Four Sites to Explore Digital Learning Resources for Use in Blended Delivery
With the advent of the Digital Action Plan for Education in Quebec and the increased interest in changing up the delivery of course material, many teachers are wondering how they might get started with blended learning. For those who want to offer part of their theory at a distance while devoting in-class time to alternative teaching strategies, there are a few sites that offer pre-designed Digital Learning Resources (DLRs) that you might want explore for inspiration.
Exploring these sites provides an idea of the vast number of possibilities for alternating teaching approaches through accessing resources created by other educators. Much in the way a budding programmer can accelerate their learning by examining code, exploring Digital Learning Resources on the following sites provides access to the creativity of teachers from around the globe and can help to reduce our learning curve.
The MERLOT Collection
The MERLOT Collection was created by California State University in 1997. According to its web site, the “system provides access to curated online learning and support materials and content creation tools, led by an international community of educators, learners and researchers.”
The landing page of the MERLOT Collection allows you to search by keyword or by discipline as well as offering tools for you to add and create DLRs
This collection is the gold standard in Digital Learning Resource cataloguing and management. The MERLOT team makes an effort to ensure that resources are peer-reviewed and site users may also rate the resources that have been uploaded to the site. Both peer-review scores and site user scores appear for each resource.
Looking for a Cash Flow Statement tutorial for an accounting course, or a primer on Sample Size Determination for a stats course? MERLOT has got you covered!
Open Educational Resources (OERs) are subset of DLRs that generally allow educators more freedom to copy, edit and adapt existing resources for use in their educational practice.
The OER Commons is a web-based collection of OERs that was created by a non-profit group based in California that seeks to promote open educational practices
Similar to Merlot, the OER commons website offers keyword and discipline based searches as well as resource creation tools. The key focus of the site is on Open Education Resources that can be copied, edited and adapted for use in your educational practice.
The OER Commons web site also seeks to create a community by offering the ability to create a hub of educators with a common interest. According to their site, “a Hub is a custom resource center on OER Commons where groups can create and share collections associated with a project or organization. Projects, institutions, states and initiatives make use of Hubs to bring groups of educators together to create, organize, and share collections that meet their common goals.”
CCDMD’s World of Images
Closer to home, the CCDMD maintains the World of Images website, which catalogues photos and multimedia files that can be used in presentations or inserted into on-line learning environments like Moodle or for a blended learning scenario. Since the site is based in Quebec, much of the content has been categorized by the disciplines and program codes used within our own college system.
A stunning time-lapse photo of the night sky adorns the landing page of the World of Images website from the CCDMD. The interface provides easy access to discipline-based albums and a keyword search.
According to the World of Images website, the “main objective of the World of Images collection is to provide copyright-free media for use in the development of quality educational material.”
Interestingly, you may choose to submit content that you have created to the site, as the CCDMD provides free space for managing and storing high-resolution digital media.
In order to facilitate the discovery of digital teaching and learning resources within Quebec, La Vitrine technologie-éducation has developed the CERES platform based on the COMETE infrastructure developed in conjunction with other partners in higher education. According the its website, “Ceres provides a collective catalog of teaching and learning resources gathered by various organizations involved in the production and collection of digital resources.”
The CERES interface offers a simple search interface with the possibility to search in either English or French or both languages. Underneath the hood of this intuitive interface lies a sophisticated engine that uses Learning Object Metadata (LOM) in the form of keywords, descriptions and a panoply of data on the learning resources that help to describe the DLRs to educators around the world.
VTE’s expertise in the domain of harvesting and cataloguing DLRs has been recognized by the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur who has asked the VTE to conduct a needs analysis for a future unified search portal for DLRs in higher education in Quebec. This study is being conducted in collaboration with ministerial IT partners - the CCDMD and the CDC.
Acknowledging the Source and Paying it Forward
The web sites mentioned above contain resources developed by your international peers from education. It is important to acknowledge their work by citing the source within your own material should you draw inspiration from their examples or reuse their content.
When using Digital Learning Resources created by others, check the licence of the content to make sure that you can modify it for use within your own learning context. Many DLRs have explicit mentions of the Creative Commons licence that dictates how the content may be used by others.
Once you have had the experience of developing some of your own DLRs, perhaps you could pay it forward by sharing your creativity with the world!
What are some of your favourite Digital Learning Resource sites? We would like to hear from you in the comments section below!