Faculty Development

The staff, Members, and Partners of the MERLOT community have developed a variety of services, programs, and initiatives to encourage and train instructors, instructional designers, faculty development officers, and technology support providers who seek to increase their knowledge, productivity, and professional effectiveness in teaching with technology.

A benefit of Partnership is that the MERLOT Management Team can work with Partner faculty and faculty development personnel to provide a variety of training and professional development services in both the use of MERLOT, and also the integration of technology into teaching and learning. Customized campus programs can be developed by the Partner Project Director and MERLOT staff. 

These programs and initiatives include:

For more information about any of these, contact MERLOT at webmaster@merlot.org.

Faculty Development Initiative

Faculty development is a critical strategic initiative for MERLOT and its Partners. The collection of online resources found in the Faculty Development Community is available to all users of MERLOT. This is an open, cross disciplinary MERLOT portal containing resources of best practices, instructional support ideas, and materials that advance the pedagogical understanding of teaching with technology, whether in the classroom, online, or in blended models. 

Open Textbook Services

Open textbook authors publish their text on the Web with the support of their universities, or other non-profit or for-profit organizations. Open textbooks are usually governed by Creative Commons licenses that enable users to freely download, customize, and/or print the textbook without expressed and prior written consent of the author. Publishers often provide free access to open textbook content while charging lower prices for supplemental print products and services. The inclusion of advertisements can also be a condition of open availability for such text. (See how California State University is addressing the open texts with their Affordable Learning Solutions project.)

The free cost of open textbooks can be a tremendous benefit to students -- especially in difficult economic times. For faculty, an open textbook can be a platform for integrating multimedia, making the content more engaging for student learning, and more effective for faculty teaching. Some open textbooks can be customized by faculty so they can design course content to their specific teaching goals.

MERLOT has one of the largest known collections of open textbooks in the world, with thousands catalogued by topic, audience, level, license, peer review, etc., many with comments, in bookmark collections, and user ratings. MERLOT community members can take advantage of this resource in a variety of ways. They can:

Mobile Learning Initiative

Students and instructors are increasingly relying on mobile devices for many of their daily activities. MERLOT has developed a set of resources that can facilitate the use of these devices for teaching and learning, and for accessing the MERLOT repository. The collection of online mobile resources found in the MERLOT Mobile Learning Portal is available to all users of MERLOT. This resource is an open, cross disciplinary MERLOT Teaching Commons portal that focuses on mobile learning best practices, instructional support ideas, and materials that advance the pedagogical understanding of teaching with technology with mobile devices. More information can be found on the Mobile MERLOT page.

Bookmark Collections

MERLOT users often find learning materials in the collection that they wish to collect and organize under a specific theme, topic, or label. Bookmark Collections help personalize the MERLOT collection for members. It is a compilation of online resources from MERLOT that MERLOT Members can access easily to use for specific purposes, classes or topics. The owner of the Bookmark Collection can annotate each collection to more easily explain the purpose of it.

A Bookmark Collection, for example, can be used to save a set of learning materials related to a topic in a course. They are discoverable and shareable by other MERLOT users. The frequency with which a material is stored in a Bookmark Collection is considered to be a ‘statement’ of the popularity or value of that material. For this reason, MERLOT displays the number of Bookmark Collections in which each material has been placed.

There are many ways to use Bookmark Collections:

There is also additional information on creating Bookmark Collections here.

Course ePortfolios

A Course ePortfolio, an extension of a Bookmark Collection, provides MERLOT Members with the opportunity to also define strategic elements of a course (e.g., prerequisites, approach and outcomes, assessment, etc.). The MERLOT Course ePortfolio allows you to build your entire course – from prerequisites to online resources to assessment – all within MERLOT, and then share your Course ePortfolio with colleagues and students, or download it into a Word document and create your course syllabus. Additional information on Course ePortfolios can be found here.

15% Solution

A goal of MERLOT is to achieve a “15% solution” where 150,000 of the one million faculty members in North America are certified as having demonstrated skills in academic technology. A principle of the 15% Solution is that faculty who publicly demonstrate and receive public recognition of their academic technology skills become models and effectively teach other faculty how to use academic technology. By developing a critical number of academic technology-skilled faculty, a community of faculty leaders will be created and the community can sustain efforts to transform higher education practices through technology.

MERLOT anticipates that there will be a variety of possible outcomes of this program. Among them are:

MERLOT tracks Member participation in MERLOT services and automatically presents and displays contributors with awards commensurate with their participation. MERLOT has developed a hierarchy designating levels of achievement for actively participating Members. The table below shows the different levels of achievement and the associated ribbon displayed on the website, alongside the Member’s name. 

gold level Gold Level (70+ points)
silver level Silver Level (30 - 69 points)
bronze level Bronze Level (10 - 29 points)
merlot level Contributor (1 - 9 points)


Each MERLOT member can earn a point for each "transaction" they complete in MERLOT. These include:

Virtual Speakers Bureau 

The MERLOT Virtual Speakers Bureau (VSB) enables Members to register as guest speakers in their areas of expertise as well as search for and invite guest speakers to their courses, professional development workshops, and special events, either online or in person. For information on becoming the benefits of the VSB, becoming a guest expert or finding virtual speakers, go to the Virtual Speakers Bureau page.

MERLOT members who have expressed a desire to participate as guest experts have identified themselves in their MERLOT member profiles.Guest experts are available on a wide range of topics relevant to technology, teaching, and learning, including MERLOT and faculty development issues. They are available to discuss the presentation format(s) they prefer (such as email, synchronous and/or asynchronous discussion forums, chats, online conferencing, and face-to-face meetings or visits) and any special arrangements they require for participation.

Use the MERLOT Virtual Speakers Bureau today to find Guest Experts who can add a new and exciting dimension to the educational experiences of your students. Download VSB guidelines to help make your experience of inviting and using a guest expert successful and rewarding.