So you’re looking for OERs and don’t know how to do it. I’ve written about this elsewhere in this blog – it’s not hard to find OERs these days, especially as repositories, ostensibly like MERLOT’s, are popping up all over the Web. More and more, as OERs become the essential building blocks of course content, it will be easy to search for them, but not so easy to find the ‘right stuff.’ But…
… with Siri and Cortana now inhabiting our phones, tablets, and computers, and with the likes of Alexa and Google Assistant invading our homes, it won’t be uncommon for instructors to engage MERLOT in dialogues like the following, between Kelly, an instructor, and MERLOT:
KELLY: Hi MERLOT; I need OERs for a new course that’s been assigned to me. Can you help me?
MERLOT: Hi Kelly. I’d be pleased to. Is this a search we’ve done before, or a new one?
Kelly: A new one.
MERLOT: OK. Please tell me more about the course. For example, what’s the academic discipline, what grade level, etc.?
KELLY: It’s a freshman math course.
MERLOT: Is this for high school or college?
KELLY: It’s college level.
MERLOT: Are there any specific math topics that you will covering in the course?
KELLY: It’s essentially an introduction to calculus
MERLOT: I presume you would like the OERs for your intro calculus freshman course to be in English
MERLOT: Do you want these OERs to be available only for mobile devices
MERLOT: Do you have any preference for the kinds of OERs you want?
KELLY: What do you mean by the kind of OER?
MERLOT: I mean things like e-texts, online courses, animations, etc. Or I could show you a list of all the possibilities.
KELLY: I would like only e-texts and animations.
MERLOT: Any particular format for the e-texts and animations?
KELLY: What kinds of formats are there?
MERLOT: For e-texts the most popular are PDF and Microsoft Word. I could show you a list of all the possibilities. For animations there are lots of possibilities.
KELLY: PDFs for the texts, and just find animation OERs. I will pick what I want.
MERLOT: Will you want to modify or customize any of the materials?
KELLY: I’d like the option to do that.
MERLOT: Do you care if the materials have a cost associated with them?
KELLY: Yes. I’d like them to free.
MERLOT: OK. I will search all relevant OER sources, starting with my own repository which is far and away the best one available, and then I’ll generate a list for you. I will display that list, including relevant hyperlinks here, and if you want, I can also email the list to you.
… Pause for a second or two …
MERLOT: I’ve found 44 e-texts and 54 animations in the MERLOT collection. If you like, I can broaden the search to other relevant collections and even to the World Wide Web. Would you like me to do that?
KELLY: No. Just show me the MERLOT list.
MERLOT (Displays the 98 items): Is there anything else you need now?
KELLY: No thanks
MERLOT: Would you like me to save this search?
KELLY: Yes please.
MERLOT: OK, it’s saved. Next time, just ask me retrieve your last “math” search. Talk to you later Kelly.
KELLY: Thanks, MERLOT. I can’t imagine what I’d do without you!