In one of my previous blogs I wrote about people who complain about not being able to find OERs. If you read that, you’ll know that I haven’t a lot of patience for that kind of laziness.
When MERLOT (www.merlot.org) was first launched in 1997, we were the only show in town where you could find online learning materials. In fact, the acronym “OER” hadn’t even been invented when we started. That was to happen 5 years later. But over the years, many different kinds of OER repositories have come (and gone) and now it’s possible to find lots of online ‘stuff’ that you can use for teaching and learning, and depending on the licenses associated with the stuff, some it might even be classifiable as a real OERs.
The MERLOT repository itself has grown over the years, and today contains about 75,000 materials, almost all of them suitable for online teaching and learning. We often say that MERLOT should be the first site you visit to find OERs. But we know that 75,000 is a tiny fraction of all the potentially useful learning materials you can find if you do a Google search, and then spend limitless hours going through the hundreds of thousands of hits to find the right stuff.
But guess what? MERLOT is soon going to help you with those Google searches. In a few months we are going to release new MERLOT functionality that will intelligently search the entire Web for your keywords, and then filter out most of the noise, focusing mostly on the kinds of hits that you, a MERLOT searcher would care about.
Our next MERLOT release will let you continue to search our own repository as you’ve always done, and will also allow you to use our new “Extended Web Search” to search the WWW. This extended search will generate a few hundred hits from the hundreds of thousands you would get from a traditional Google search, and those hits will likely be of teaching and learning value. You’ll then be able to filter those hits even more, to focus on materials even more relevant to your discipline. This search has been developed based on a “secret sauce” we’ve invented that emulates (we think and at this point we hope), the profile of a typical MERLOT Web-searcher/user.
At first we don’t expect the search to be 100% perfect, but based on our testing so far, it’s been pretty accurate. Most of what it returns is quite relevant to online teaching and learning in higher ed. And as we gain more experience with this extended web search, we’ll be fine tuning it even more, to return even better results.
It won’t be long, so stay tuned for the Newer MERLOT!
[Comment on this blog post]