Putting Innovations into Practice for Education

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The Grapevine

Issue #6 - Spring 2006






MERLOT International Conference - 2006 Announcement

MERLOT announces the 2006 MERLOT International Conference, “Working With and Learning from the World’s Best.” This year’s meeting (MIC06) will be held in Ottawa, Canada, August 8-11, and is hosted by the Co-operative Learning Object Exchange (CLOE) and the University of Ottawa.

The six MIC06 Conference tracks are devoted to faculty development in the design, creation, utilization, and evaluation of online teaching and learning materials.  Complete conference details, including information about the six thematic tracks, can be found at: https://conference.merlot.org/2006/ or via e-mail inquiries to: merlotconference@merlot.org.

General Sessions Announced

Diana Laurillard will open the MERLOT International Conference on Wednesday, August 9 at 8:00AM, “Working with and learning from pedagogical expertise”  Faculty who want to re-use shared digital resources for innovative learning and teaching often work in environments with limited pedagogical support. They need practical assistance to understand how best to use such resources, given the 1) intended outcomes, i.e., the curriculum skills, knowledge, and expected progression; 2) student body, i.e., learners’ needs, prior experience, expectations, skills and competencies; and 3) learning environment, i.e., human, physical and digital resources, tools and services. MERLOT Peer Reviews have been a key source of pedagogical knowledge supporting re-use of shared digital resources.  The MERLOT community is now exploring how best to enhance the space of pedagogical expertise for instructors to complement resources for learners. This session will look at ways of bridging the gap between a technical learning design specification and the reality of the teaching context.

Dr. Melvyn A Goodale will speak on Thursday, August 10 at 8:00 AM, “Visual Routes to Knowledge and Action”  Why do we need vision?  As it turns out, there are two answers to this question.  On the one hand, we need vision to give us detailed knowledge of the world beyond ourselves – knowledge that allows us to recognize things from minute to minute and day to day.  On the other hand, we need vision to guide our actions at the very moment they occur.  These are two different demands placed on us, and nature seems to have given us two different visual systems to carry them out.

Project 2061 Digital Library Work Draws Accolades


The MERLOT Teacher Education Review recently reviewed the Harvard-Smithsonian Digital Video Library (HSDV), on the 2061 Connections Website and an education review panel has given the Website, co-developed by Project 2061, an impressive 4.9 out of 5, overall rating. The HSDVL is the result of a collaboration between Project 2061 and the Science Media Group of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

MERLOT awarded the high rating, applauding the site for providing access to more than 1,000 videos that can be identified by the AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy, the Atlas of Science Literacy, National Science Education Standards, and/or all state standards. MERLOT noted that the [site] user can be confident that the materials represents the current state of our knowledge about teaching and learning based online education research.

The HSDVL site has also drawn accolades in the International Communications Film and Video Competition, receiving the silver plaque—the highest awarded for an educational Web site—at INTERCOM 2005.  Visit: http://www.project2061.org/publications/2061Connections/default.htm.

JOLT – the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching - Volume 2, Number 1 Now Available

The 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 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 welcome new reviewers for the Journal.

MERLOT Announces the Grape Vignette
From time to time MERLOT wishes to notify registered members about important news or events that relate directly to our mission.  Although our Privacy Policy (https://taste.merlot.org/policies/privacy.htm)  allows us to send mass mailings to our members, we have historically limited such mailings to an occasional annual notice about the MERLOT International Conference.

In order to provide our membership with new services, we have created the MERLOT Grape Vignette that we will occasionally and infrequently use to inform members of urgent or useful information that we think is important to our communicty.  A Grape Vignette will be a brief, text-only email containing no more than two items of news information.

The first Grape Vignette will be sent to all registered members of MERLOT.  Anyone receiving a Grape Vignette will be able to unsubscribe from this particular service through text that will appear in each Grape Vignette.

MERLOT Webcast Project
On March 15 and March 30, Ray Purdom (Director, University Teaching and Learning Center) and John Prusch (SUNY Learning Networks), both from the MERLOT Teaching and Technology Editorial Board, participated in a joint TLT Group/MERLOT joint project.  They presented a free webcast that explained many of MERLOT services.  This webcase has been archived and is an excellent opportunity for people on your campus and elsewhere to find out about MERLOT.

TLT/MERLOT Webcast Workshops

MERLOT and TLT will sponsor 3 workshops on April 5, 12, and 17, for faculty, faculty development professionals, instructional designers, technologists, and directors and staff at teaching and learning centers to explore how to:

  • Become a MERLOT member (membership is free)
  • Move beyond browsing MERLOT resources to explore how MERLOT supports community-building within disciplines.
  • Contribute Materials – MERLOT disseminates instructional resources and confers professional recognition through peer review.
  • Create Personal Collections - individualized and annotated listings of online instructional resources.
  • Employ Personal Collections to identify other MERLOT members who share specific interests.
  • Use the Member Directory to contact and invite potential collaborators to join in collaborative activities. 

The price for the three workshops is $160 for TLT group subscribers, $175 for MERLOT Partners, and $250 for the general public.  Registration includes all three sessions, access to all resources and the discussion forum. For questions or comments, contact Joanna Beiter at beiter@tltgroup.org.  Please encourage your teaching centers to invite faculty and faculty  support staff to these workshops.  For this, and any other TLT Group on-line event, MERLOT members are automatically entitled to a substantial discount (the Co-Sponsor’s rate)

Searching MERLOT from within Blackboard and WebCT

Blackboard’s MERLOT Building Block which is currently available to Blackboard customers, and WebCT’s in-development MERLOT PowerLink provide instructors who use those company’s products with direct search access to the MERLOT repository.  Information about the Blackboard Building Block can be found on the company's homepage at Blackboard.  Information about the WebCT PowerLink will be available later this summer.

Blackboard and WebCT, leading providers of enterprise software and services to the education industry, and partners in the MERLOT LMS initiative, have completed their previously announced merger. The combination of Blackboard and WebCT establishes one of the most innovative global software companies serving the education industry. Currently, more than 3,700 world-wide higher education, K-12, corporate, government and commercial academic institutions enhance their learning environments with solutions offered by the two organizations. As part of the merger, both companies' product lines will remain intact and supported.  Over time, Blackboard will incorporate the best features and usability characteristics from the two product lines into a new standards-based product set.

Searching MERLOT and more within ANGEL

You now have advance searching capabilities into MERLOT directly from within ANGEL.  ANGEL Learning Object Repository (LOR) enables storage, tagging, searching, sharing, reuse, and management of learning objects in a highly scalable, efficient manner.  Visit http://www.angellearning.com/products/lms/lor/ for information on ANGEL's integrated MERLOT search capability.

ANGEL Learning, developer of ANGEL LMS 7 has announced that the Bedford, Freeman & Worth Publishing Group, a confederation of three publishing houses, has partnered with ANGEL Learning.  ANGEL is a MERLOT partner and participant in the  MERLOT LMS initiative.

The Group has developed an innovative vision for teaching and learning that requires a robust eLearning platform offered by a technology partner with an established record of innovation and customer collaboration. “Our challenge in selecting an e-learning platform was to also align with a partner that will work with us to accomplish our vision for publications marketing technology in newly creative ways.  We found that partner in ANGEL Learning,” said Reid Sherline, vice president, electronic media and publishing, Bedford, Freeman & Worth Publishing Group, LLC.  “ANGEL Learning offers an exceptional eLearning platform in ANGEL LMS 7 and shares our understanding of the potential of electronic media services.”




Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) Group Presents On-Line Workshop - Class Size Issues:  Hybrid and On-line Courses

Class size is a key component of such things as course design, delivery cost, learning effectiveness, faculty and student satisfaction. As institutions increase class sizes in online, faculty often struggle with how to ensure that all the learners are meaningfully engaged. In this three-session online workshop, April 6, 13, & 20, 2006 at 3:00 PM EDT, TLT will engage participants in discussions about increasing enrollments in hybrid and online courses. TLT will provide participants with helpful resources and will host an asynchronous discussion board during the three-week period.

TLT Group’s online offerings include use of “low threshold” tools, examination of controversial issues, participants with a range of experience, and suggestions for assessment as you integrate what you’ve learned into your repertoire. To register for the workshop or for more information, go to http://www.tltgroup.org/Registration/Registration/DDClassSizeReg.htm.

Angel Learning Users Conference: Unbridled Learning
Join fellow ANGEL users June 6-7, 2006 for networking, collaboration, Kentucky-style unbridled learning, and fun at the ANGEL User Conference 2006 in Louisville, Kentucky.  Conference co-hosts, Jefferson County Public Schools, Kentucky Virtual University, and ANGEL Learning.  For more information, go to http://www.jefferson.k12.ky.us/angel/.  ANGEL is a MERLOT LMS Initiative partner.

WebCT !MPACT 2006 Users Conference

Share your knowledge of WebCT and e-learning at !MPACT 2006—the 8th annual WebCT User Conference in Chicago, Illinois on July 10-14!  More than 1,000 educators, course designers, and system administrators from across the globe will come together to learn from each other and share their e-learning expertise. Choose from hundreds of user-led and WebCT sessions, panels, roundtables, and posters—all of which reflect the challenges and concerns that we face on our campuses today. Visit http://www.webct.com/2006.  WebCT is a MERLOT LMS Initiative partner.

Desire2Learn UC06 Expanding Horizons

d2lpictDesire2Learn educators, course designers, technical and system administrators from all over the world will share their knowledge about online teaching and learning at the 3rd Annual Desire2Learn Users Conference, July 31st – August 2nd at the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ontario.   Registration opens March 27th, 2006.   Complete conference details, including further information about the user led program, keynote speakers can be found at: www.Desire2Learn.com/UC06 or via inquires to: UC06@Desire2Learn.com.  Desire2Learn is a MERLOT LMS Initiative partner.



Webmaster image

Dear Webmaster,

I undertand that materials on the MERLOT site are "peer reviewed."  What exactly does that mean, and how can I become a peer reviewer for MERLOT?


Preview to Review

Dear Preview,

Peer Review, in the academic world means that the quality of your scholarly work has been evaluated by one or more of your peers.  For journal publication purposes, a peer reviewer is someone who has expertise in the subject matter of your paper.  For teaching purposes, a peer reviewer may be somebody who teaches at your level in the university and observes you in the classroom. 

At MERLOT, a peer reviewer evaluates scholarly contributions in teaching. We have two levels of review; a "triage" is done by the MERLOT Editor or Editorial Board of your discipline to determine which modules they believe should have priority in a more complete review; the module is then sent to at least two peer reviewers, usually instructors, who teach in the discipline areas of the module.  These peer reviewers do individual reviews of the module.  Their reviews are consolidated into one review by other members of the MERLOT editorial board.  

MERLOT Academic Partners designate accomplished faculty to participate as Editorial Board Members in 15 different disciplines.  These people  are responsible for the review process and for overseeing the quality of the collection of materials.  Since we now have so many modules in the MERLOT collection, we have invited Ad Hoc Reviewers (formerly called Volunteer Peer Reviewers) to participate as peer reviewers.  Being an Ad Hoc Reviewer has many benefits:

  • Making a contribution to digital scholarship
  • Ability to actively participate in a MERLOT community
  • Participating in professional development
  • Learning to see what others are creating
  • Improving your own teaching
  • Recognition among your peers

Ad Hoc Reviewers must be instructors at institutions of higher learning.  If you are interested in becoming an Ad Hoc Reviewer, contact Cathy Swift.     

- MERLOT Webmaster





Are you an author of a MERLOT Material?  Create a From the Author Snapshot!

 From the Author Snapshots (Snapshots) enable authors of learning materials to publish a short reflection on their development and use of their learning materials. From the Author Snapshots is a joint project with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and was created using software called the “KEEP Toolkit.” In a Snapshot, authors reflect on and share their scholarship of teaching with technology.  If you have authored material and posted it to MERLOT, we encourage you to complete a Snapshot to help others understand your thoughts and ideas about teaching with technology.  You can find directions for completing a Snapshot at https://www.merlot.org/help/HelpAuthorComments.po


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