Issue No. 33, Winter 2015

news features tech stuff upcoming events the numbers



Emerging Technologies for Online Learning 2015 Conference

The Online Learning Consortium/MERLOT Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium will be held on April 22-24 at the Sheraton Downtown Hotel in Dallas, Texas. MERLOT related presentations and presentations by MERLOT leadership abound in the list of offerings at the conference:

Wednesday, April 22 -

  • From Basics to New Features to Where We’re Going:  All Within the Community
    • Barb Sperling, Sorel Reisman
    • Lone Star A2 (210 minutes)
    • 8:30 a.m.
  • Textbook Affordability Programs that Work:  Ready, Set, G-OER
    • Gerry Hanley
    • Lone Star C1 (90 minutes)
    • 8:30 a.m.
  • Adapting to a Changing World of OER
    • Eli Schmueli (MEITAL), Barb Sperling, Sorel Reisman
    • Houston C
    • 1 p.m. (50 minutes)
  • Improving Student Success Through Course Redesign and Implementing a Scalable Solution for Enrollment Bottlenecks
    • Gerry Hanley
    • Houston A
    • 2 p.m. (50 minutes)
  • eTeaching Highlights Board:  One Online Instructor’s Digital Performance Statistics
    • Catherine Honig (Psychology Editor)
    • Lone Star Preconvene Discovery Session
    • 3 pm (60 minutes)

Thursday, April 23 -

  • FyEE (Free Your Educational Experience:  How to Use Technology Well…and Not…with Freshmen
    • Sherri Restauri (Psychology Board)
    • Stateroom 3
    • 9:30 a.m. (50 minutes)
  • Poll It, Skitch It and Chomp It?
    • Robin Blackman (Teacher Education Board)
    • Technology Test Kitchen, Lone Star Preconvene
    • 9:40 a.m.
  • MERLOT:  Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going.  What Do You Think?
    • Barb Sperling, Jason Stanton, Sorel Reisman
    • Houston B
    • 11:10 a.m. (50 minutes)
  • Improving Accessibility:  Guidance, Tools, Resources in an Open Community
    • Gerry Hanley
    • Stateroom 2
    • 11:10 a.m. (50 minutes)
  • Awards Luncheon - 12 noon, Ballroom
  • Create, Educate, Brainstorm:  Conquering the Collaboration Conundrum
    • Jane Moore and the Teacher Education Board
    • Houston C
    • 2:30 pm. (50 minutes)
  • Vineyard Apprentices:  MERLOT and Teacher Education in the Cal State System
    • Cris Guenter (Teacher Education Board)
    • Lone Star Preconvene Discovery Session
    • 4:30 p.m. (60 minutes)
  • Become a MERLOT Peer Reviewer:  Explore, Grow, Be Rewarded
    • Jane Moore, Cathy Swift, Catherine Honig (Psychology Editor), Angela Gunder (Teacher Education Board), Sherri Restauri (Psychology Board)
    • Lone Star Preconvene Discovery Session
    • 4:30 p.m. (60 minutes)
  • FLEXspace:  An Open Community and Library of Learning Space Designs and its Quality Assurance Strategies
    • Gerry Hanley
    • Lone Star Preconvene Discovery Session
    • 4:30 p.m. (60 minutes)
  • Managing Teaching Time in the Online Classroom:  Better Instruction, Less Stress
    • Jean Mandernach (Psychology Board)
    • Lone Star Preconvene Discovery Session
    • 4:30 p.m. (60 minutes)

Friday, April 24 -

  • Enhancing Instruction Quality Via Data Analytics
    • Jean Mandernach (Psychology Board)
    • Lone Star C4
    • 9:25 a.m. (50 minutes)
  • Visual Literacy for Learning Apps
    • Cris Guenter (Teacher Education Board)
    • Technology Test Kitchen, Lone Star Preconvene
    • 10:40 a.m.

The Technology Test Kitchen is unique from other program tracks at the #et4online this year. The expectation for "test kitchen" is to create a space at the conference for hands-on, focused, and practical applications of emerging technologies. The Test Kitchen station will feature expert "chefs" who will guide attendees, showcasing applications and tools for innovative, digital education. The Technology Test Kitchen space will be similar to a learning lab, where conference participants will take advantage of the "bring your own device" (BYOD) format.

The deadline for early registration is February 25th. MERLOT Partners and reviewers can obtain the MERLOT Partner registration code by contacting your project director, editor or Jane Moore ( Virtual attendance is also a possibility if you are unable to travel.

Check out registration options at:


MERLOT Peer Reviewer Extraordinaire 2014-2015

Eleven MERLOT reviewers have earned their registration to the ET4OL conference by completing a minimum of 15 reviews since April 1, 2014. Reviewers receive recognition at the MERLOT Leadership meeting and at the Awards Luncheon, both on April 23 at the Dallas Conference. Congratulations to: Marty Zahn (Biology), Cathy Swift (Business), Renee Aitken (Faculty Development), Jeanne Sewell (Health Sciences), Art Finkle (History), Victoria Packard (Library), Sergey Belyi and Larry Green (Mathematics), Catherine Honig (Psychology), Jane Moore and Bruce Bennett (Teacher Education).  The deadline for completion is March 31st, so there are more Peer Reviewers Extraordinaire to come!


California Open Online Library for Education (COOL4ED):
Leveraging MERLOT’s Services to Make Higher Education More Affordable

On January 1, 2013, California legislation was enacted which directed the California Community Colleges (CCC), the California State University (CSU), the University of California (UC), and the Intersegmental Council of Academic Senates (ICAS) to establish the California Open Education Resource Council through Senate Bill (SB) 1052 and directed the CSU to establish the California Digital Open Source Library (CDOSL) through SB 1053. The bills established the goal of making higher education in California more affordable by providing faculty and students access to free and lower-cost instructional materials.

In the two years since the legislation was enacted, the California State University, Office of the Chancellor was awarded grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which provided the private funds to release the state matching funds for this project.  The California Open Education Resources Council (CA OER Council) was established and consists of three faculty representatives from each of the three California higher segments (CCCs, CSUs and UCs).  The near-term responsibilities of the CA OER Council include:

  • Selecting up to 50 lower division courses in the public postsecondary segments to target for the development and acquisition of digital, open source textbooks and materials.
  • Creating and administering a standardized, rigorous review and approval process for open source textbooks and related materials.
  • Promoting strategies for production, access, and use of open source materials.
  • Regularly soliciting and considering input from each segment's respective statewide student associations.

The CSU, the leader and administrator of MERLOT, has created the California Open Online Library for Education ( which is built upon MERLOT’s extensive collection of over 3,500 free and open etextbooks and other open educational services.   The COOL4Ed website showcases:

  • Faculty adoption of free and open etextbooks with ePortfolios created with MERLOT Content Builder.  
  • Common courses across the 3 California systems with recommended free and open etextbooks created with the use of MERLOT’s Course ePortfolio tool.
  • Faculty reviews of the qualities of the free and open textbooks that are posted within MERLOT’s “Rate this Material” tool

COOL4ed is open to everyone anytime so feel free to use these tools and resources to make higher education more affordable for your students.

American Kinesiology Association and MERLOT

The multidisciplinary nature of kinesiology provides a range of challenges and opportunities for faculty teaching kinesiology to put educational innovations into practices. Many types of technologies can empower both faculty and students to use multimedia delivered reliably,
affordably, and flexibly to achieve the learning outcomes required for a quality education in kinesiology. Together, MERLOT and the AKA can excite people’s curiosity by asking the questions, “How can you use technology in your classroom
quickly, easily, and successfully? Did you know that there are free, quality, online instructional materials, online course curriculum, and free e-textbooks available
for you to use right now?” Faculty can go to the MERLOT website and find free educational resources including:

Video on The Muscular System: Types of Muscle Contractions
Online tutorials on clinical assessment of injuries
Online atlas of human muscles

MERLOT and the AKA are working together to develop a Kinesiology collection in MERLOT. If you would like to be part of this process, contact Jane Moore



line features

Update on the MERLOT Community

Editorial Board Changes

Ginger Rowell, from Middle Tennessee State University is the new editor for Statistics.  Ginger is assuming her duties this month.  She is a professor of Mathematical Sciences at MTSU. She was the recipient of the American Statistical Association’s Waller Education Award and taught math and computer science in the Alabama secondary school system before pursuing her Ph.D. in mathematics.


Peer Reviewer Incentives

In an effort to build the collection of Peer Reviews in MERLOT, we have offered a $50 gift card to a reviewer each month during the year.

Congratulations to Renee Aitken, Wright State University from the Faculty Development editorial board who received the January award and Elaine Lawrence, SUNY Oneonta from the Teacher Education editorial board who won the December award. Both chose Amazon gift cards. Each month a name will be drawn from the reviewers who complete individual and composite reviews that month.


GRAPE Camp 2015

To become a Peer Reviewer for MERLOT, individuals must be an instructor in an institution of higher education and have:

  • Expertise in the scholarship of their field
  • Excellence in teaching
  • Experience in using technology in teaching and learning, and
  • Connections to professional organizations in their discipline.

MERLOT has developed training for Peer Reviewers to ensure that they become familiar with MERLOT's Peer Review processes. MERLOT Management conducts GRAPE Camp (Getting Reviewers Accustomed to the Process of Evaluation) to train Peer Reviewers on a regular basis. GRAPE Camp consists of a series of three one-hour workshops online, one per week. In these webinars, participants will:

  • Develop an understanding of MERLOT
  • Learn how MERLOT evaluates Learning Materials
  • Conduct a group review
  • Complete an Individual Review
  • Learn how to use the Workspace tool, and
  • Introduce participants to the Editorial Board of their disciplines.

The webinars include people from a variety of disciplines and is archived so participants can review the material as needed. For information about GRAPE Camp, contact Cathy Swift.

GRAPE Camps are scheduled for 2014 in:

    • March - Tuesdays (3, 10,17) at 5 PM Eastern/2 PM Pacific
    • April - Wednesdays (1, 8, 15) at 11 AM Eastern/ 8 AM Pacific
    • May - Wednesdays (7, 14, 21) at 5 PM Eastern/2 PM Pacific

To register for any one of these sessions or to sign up for asynchronous sessions, please complete the short form:

If these times don't work for you, you can also participate asynchronously by completing the questionnaire above and indicating that you want to do it asynchronously.  You can also participate in the discussions about GRAPE Camp in MERLOT Voices.



tech update

What's new in MERLOT Technology?

MERLOT is excited to tell you about the new features we’ve added to the website!

One of our biggest changes in MERLOT is the ability to create Bookmark Collections, previously known as Personal Collections. We have made significant changes to provide a simple and easy way to bookmark learning materials you find in MERLOT.  Bookmark Collections allow you to put a group of materials in one place and add notes about each one. 
After you search MERLOT, from the results list, each material has a link to add to “Bookmark this material.”  When clicked, you have the option to create a new collection or add the material(s) to an existing Bookmark Collection. 

bookmark collection

After you add materials to your Bookmark Collection, you can reorder the items, add notes or even external links to the collection.  You can also share the collection with others by giving them the unique URL for each Bookmark Collection you create.  For more information on creating Bookmark Collections, go to



You can also now create Course ePortfolios in MERLOT.  Course ePortfolios are used to document the planning, process, and outcomes of a single course. Course ePortfolios are an extension of Bookmark Collections.  So, once you identify all your resources for a course in a Bookmark Collection, you can turn that collection into a Course ePortfolio and describe the course with additional information.  Add a description of the course, list prerequisites, pedagogical approaches, learning outcomes, and assessment information, along with the materials you added from your Bookmark Collection. It is a way to have all that information in one place, with a unique URL that you can share with students and colleagues. For more information about Course ePortfolios and how to create them, go to

course eport


In addition to these new features, we have updated the Learning Exercise wizard to make it easier to create.  We have also updated our translation tool and are now using Google Translate, to provide better service to our users.  With Google Translate, if a user’s browser is set to a language other than English, they will be prompted to view MERLOT in their preferred language. We hope this will allow more users to benefit from MERLOT.

Lastly, if you are contributing ESL or EFL materials to MERLOT or searching for such materials, you can include CEFR levels or ACTFL Standards as metadata. CEFR refers to the rating system for language levels in the EU. ACTFL is the American set of standards for language learning.


Social Networking and MERLOT

We have many ways for you to stay connected with MERLOT and all the wonderful things happening with the website and our initiatives. We’ve recently expanded our social media presence and have even begun advertising through social media outlets. Read postings about OERs, MOOC’s, initiatives and much more at the MERLOT Blog.  The MERLOT Voices network has dozens of community conversations focusing on textbook affordability, OER, nursing, faculty development, just to name a few.  We have also increased our presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, including a special LinkedIn Group Page that we invite you to join and network with other MERLOT users.

Announcements of new initiatives and features on the MERLOT website, important announcements of upcoming events and deadlines, and news and articles from the MERLOT team and around the web on OER and educational technology are all shared on these sites.  To be sure you stay informed, follow us and share us with your colleagues! 

Facebook Twitter Linked In



Upcoming Events

Open Education Week 2015

March 9-13, 2015

Open Education Week is coordinated by the The Open Education Consortium, an association of hundreds of institutions and organizations around the world that are committed to the ideals of open education. Universities, colleges, schools and organizations from all over the world have come together to showcase what they’re doing to make education more open, free, and available to everyone.


AAEEBL Western Conference (Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence Based Learning)

The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL)is sponsoring a regional conference in Long Beach, California, Apr 8-9, 2015. The theme of this regional conference is: Harnessing the Power of the ePortfolio: Transformative Practices in Pedagogy and Assessment.

For more information go to:


Online Learning Consortium Blended Learning Conference and Workshop

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The Online Learning Consortium Blended Learning Conference and Workshop will be held July 7-8, 2015 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown hotel.  You can get more information about the conference at


International Conference on Technology in Higher Education

Save the Date - June 14-17, 2015!!
The 2015 International Conference on Technology in Higher Education, sponsored by The Global Forum in collaboration with the Hassan II University in Casablanca, Morocco is scheduled for June 14-17, 2015in the city of Marrakech, Morocco. This international gathering brings together higher education faculty and administrators to discuss issues pertaining to the role of technology in teaching and learning.

For additional information, including the Call for Papers, please visit


Quality Matters Conference

Submit your proposals by the new extended date, Friday, May 8th for the 7th Annual QM Conference on Quality Assurance in Online Learning being held at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter. For more information, go to




The Numbers

Who Uses MERLOT?

Here is what is in the MERLOT Collection as of February 15, 2015:


# items in Collection


# of materials w/a Peer Review


# of materials w/an Editor’s Review


# of materials w/a Comment/Discussion


# of materials  w/a Learning Exercise


# of registered users

How many searches were done using our web services in 2014?
- Basic Searches: 171,176
- Advanced Searches: 170,000

How many people visited MERLOT in 2014? 527,479

How many MERLOT pages were viewed in 2014? 4,821,913

The top 10 countries that visited MERLOT in 2014:

1. United States

2. Philippines

3. Chile

4. Canada

5. India

6. United Kingdom

7. Australia

8. Mexico

9. Israel

10. Brazil



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