My conference event this year found me in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the “City of Lakes”, for the MERLOT International Conference (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching). Serving as a multimedia developer for the Center for Teaching & Learning I felt right at home amongst my peers. On the menu this year at MERLOT was WEB 2.0 technologies, collaborative online tools (blogs, wikis), digital archives and the hot-topic of the year, online 3D communities as educational spaces.
The conference, which began August 7th and ran through August 10th was attended by faculty and instructional design staff from across the US and North America, as well as many international attendees. Having only attended a few conferences in my life and MERLOT being the biggest and the first professional conference I left the Green Mountain State to attend, I was almost shocked by how friendly the other attendees were, I was delighted to discover that my greatest learning tools were not as much the materials being taught at the conference, but the attendees and presenters I interacted with. The conversations that occurred after and between sessions were often just as informative as the actual instructional sessions.
However there were several sessions that I attended that I found of particular interest, one such session, Understanding Web 2.0 Technologies: Using Wikis, Blogs & Podcasting which was presented by Cris Guenter (California State University, Chico) stuck with me through the entire conference. The workshop focused on introducing various types of WEB 2.0 collaborative tools to the audience and giving everyone an opportunity to try for them. In my personal situation most of the tools Dr. Guenter introduced to were ones we are currently running workshops on at UVM, the value of the session for me came from learning how Dr. Guenter chose to instruct her audience. Her particular emphasis on “mash-ups” was exceptional, essentially tools on the web that incorporate data from more than one location into a single integrated tool; an example would be, a social bookmaking tool, combining social networking with bookmaking links.
In addition to hosting the conference, the MERLOT organization itself is an excellent repository for educational resources. I would suggest checking out their site to see what materials are available for use!
Many of the lectures from MERLOT 2007 have also been posted to the website so that those that didn’t have an opportunity to attend a lecture can still benefit from them. I would be more than happy to discuss MERLOT and their academic offerings, feel free to email me or visit me during my Doctor is In Shift in BHL 303, every Tuesday from 12:30 – 3:00.
Will Webb
Center for Teaching and Learning