At the Fall 2001 Session of the Academic Senate, attendees were given overviews of two important technology resources. Actually, the first of the two, the MERLOT Project, is miscast when categorized as a technology resource because it is first and foremost a teaching resource, which just happens to be available through the Internet. The Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online teaching, aka MERLOT, was begun at Sonoma State University, hence its viticulturally influenced acronym, and its title explains its function although MERLOT is useful for all educators, not just those teaching online. While there are many teaching resource sites on the Internet, the uniqueness of MERLOT comes from its evaluative function.
Here's how MERLOT works. Anybody can suggest an online resource for inclusion under MERLOT. These resources can be commercial sites or websites created by an individual instructor. The resources are listed under subject areas to facilitate access by teachers. Then comes the important part. Subject area teams made up of educators in the specific discipline work to evaluate the submitted resources using a defined set of criteria established by the project. The peer reviews are rigorous and include specific information at to how the site can be best used. The accuracy of site information, and the overall quality of the site. These evaluations are then added to the resource listing. In addition, users of the resource can add their own comments about each resource. Some teachers have encouraged students to evaluate sites after using them with their classes. When you view resources in MERLOT, whether you use the subject area listings or perform a search, you can specify whether you want evaluated resources to appear first.
The California Community Colleges are just one of 23 participants in the MERLOT Project, which involves institutions of higher education from throughout the county. Ian Walton, ASCCC Treasurer, is on the mathematics team, and his co-presenter at the Fall Session, Michelle Pilati, participants on the physics team. These teams evaluate between 12 and 30 sites per year. I recommend that you visit the site at www.merlot.org for yourself. You may find materials fro an upcoming lesson, or you may have a resource you want to suggest for inclusion. If you have questions about MERLOT, you can contact Ian at ian_Walton [at] wvmccd.cc.ca.us and Michelle at mpilati [at] rh.cc.ca.us.
The California Community College Satellite Network, aka CCCSAT, is appropriately labeled a technology resource. Funded by a TMAPP grant, the goal of CCCSAT is to provide the California Community College System with the infrastructure necessary to take advantage of satellite technology for the delivery of digital information throughout the state. While the current focus is one delivery of television, Project Director Sherilyn Hargraves emphasizes that any type of digital information can be delivered using CCCSAT.
Seventy-one districts in the California Community College System have the equipment in place to downlink from CCCSAT, and more are being added all the time. Districts can download programming that can be telecast in labs or classrooms or over district-run cable channels. CCCSAT was recently awarded a public interest channel on the DISH network, which increases its capability to reach California residents, and provides districts without access to cable channels an alternate way to reach students in their districts. This channel is called the Community College network (CCN), and its current schedule is primarily programs available over public broadcasting channels. The channel will also be used to publicize the California Community Colleges System and what the System accomplishes for the State of California.
Project Director Hargraves emphasizes, however, that CCCSAT encourages colleges and districts to provide content to CCCSAT for statewide distribution. CCCSAT is not just a way to receive programming, it is also a way to market programs you develop locally throughout the state. For more information about CCCSAT, you can reach Sherilyn Hargraves at shargraves [at] palomar.edu.