The Pro’s and Con’s of Open Education

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Normally I wouldn’t promote a for-profit company when writing about OER, which by some people’s definitions means totally and absolutely free.  But sometimes something will come across my desk from one of those “evil” for-profits that is so good that I feel I just have to share it with our community.  The most recent example of this is an infographic entitled Wide Open Spaces: The Pros and Cons of Open Education from

This infographic, complete with citations, provides an interesting graphical perspective on topics described by its title.  I’m including the top screen of the infographic here, but urge you to link to it and view/read it in its entirety.

Also, from time to time members of the MERLOT community, myself included, add learning materials to the MERLOT collection that do in fact cost money.  We allow them and we add them because we feel that sometimes you just have to spend a little money to get the best. Whenever there is a cost involved, it is noted in MERLOT. So if you have your own learning materials or use others that are not in MERLOT, we encourage you to add them to the MERLOT collection to share with others.

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Onward and Upward: JOLT merges with OLJ

It’s sad to see an old friend go, especially one that you have become very fond of over the years. On the other hand sometimes you have to let friends go if their departure means bigger and better things for them.  So it is with our old friend JOLT – the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching.

The second issue of 2015 of JOLT that will be published in June will be MERLOT’s final issue. On the one hand, while we are sad to be giving up this pioneering Open Access, peer-reviewed publication that has been part of the MERLOT family for almost 10 years, we are delighted and proud that JOLT will be merged with the Online Learning Consortium’s Online Learning Journal (formerly JALN).

You may already be aware of MERLOT’s and OLC’s joint sponsorship of the annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium (ET4Online). This new merger will broaden the cooperative efforts between our organizations.  The new journal will integrate editorial staffs and retain the name Online Learning Journal (OLJ).  We anticipate that the combined efforts will extend reach, improve quality, and result in increased efficiencies for both OLC and MERLOT.

So while we at MERLOT will still retain the archives of all previously published JOLT articles, all new submissions and publications of OLJ will be maintained by OLC.  OLJ will also be an Open Access publication.

The MERLOT staff greatly appreciates all the work that has been done by so many volunteers over the years, to invent JOLT and to make it the success it became.  And we intend to work together with our good friends at OLC to continue our efforts with the Online Learning Journal.

For more information on the merger or to submit a manuscript to OLJ, visit their site at

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The following press release announcing MERLOT II was distributed on October 14 and the new version of MERLOT was shown publicly at the MERLOT booth at the show.

PRESS RELEASE – October 14, 2013

MERLOTII Booth at Educause '13

On October 15, CSU-MERLOT will premiere the enhanced Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT II) website at the EDUCAUSE annual conference in Anaheim, Calif. One of the first peer-reviewed, open online libraries of higher education learning materials, MERLOT was developed by the California State University and is an open resource community that features more than 40,000 free online learning materials including open textbooks, open journals, animations, case studies, simulations, virtual labs and more for nearly every higher education discipline in an easily searchable open library. The CSU utilizes MERLOT to provide free access to high-quality online materials, a key part of the University’s initiative to use technology to improve student success while maintaining affordability.

“As more faculty look to incorporate online resources into their courses, MERLOT continues to be a leader in ensuring that peer reviewed online learning materials are easily available and free of charge,” said Gerry Hanley, assistant vice chancellor of Academic Technology Services for the CSU Chancellor’s Office and executive director of MERLOT.

New and improved features offered on the enhanced MERLOT website include simplified navigation, more powerful search functions, mobile-tablet readiness, access to new social networking features and authoring tools all aimed at delivering robust services that are very user-friendly for teachers and learners.

MERLOT also serves a worldwide community of individual members, higher education, institutional and corporate partners all dedicated to improving education.  Those who join the MERLOT community by registering as members can contribute learning materials, receive peer recognition and share their online expertise with more than 115,000 existing MERLOT members from across the globe.

Please click here to view the new MERLOT website, access tens of thousands of free high-quality online materials and join the MERLOT community.

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MERLOT is a free and open online community and resource designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy. MERLOT provides leading edge, user-centered collections of peer-reviewed higher education online learning materials catalogued by registered members, as well as delivers a range of open educational services.

MERLOT’s strategic goal is to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning by increasing the quantity and quality of peer reviewed online learning materials that can be easily incorporated into faculty designed courses.

MERLOT’s activities are based on the creative collaboration and support of its Individual Members, Institutional Partners, Corporate Partners and Editorial Boards.

Integral to MERLOT’s continuing development of faculty development support services are its:

  • Building and sustaining online      academic communities
  • Online teaching and learning initiatives
  • Building, organizing, reviewing,      and developing applications of online teaching-learning materials

MERLOT maintains its currency through ongoing and continuing communication with its worldwide supporters in a variety of ways, including the annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Conference with the Sloan Consortium, the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT), member publications, news and our  MERLOT Voices website to enable users to communicate with others.