From Zero to Engagement: Creating Versatile Assignments Using OER in MERLOT

Concurrent Session 8
Streamed Session MERLOT

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Brief Abstract

Developing engaging, versatile assignments across curricula using OER is never easy.  Use MERLOT to bring challenging and relevant material to your students.  Work with members of the MERLOT Teacher Education Board to explore sample assignments and learn how to create your own student-centered assignments from MERLOT materials.


Jane Moore is the Director of MERLOT Editorial and Professional Development Services. She also serves as Editor for MERLOT's Teacher Education Board. Jane has taught online since 2002, and after 27 years in the elementary classroom and 16 years in higher education full time, has embraced online learning with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Dr. Cris Guenter, Professor of Education at California State University, Chico She specializes in teaching that focuses on arts education, computer graphics, and technology in education. Her research interests include technology's intersection with the arts, authentic assessment, and online instruction. She teaches credential and graduate level courses in the arts, technology, and curriculum development. In 2008 she was recognized as the National Art Educator of the Year. Cris has experience in giving engaging keynote presentations for K-university educators at the state and national levels. She has been involved with MERLOT since its inception in 1999.
Angela Gunder is the Chief Academic Officer and VP of Learning for the Online Learning Consortium. In this role, she is responsible for gathering, curating, and leveraging the intellectual capital created by and disseminated through OLC. Prior to her position at the OLC, Angela served as the Director of Instructional Design & Curriculum Development for the Office of Digital Learning, managing and mentoring the team that builds the fully-online programs for The University of Arizona. Her over fifteen-year career as a designer for higher education informs her instructional design practice, where she leverages her expertise in web design, usability, visual communication, programming, and standards-based online learning. She is an Associate Editor for the Teacher Education Board of MERLOT, and the recipient of the 2018 MERLOT Distinguished Service Award, the organization’s highest honor. She is also the recipient of two Online Learning Consortium Effective Practice Awards for the creation of a framework for personal learning networks, and for the creation of exploratory installations of education technology, respectively. In 2019, Dr. Gunder was named an OLC Fellow for her dedication to service, innovation, and scholarship in support of student success in online learning. Her research interests include open educational practices, digital literacies, narrative in online course design, and emerging technology for second language acquisition. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Fine Art from Fordham University, a M.Ed. in Education Technology from Arizona State University. Angela completed her Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies at The University of Arizona, where in 2020 she was named an Erasmus Scholar by the College of Education for her commitment to the college, the university and to the community. Pronouns: she/her/hers
As the senior instructional designer at Clarkson University in New York State, my passion is creating engaging, diverse teaching and learning experiences for students and faculty. I am recognized as an Open SUNY Fellow Expert Online Instructional Designer and am also a certified Quality Matters Master Reviewer; I have reviewed or observed hundreds of online and blended course using various checklists including the OSCQR. I am a member of the MERLOT Teacher Education Editorial Board and a MERLOT Peer Reviewer Extraordinaire. Since earning my NYS teacher certification and a Master’s degree in Educational Computing from Buffalo State College in 2000, I have enjoyed teaching in higher education. Also I have had the pleasure of using my entrepreneurial skills to start several businesses, the most recent being Mobile Tech Mentor, computing services for those who need a little help. I have presented at a wide variety of venues over the last 15 years or so, such as Moodle Moot, Quality Matters, ADEIL, Online Learning Consortium, Sloan-C International Online Learning, Sloan-C Blending Learning, eLearning Consortium of Colorado Conference, SUNY Online Learning Summit (SOL) (DOODLE), Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference (TLT) and the Conference on Instructional Technologies on topics such as Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale: Development of an interactive, baseline professional development initiative ; Our Moodle Template: Who, what, why and how?; Building a Bridge to Success: Meeting Your Students Where They Are; Enhance Your Online Course and Engage Your Students with Video; Add Zest to the Final Project!; Adventures in Energy Course Redesign: Can You Say Solar Photovoltaic?; Online Course Quality; Emerging Technologies for Online Learning and Opening the Gate: How You and Your Students Will Benefit from Open Educational Resources; Course Redesign Made Easy with SoftChalk; Using Macromedia Captivate to Create Online Tutorials, and Small Business Development – Online Environment & Program Level Quality and more.
Dr. Esperanza Zenon is an Associate Professor of Physical Science at River Parishes Community College (RPCC). She is the current Division Coordinator for Math and Natural Sciences at RPCC. She serves as the Chair of the RPCC EESTEM II Grant Project Committee, which engages in action research aimed at improving teaching and learning in RPCC’s STEM and Technical classes. She is also a member of the RPCC Online Course Review Committee, which establishes standards and practices for all online classes at RPCC. Dr. Zenon is very passionate about STEM equity and serves on the Executive, Membership, and Strategic Planning Committees for the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), a consortium of state and local agencies, corporations, and national organizations which work to build educators’ capacity to implement effective solutions for increasing student access, educational equity, and workforce diversity. She is also involved with several organizations that work to make education more affordable for students through the utilization of Open Education Resources (OER), to include the Open Textbook Network (OTN), the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) OpenStax Partnership, and MERLOT. Dr. Zenon has a Master of Arts degree in Physics from Wayne State University, and a Ph.D. in Science/Mathematics Education from Southern University.

Additional Authors

Tammy is a senior learning designer with Strategic Education, Inc.. In this role, she designs story-based courses in a variety of disciplines. She has been teaching in higher education, both online and face-to-face, for over ten years. Tammy holds a Ph.D. in Educational Theory and Practice with an emphasis in Instructional Technology from the University at Albany. She also holds a BA and MA in American History from the University at Albany. Her research interests include innovative delivery of story-based instruction, higher order thinking in the history classroom, alternative delivery of content to students, and the use of video in higher education. Her publications have appeared in Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning. Tammy has presented at educational conferences including Northeast Education Research Association (NERA), American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), and Northeast Regional Computing Program (NERCOMP).

Extended Abstract

Using open educational practices (OEP) to create teaching and learning materials (including assignments) has proven effective in "increas(ing) student learning while breaking down barriers of affordability and accessibility." (, 2019)  This session will provide a process for virtual and onsite attendees to develop meaningful assignments for and with their students.  The session will include an overview of MERLOT, how to search for materials and assignments, and how to use them for teaching and learning.  Using the Learning Exercise Template makes it easy to create an assignment for any material within MERLOT.  Additionally, faculty and students can embed assignments in a MERLOT Content Builder page to share with others and/or to submit to MERLOT.  Presenters will give examples of assignments they have developed using MERLOT tools and resources.  Attendees will break into small groups to work on enhancing an already published assignment in MERLOT, with presenters serving as resources; virtual attendees will have online mentors through the use of a Zoom room.  The virtual and face-to-face breakout session will conclude with sharing practices and examples that have surfaced during the discussion; participants can include their work in a link available to all attendees.  At the end of the presentation, attendees should be able to use MERLOT resources to develop a new assignment or enhance an existing assignment in their discipline.

Pennsylvania State University.  (2019).  Benefits of Using OER.  Retrieved from