Accelerating Online Learning Worldwide with MERLOT

Concurrent Session 7

Brief Abstract

MERLOT, going into its 21st year, started out small.  Our goal all along is to accelerate online learning .  Over the years, MERLOT has expanded to include many international aspects to allow users all over the world to access and benefit from the site. 

Presenters

Barbra has been with MERLOT for over 20 years serving as a consultant, webmaster and for the past 12 years, Manager of Technical Services.

Extended Abstract

MERLOT, going into its 21st year, started out small.  Our goal from the start was to accelerate online learning.  As MERLOT has expanded over the years, with 4 different developments, we have included many international aspects, allowing users all over the world to access and benefit from the site.

In the beginning, MERLOT recruited partner institutions that had a primary focus of peer reviewing online materials.  As the MERLOT material collection grew, membership grew outside, most significantly outside the US.  It was at this time, we learned that in order to be used internationally, MERLOT would have to redesign its database.  We partners with institutions in internationally to define our requirements.  This led to developing web services to allow anyone with a website to tap into MERLOT search. 

As with all design elements, one thing led to another.  Today MERLOT not only has a series of web services that can be used with a variety of LMS’s, but we also use Google Translate.  Allowing users the ability to translate MERLOT into their native language has increased our membership, but more importantly, our usage.  We reach almost a million users a year to access open education resources. 

We learned after deciding on Google Translate for our website that in China, where MERLOT has a significant number of users, they couldn’t get to our site.  Everything Google is blocked there.  That prompted our development team to work with an IT department at a University in China to solve the problem to allow access.

This presentation will include examples of the international aspects of MERLOT, what we learned along the way and how that trial and error can help others.  MERLOT continues to be one of the leading sites for open education resources, accelerating learning worldwide.