Advantages of Open Educational Resources through MERLOT (and Why that Google Search Is Wasting Time)

Concurrent Session 10

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Presentation Abstract: Selected open educational resources (OER) from MERLOT’s digital resource collections highlight tools, media, and e-resources that positively impact teaching and learning. 


Catherine Honig, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Chair, MBA Program in National Louis University's College of Professional Studies and Advancement (CPSA). She earned her doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology from Bowling Green State University and has over 25 years of higher education teaching experience. She currently designs and teaches online courses in leadership and I/O psychology, and her research interests place emphasis on high-touch online instruction, student perceptions of online and blended learning, and the impact of EdTech tools on student learning and engagement in online courses. Catherine also serves as the Editor of MERLOT's Psychology Editorial Board.
Julie Evey, Ph.D., taught full time at the University of Southern Indiana for 17 years in the Department of Psychology. During that time she held multiple administrative roles including Chair of Psychology and Assistant Dean of Liberal Arts. She began teaching online in 2006 and has been affiliated with Merlot since 2002. She continues to teach online courses for the University of Southern Indiana, but left her full time position in 2015 to pursue other interests. She earned her Ph.D. from Kent State University in Cognitive Psychology with a specialty in children's language development.
B. Jean Mandernach, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching at Grand Canyon University. Her research focuses on enhancing student learning in the online classroom through innovative instructional and assessment strategies. In addition, she has interests in the development of effective faculty evaluation models, perception of online degrees, and faculty workload considerations. Jean received her B.S. in comprehensive psychology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, an M.S. in experimental psychology from Western Illinois University and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
Sherri currently serves as the Senior Executive Director of the Office of Digital and Online Learning at Coastal Carolina University. She is an Associated Faculty with the Psychology Department at CCU, and specializes in teaching senior-level classes in lifespan psychology, such as Child Development, Adolescent Development, and Gerontology. Sherri has served in academia within the field of online learning for over 20 years in the role of instructional designer, LMS administrator, faculty, and over the last decade plus as a university-level administrator. In addition to her work with Coastal, Sherri also serves the MERLOT organization as the Editor of the Professional Coaching board, as well as an editorial board member and peer reviewer for the Psychology MERLOT board. Her research focuses on methods for improving student success in the academic environment, to include all modalities of learning (online, face-to-face, hybrid, flipped, etc.) and inclusive design and tools. She has worked as a consultant for a number of organizations to support the development of online learning initiatives.

Extended Abstract

Presentation Description:

The use of open educational resources (OER) in course design and teaching answers numerous faculty needs, including the problem of soaring textbook costs. Open online texts, open online courses, and various media and e-resources promote affordability and access for students who might otherwise elect to forgo required course resources or who might forgo a course altogether if the cost of learning materials is too high. At the same time, OER can offer faculty considerable flexibility in shaping courses and curricula while still ensuring adherence to key course outcomes.

Nonetheless, while OER may have achieved a level of prominence in academic debate and discussion, OER has not yet achieved mainstream status in college courses. Going Digital: Faculty Perspectives on Digital and OER Course Materials--a widely cited report summarizing the results of a 2016 Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA)-sponsored survey of “2,902 college and university faculty at 29 two- and four-year colleges and universities”—points to lingering questions about the degree to which digital learning resources positively impact student learning. Moreover, the data reveal that many faculty may not be well acquainted with OER although considerations related to quality and ease of access would be likely drivers of broader-scale adoption.

These findings speak to the value of more in-depth discovery (and sharing) about how the use of OER impacts the course experience for both faculty and students. To that end, this presentation will describe how MERLOT’s digital OER collections can inform teaching and learning across the disciplines. OER materials are submitted to MERLOT on an ongoing basis and take a wide variety of forms—including open texts, animations and simulations, collections, assessment tools, apps, and many other formats of resources. Offering an alternative to sifting through open Internet searches, many MERLOT resources are associated with peer reviews that address quality of content, potential effectiveness as a teaching tool, possible uses in the classroom, and even ease of instructional application.  

Via the identification of selected learning materials from the MERLOT OER collections, the presenters will illustrate the application of OER for the enhancement of course design and pedagogy. Each resource will be demonstrated and/or surfed during the course of the presentation, and the presentation of each resource will address current issues in the area of OER: quality of materials, ease of access, impact on the student experience, and impact on faculty’s ability to effectively support course learning outcomes.

The presentation format will be interactive as the demonstration of e-resources lends itself to audience engagement, and will encourage participants to share their own experiences or perspectives on the benefits vs. challenges of working with OER.


  • With MERLOT as the OER context, participants will identify benefits vs. barriers in classroom applications of OER.
  • Participants will learn about and discuss specific digital learning and teaching resources from MERLOT across multiple disciplines.
  • The presenters will share resource documents that incorporate links for all presented resources.


Green, K. (2016, February). Going digital: faculty perspectives on digital and OER course materials. Retrieved from