Team leader: Barbra Bied Sperling, Manager of Technical Development.
“MERLOT is a free and open peer reviewed collection of online teaching and learning materials and faculty-developed services contributed and used by an international education community. The MERLOT collection consists of tens of thousands of discipline-specific learning materials, learning exercises, and Content Builder web pages, together with associated comments, and personal collections, all intended to enhance the teaching and learning experience.”
MERLOT is a metadata repository containing records for 46,000 open educational resources covering a wide range of subjects and all levels of education. Users are able to comment on and aggregate resources to create personal collections. MERLOT resources are peer reviewed by members and each resource record includes a “Quality Tile”, which presents information on peer reviews, user ratings, comments and collections the resource has been added to.
MERLOT also provides access to a wide range of additional facilities including APIs to integrate with learning management systems and other applications, mobile search apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry, a content builder for creating hosted online learning materials and various community building tools such as discipline communities, community discussions, and social networking facilities.
MERLOT uses Spring Framework as well as a number of Apache Commons java libraries and is served from CentOS (Linux) using Apache and Tomcat. Eclipse IDE, Vim and Notepad++ are used for editing, and Mozilla Firefox for testing. MERLOT applications are not open source.
MERLOT has developed a proprietary metadata schema, which covers a range of common fields including title, URL, description, material type, primary audience, language, keywords, subject category / disciplines, author information, technical format, technical requirements, mobile platforms, license, cost and accessibility. Fields are stored in Oracle database tables. Metadata is created by users when a resource is added to MERLOT, and it is rarely modified beyond this point, other than to verify that all links still work. MERLOT does not share metadata with the Learning Registry, and MERLOT metadata records are not Creative Commons licensed.
A mapping (.xls) has been created between the proprietary MERLOT metadata schema and LRMI to enable the appropriate microtags to be added to resource description pages within MERLOT.
Merlot uses the following LRMI properties:
Plus additional Schema.org properties:
The alignmentType of educationAlignment is educationalSubject, which maps to a proprietary vocabulary.
Since implementing LRMI MERLOT has not observed any measurable impact, although it is possible that the presence of LRMI and schema.org metadata on MERLOT’s resource description pages increases the discoverability of resources.