to invite me, virtually of course, to her Second Language Acquisition graduate seminar. Not only did this group have great questions, but one of them sent me her own webquest that she subsequently put into MERLOT. I sent the URL to my World Languages co-editor and we both had encouraging words for the new author. We got to model a new way to use technology in teaching, and the students became aware of MERLOT as an important new resource.

"This kind of session is easy to arrange with Blackboard or WebCT and certainly the same must be true with other course management systems. It is an efficient, low-cost way to expose more users to MERLOT with minimal schedule adjustments. The students were very comfortable in this medium, so much so that I now use virtual chat study sessions with my own French students. As we build our learning community, it makes sense to meet our new members on their turf. And as much as I love to meet face to face, it beats long car rides into the night."

I hope after reading this you have become encouraged to become part of MERLOT’s Virtual Speakers Bureau. Go to https://www.merlot.org/person/VSBDirectory.po and add information about your expertise and willingness to be a guest online expert into your MERLOT Member profile. You too can bring your expertise to the wide world of education and have lots of fun in the process.

- MERLOT Webmaster



MERLOT Discipline Portals are available - Please visit!

contributeboxHave you had a chance to visit your Discipline’s portal yet? Each Editorial Board of MERLOT (Biology, Business, Chemistry, Engineering, Health Sciences, History, Information Technology, Math, Music, Physics, Psychology, Statistics, Teacher Education, Teaching & Technology, and World Languages) now has its own portal within the MERLOT website. The purpose of the portal is to provide each discipline with space within MERLOT to communicate on issues and in the context most relevant for members of its discipline. Macromedia, generously provided the software (Contribute 3) to enable our Editorial Boards to provide discipline-specific information for members within the overall MERLOT site. Our Editorial Boards strive to ensure that the most up-to-date materials in the subject area are provided on the portal pages.

Each portal is organized as follows:

  • Teaching – This area of the portal contains some tips and guidelines to help you with your teaching, such as how to teach online, large sections, using case studies, etc. Also included can be specific modules within MERLOT or new ideas for teaching particular concepts. There may also be links to other areas of MERLOT, i.e. Teaching with Technology, as well as links to articles about Teaching.
  • People – Find out whether or not you already know some people involved with MERLOT. This section of the portal provides information about the People involved in leading the MERLOT discipline community as members of the Editorial Board and Peer Reviewers.
  • Beyond MERLOT – As an instructor, you need resources from professional associations, journals and other digital libraries outside of MERLOT to be successful in the classroom. The Beyond MERLOT section organizes this breadth of resources within your discipline  to help you keep you up-to-date in your subject area quickly, easily, and effectively   Feel free to let our editorial boards know about “Beyond MERLOT” resources that you’ve found useful.
  • Learning Materials – Find out how all the online materials are organized in MERLOT and learn about the different types of materials you can find in MERLOT, such as animations, simulations, tutorials, etc.  The information in this section should help you understand what’s in the MERLOT collection so you can best use MERLOT to meet your needs. 
  • Showcase – Here you will find an online resource, project or person that the MRELOT Editorial Boards want to feature as exemplary within their discipline. The resource could be a MERLOT Classic Award winner, a member of the MERLOT community who has an outstanding accomplishment, or an invitation to participate in an important project for that discipline.

You can find the MERLOT Portals by clicking on the Communities tab on the navigation bar on MERLOT’s homepage. A list of the portals is provided and by accessing each one, you can see what is going on within that discipline. Information in the portals change on a regular basis, so be sure to visit the portal in your discipline every few weeks.  Each portal has a “New Materials” button which shows you the newest peer reviewed materials and newest added materials within your discipline on a daily basis. If you have content to be added to the portal, please contact the Editor of that discipline, or cswift@georgiasouthern.edu

And remember, from each portal you can do the same thing you do from the MERLOT homepage - Browse Materials, Contribute Materials, use the Member Directory to find people who are members, Search Materials (advanced and federated), and even contact the MERLOT webmaster. Have fun exploring the portal in your subject area and let us know what you think!


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