Open Educational Resources, Practices, and Services Delivered by CourseNetworking World (CN World), MERLOT, and SkillsCommons.

Concurrent Session 4
Equity and Inclusion

Brief Abstract

The recent partnership of MERLOT-SkillsCommons and CourseNetworking World (CN World) is delivering a free and open learning management platform and ePortfolio, combined with the free and open teaching and learning library, and supported with experts sharing open educational practices to higher education in developing countries.


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.

Extended Abstract

PRESENTERS:  Gerry Hanley (MERLOT-SkillsCommons) and Ali Jafari (CourseNetworking World)

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching  @ is an international cooperative formed for the purpose of aggregating and making freely accessible high quality online resources to improve learning and teaching within higher education.   Administered by the California State University Long Beach Foundation, the cooperative connects systems, consortiums, and institutions of higher education, professional organizations of academic disciplines, and individual members to form a community of people who strive to enrich the teaching and learning experience.  SkillsCommons ( is another OER collection managed by the CSU-MERLOT team and focuses on serving the workforce development needs of various stakeholder groups.

CN World is a new nonprofit 501(C)(3) organization, founded in 2022 to offer free and open teaching and learning software tools and services to individual teachers and students around the world, and to offer free schoolwide software licenses to qualified colleges and universities worldwide with its initial free offering to schools in developing nations. CN World is committed to bridging the digital divide and ensuring equal access to high-quality educational technology tools to facilitate learning for students all over the world. The CN World parent company is CourseNetworking LLC (CN), a for profit Company founded by Indiana University and Ali Jafari in 2011.   The defining features of CN World’s technologies include the social networking that reinforces and complements student learning, integrating gaming services for recognition of achievements, and the technology is based around the profile of the person rather than the profile of the course they enroll in. The CN Learning Management System (LMS) is conceptualized and designed as the next generation of open LMS, like the platform and business model of Moodle and Sakai.  Furthermore, CN offers an additional inclusive hosting intertwined with the CN platform.  In the CN conceptual model all students and instructors are in one global community of learners (database) as appose to the Moodle and Sakai that each instance is isolated from others.  The CN platform, additionally, provides a lifelong ePortfolio toolbox offering lifelong and portable ePortfolio to all students to assist them with personal branding in a global job market. CN was founded by capital investment from Indiana University in 2012.

The joint goals of CN-World and MERLOT-SkilllsCommons for the collaborative project are:

  • Enable learners and teachers in the international community to develop their academic and workforce development skills and knowledge through the free and open social and technology offerings of CN-World and MERLOT-SkillsCommons.  CN-World and MERLOT-SkillsCommons will be providing supplemental instructional services that will be freely available for students and faculty to blend with their own institutions’s courses.  Supplemental instruction benefits include
    • student-student interactions that strengthen “belongingness” to an academic learning community through a facilitated supplemental instruction process
    • Produce international learning experiences for students virtually
    • Facilitate diversity, equity, and inclusiveness experiences for students and faculty
    • Facilitate the adoption of “Affordable Learning Solutions” program by institutions or communities.   Reducing the financial barriers for learning is a key priority of the partnership and guiding higher education leaders with institutional strategies that reducing these barriers will be key.
    • Promote new pedagogical approaches to improve  teaching and learning by using MERLOT resources and CN World technological offers.


  • Build a scalable and sustainable collection of open courseware CN-World courses integrated with an open community of learners and teachers by leveraging the expertise and leadership of MERLOT-SkillsCommons and CN members
  • Provide institutional strategies for international higher education to plan, implement, and sustain open educational resources, practices, and services through the professional development and technical assistance services from leaders within the MERLOT, SkillsCommons, and CN World communities.

The presentation will demonstrate the CN World technology services, blending the MERLOT-SkillsCommons resources to deliver supplemental instructional services that can complement an instructions own curriculum.   We will also  describe the outreach activities to the MERLOT-SkillsCommons and CN communities to engage the faculty as potential CN-World Fellows/Ambassadors, or as potential CN-World Advocates who invite their students to participate in CN-World courses, or as potential CN-World students.   The personal advocacy by teaching and learning experts will be essential for the free and open technology services to be adopted, scaled, and sustained.