September 12, 2005
One of the largest challenges of using online learning systems like Blackboard is developing rich, interactive content. The Electronic Library at Baylor University is helping address this challenge by providing direct access to the MERLOT repository from within Blackboard.
MERLOT is an international cooperative with a continually growing catalog of more than 10,000 online teaching and learning materials, peer reviews, learning assignments, and user comments organized by category into specific discipline communities. MERLOT has a member directory of 20,000-plus individual faculty, students and researchers. Participating members can add to and access curricular information and learning objects to aid their use of technology in teaching and learning.
The first phase of Baylor's integration was a series of portal modules that use RSS content syndication to aggregate news about and links to the learning resources most recently added to MERLOT. Next, a Blackboard building block was installed that enables instructors using Blackboard to search the MERLOT repository directly from within the Blackboard interface. When instructors browse the collection or search for learning materials, they are able to go to a detail view of the material in MERLOT. This view describes the learning material. The learning material itself is located on the Internet. MERLOT stores a description of the content, peer reviews, member comments and assignments that instructors may have written to go with the content. From the search results, instructors can select specific learning resources and embed links to those materials within their Blackboard course site, further streamlining the process of using MERLOT's rich resources within Baylor's Blackboard environment.
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