15 June 2023

MERLOT: How ASEAN Universities Can Scale Up Faculty Development Faster, More Effectively, and More Affordably

Ninnart Ratanasukhon
AUN Programme Officer;

The AUN-TEPL Workplan Seminar 2023 took place from 25-26 May 2023 at Singapore Management University, Singapore. Senior thought leaders, academics, and industry practitioners from AUN Members and beyond came together to chart ways forward for leveraging the potential of technology to empower lecturers and learners.

One of the highlighted sessions of the event is the keynote presentation by Dr. Gerry Hanley, Executive Director of MERLOT and SkillsCommons. AUN-TEPL signed an MOU with MERLOT, Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, in 2020. As a global resources-sharing platform, MERLOT provides users with direct access to curated teaching and learning materials from the global communities of academia. AUN-TEPL’s MOU with MERLOT means members from across the ASEAN+3 network can both leverage the rich collection of these globally curated resources for faculty development and contribute self-developed digital resources to the international academic community.

In the comprehensive keynote presentation, Dr. Gerry Hanley elaborated on the tools, resources, and strategies that members of the AUN-TEPL can utilise through MERLOT in scaling up faculty development faster, more effectively, and in a more affordable way.

MERLOT as a Kitchen Service

Dr. Hanley compared the delivery of teaching to ‘cooking’ when explaining what Open Educational Resources, Open Educational Practices, and Open Educational Services of MERLOT are about. 

“When we think about cooking, we often have to begin with your ingredients. Some of these you might grow in your backyard or in your own garden, and another material you might buy from a store. Ingredients are often a combination of what you create and what others have created. Now, when it comes to education, that’s what Open Educational Resources is about. The ingredients that you bring into your teaching and learning in order for you to produce an effective educational experience.”

Apart from the ‘ingredients,’ a cook also needs to know ‘how’ to prepare those ingredients or use the ingredients in the most optimal way. This equates to Open Educational Practices.

“Now, ingredients aren't anywhere near enough if you’re really gonna prepare a meal right? You have to have the recipe, the know-how in how to prepare those ingredients, and that becomes really important in order for you to be effective also in education. That is what these Open Educational Practices are. A pedagogical strategy for using all these digital technologies to create a powerful learning experience, and it’s the guideline that you learn from one another just like you have a cookbook that you might look at how other people prepare it.” 

Lastly, with all the ingredients and the recipe needed, a cook needs the utensils, the tools that will help us put all the ingredients together and turn them into a proper meal. That is the Open Educational Framework.

“With the recipe and ingredients, or the Open Educational Resources and Practices, you’re really prepared to deliver education but you need a kitchen, right? You need the equipment, you need the utensil, you need the tool to help do all this preparation and now, the really important tool is the Open Education Framework, the services that help you find the ingredients that you need, find the practices, and then do the work of mixing it. Sometimes, you wanna create your own open educational resources, or you wanna leverage the learning management system of other free tools that are out there to help you deliver that quality education just as you need. All these tools help you prepare a good meal” 

MERLOT can serve as a one-stop kitchen service for institutions to find the ingredients, the recipes, and the utensils for their teaching deliveries. Academics can find the materials created and shared by others, or share the materials they find useful themselves. MERLOT also provides a dedicated forum for academics to share good practices, know-how, or the ‘recipe’ for delivering quality learning experiences or utilising certain materials to the utmost benefit. 

Dr. Hanley stressed that the Open Education Resources, Open Educational Practices, and Open Educational Services are important as institutions can collaborate and accelerate innovations more effectively and efficiently. Institutions will no longer have to re-invent the wheels in the face of emerging challenges when they are able to share among one another solutions, tools, and good practices. In doing so, the universities will truly become a learning organisation.

What can MERLOT Offer?

Through MERLOT, lecturers can gain access to the collection of curated discipline-specific teaching resources and faculty development resources. 

MERLOT’s discipline-specific resources now cover more than 20 disciplines of studies from humanistic and STEM fields. Wanting to know how fellow biology lecturers are engaging with their students? Curious how fellow history lecturers are taking their students through the history of Constitutional Law? MERLOT can assist lecturers in exchanging resources, materials, know-how, and good practices in each discipline.

MERLOT is also housing a generous collection of materials for faculty development and pedagogy. Wanting to know more about gamification? Finding the right mobile app to help your students learn? MERLOT has the faculties covered with plenty of materials from various aspects of faculty development: Pedagogy, ICT Literacy, Mobile Learning, Open Education Practices, Virtual STEM Lab, and more.

Lecturers who want to hear fellow lecturers’ experiences on Open Educational Practices can do so via ‘Open Educational Practices and ePortfolios,’ where the international community of academia can share their own stories and experiences.

Accessing MERLOT as an AUN-TEPL Member

AUN-TEPL now has more than 400 faculties from its member universities on MERLOT. Forty-four materials were already authored or submitted by AUN-TEPL members, and 46 already created a ‘bookmark collection,’ a personal collection of materials they like or find useful.

By accessing MERLOT as a member of AUN-TEPL, you can immediately gain access to the community of fellow faculties from AUN-TEPL member universities and the resources they have authored, submitted, or bookmarked. By adding your secondary affiliation as ‘AUN-TEPL,’ fellow AUN-TEPL colleagues will be able to find you, and collaborations will only be a click away.

Dr. Hanley also provided a brief demonstration of how faculties can access the various materials and communities in MERLOT, check out the full coverage of his presentation on AUN-TEPL’s website for more information.

Wanting to be a member of MERLOT and start sharing your materials or learning from others now? MERLOT’s membership is free of charge and can be signed up through: MERLOT

For more information on AUN-TEPL and its membership, please access: https://www.auntepl.com/.