Founded back in the relatively early days of the graphical interface web (1997), MERLOT (the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) remains something of a sleeper for classroom teachers. I wrote about this 3 years ago, on its 10-year anniversary, and I am still finding teachers who have never heard of it. This is not a comment on the tech-savvy-ness of teachers but rather to difficulties of promoting truly useful educational technology resources to the people who could most use them.
The idea behind MERLOT is to allow free access to educational materials developed and rated by teachers – or alternatively, for them to share links out to useful materials that they have used in their work and rated appropriately. Not everything linked or filed in MERLOT is necessarily free, but most is. And don’t let the “online” part of their title deter classroom teachers from using the materials. If your students can connect to the internet from your classroom, or you can access the materials and show them on a projector, you may still find these resources useful.
I confess that I still have difficulty finding exactly what I need sometimes, but that is no worse on MERLOT than it is on YouTube, for instance, and usually means that I need to refine my keywords for a search. My strategy is to budget a limited amount of time (usually using Pomodoro methodology … i.e. 25 minutes on the kitchen timer) for searching this resource. If I can’t find it in 25 minutes, I move on to a different site … or contact my friendly neighborhood spiderman librarian.
If you have found other useful learning object repositories, please let me know in the comments or send me an email!