Make Education More Affordable With MERLOT-SkillsCommons

Concurrent Session 7
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Apply proven practices to reduce the cost of course materials, move online with open educational resources, and open innovation on your campus by leveraging a trusted community of leaders. MERLOT and SkillsCommons provides products and services to accelerate innovations in higher education and workforce development.   


Gerard L. Hanley Ph.D. is the Executive Director of MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, and SkillsCommons ( for the California State University, the Director for the Center for Usability for Design and Accessibility and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach. At MERLOT and SkillsCommons, he directs the development and sustainability of the international consortium and technology strategy to provide open educational services to improve teaching and learning and continues to development the US Department of Labor's open repository of educational resources for workforce development. Gerry's previous positions include Assistance Vice Chancellor for Academic Technology Services at the CSU Office of the Chancellor, the Director of Faculty Development and Director of Strategy Planning at CSU, Long Beach.
Maria Fieth, M.A.2, RTC Maria currently serves as program manager responsible for partnership development for California State University-MERLOT SkillsCommons. During the last 28 years, Maria has worked with businesses and PK-20 educators providing guidance for refining and sustaining healthy learning and working environments and building partnerships and community among stakeholders. Maria's background in federally funded project management provides a strong backdrop for national level accountability and performance. Her work has received honors for building exemplary educational settings and community partnerships from Kevin Jennings of the U.S. Department of Education and Auburn University among others. Maria holds a dual Master's degree in English and in Education, a Master's degree in Psychodynamics and certifications in Reality Therapy and from the National Institute for School Leadership. She has numerous certifications as national trainer for organizations such as Ruby Payne's Poverty Framework, Olweus Bullying Prevention, Discovery Communication Model, and Crucial Conversations.

Extended Abstract

MERLOT ( is celebrating its 23rd year as an educational resource for learning and online teaching and an international community of over 175,000 faculty, staff, students, administrators, librarians, and other in education. All are interested in discovering, using, and sharing Open Educational Resources (OERs) for the improvement of technology-enhanced teaching and learning. MERLOT's globally renowned collection of more than 90,000 online learning materials has been peer- or crowd-source reviewed by members of the community.

SkillsCommons ( is a "sister" repository of the world's largest collection of workforce development OER built by MERLOT and has been operating the national open repository of open educational resources for workforce development since 2014. SkillsCommons was produced by $2 billion in grants by the U.S. Department of Labor to over 700 community colleges for the TAACCCT (Trade Adjustment Assistance for Community Colleges and Career Training) program. SkillsCommons captured and preserved the OER and expertise funded by the grants which have been downloaded over 60,000 per month. SkillsCommons has curated and improved the instructional and program support materials to support work-based learning and apprenticeship programs.

MERLOT's new portal on Open Educational Practices ( at provides a collection of over 1,000 open teaching ePortfolios of faculty sharing their "know-how" for teaching with technology, OER, virtual labs, and more.

Our Industry Showcase session will demonstrate the products and services we have available for higher education partners, organizational partners, and industry partners. We will review our “freemium” business model that outlines the premium products and services that we can affordably customize for your institutions and the free products and services that enables your faculty and students to get on board the open education train.

We will demonstrate how you can:

  1. Solve the OER Discovery problem with MERLOT’s Smart Search by facilitating easy discovery of relevant online materials in more than 75 other digital libraries, and from the World Wide Web.
  2. Adapt/Adopt “Know-how” services for moving online and adapting innovations into teaching practices. The MERLOT Content Builder allows MERLOT members to create free accessible and scalable educational websites such as a web building exercise for students, a teaching e-Portfolio or create a website for an academic project. Templates and guidelines are provided to help you quickly, easily, and professional author your own OER.
  3. Benefit from joining has a MERLOT-SkillsCommons partner by leveraging exemplary practices and services managed by MERLOT team of experts and partners

Contact: Gerry Hanley Executive Director – MERLOT & SkillsCommons.