The Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) project is a successful and growing international cooperative of quality multimedia learning materials for higher education. 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."
MERLOT's focus extends beyond a simple gateway, or repository of multimedia learning materials. MERLOT links and organizes a high quality collection of pedagogically sound resources delivered in the context of an "online community." In this context, MERLOT's members are not merely passive users, but are invited to be full participants as scholarly contributors, researchers and peer evaluators. In addition, the project assures a high level of integrity through administrative support and sponsorship by distinguished higher education institutional partners, consortia and professional organizations that have helped fund and support this ambitious initiative.
MERLOT leads users to over 8,500 Web-based digital learning materials, which are available from Web sites around the world. This site serves as a sophisticated clearinghouse of selected materials as managed by MERLOT's discipline-based editorial boards.
Materials are organized into "discipline communities" such as Biology, Business, History, Information Technology, Mathematics, Music, Teacher Education, and World Languages. In addition to URL and author/developer information, each resource may contain a peer review, user comments, starred ratings, links to related classroom/lab assignments, screen shots, and a descriptive abstract. Material types include simulations, animation, drill and practice, lecture presentations, tutorials, and other formats. Searching across discipline communities is also effective as librarians who search for "information literacy" resources will discover over 60 relevant offerings gathered from a variety of discipline communities.
Anyone is free to search MERLOT and take advantage of its collected resources without registering for membership. Simple and advanced searching, subject browsing and result ranking are provided. These tools are available to visitors and members alike and allow an effective range of desired search specificity. However, only members may contribute resources for peer review, post comments, and offer related assignments. Members may also take advantage of the ability to create "personal collections," develop course "ePortfolios" and search an online directory of member profiles for professional networking opportunities.
A sip of this vintage MERLOT offers a robust, heady, yet full-bodied resource where educators and students are likely to uncover gems for immediate use in the classroom or, perhaps, rediscover favorite sites and materials enriched with commentary and linked to useful assignment ideas.
Mark A. Smith
New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University