The Course Material Repositories serve several functions. These collections hold course materials (sometimes entire courses) which have some relevance to the Open Science Network in Ethnobiology. These repositories may also serve, either individually or collectively, as places to store course materials which are of direct interest to OSN participants. Obviously, these institutions are evolving.
National Repository for On-Line Courses
Courses in the NROC library are contributed by developers from leading academic institutions across the United States. All courses are assessed to ensure they meet high standards of scholarship, instructional value, and presentational impact. NROC works with scholars and contributes resources to improve course quality and to provide ongoing maintenance. NROC courses are designed to cover the breadth and depth of topics based on generally accepted national curricula and can also be customized within a course management system. [from theNROC website]
This repository, as the name suggests, is for entire courses and thus may be not be appropriate for some modules that are produced by our network. On the other hand, NROC has a system they've designated called 'Social Authoring' that consists of author teams that form an online community to plan and share work. The elements of the Social Authoring teams are Core Authors, Contributing authors, Supporting authors (all are Subject matter Experts) and an editorial, design and technical development team (NROC people) that helps plan the syllabus, table of contents and approach of the course.
Institutions who wish to have access to the materials and development team must pay a fee. This may not fit our needs for several reasons. 1. We are our own community of experts in widely dispersed universities, etc., something which is not reflected in their pricing options (institutions by number of users); 2. while individual users have free access to the content, institutions are not afforded the same courtesy, though one wonders how they police the policy; and 3. focus is on general education subjects.
However, we may consider working with them to develop an Ethnobotany course.
Open Learning Initiative
Open coursework offered by Carnegie Mellon University with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. They stress feedback loops for continuous improvements. It appears that the free courses or labs do not includes quizzes or tests. Those for academic use entail a small per-user fee ($15-25) that may be waived, and may include quizzes and tests, and a fuller version of what they offer. It sounds as though it is very user friendly for both the student and the author.
Quick and easy access to the highest-quality teaching and learning materials. Verizon Thinkfinity offers comprehensive teaching and learning resources created by our content partners – the most respected organizations in each academic subject and literacy. The easy-to-navigate K-12 resources are grade-specific and are aligned with state standards. [from the Thinkfinity website]
Verizon Foundation's site for K-12 web-based teaching, with content from a number of partners such as AAAS, NEH, National Geographic Society, and the Smithsonian. It is a free, comprehensive digital learning platform based upon the merging of MarcoPolo and Thinkfinity Literacy Network. Although not specifically set up for undergraduate education, it certainly has many ties and input for K-12 education.
Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and On-Line Teaching (MERLOT)
MERLOT is a free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy. MERLOT is a leading edge, user-centered, collection of peer reviewed higher education, online learning materials, catalogued by registered members and a set of faculty development support services.
MERLOT's strategic goal is to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning by increasing the quantity and quality of peer reviewed online learning materials that can be easily incorporated into faculty designed courses. [from the MERLOT website]
MERLOT advertises itself as a multimedia educational resource for learning and online teaching. It is broken up by discipline and then allows the entry of materials by type including simulations, animations, tutorials, lecture/presentation, case study, collection, reference material and more. Materials are peer reviewed by their reviewers (at least 2) whose comments are posted. Peer review standards are posted, a rubric that may be helpful for us. The rubric is relatively simple. You have to be a member to contribute. There is an associated journal (J of online teaching and learning). They boast a membership of 60,000 and membership is free unless you want to join at a higher level (partner, campus subscriber). IP protection policies follow creative commons. Materials are categorized by type and then displayed for searching. Status of peer review is easily seen next to the title, author and type. Very few of the biology modules have been reviewed. This may mean a lack of reviewers, a lack of end users or both. All in all, this system seems well suited for our purposes. Lessons could be cross listed according to discipline. We constitute our own set of reviewers, so it would be a simple matter of individuals joining the site. Perhaps our rubric will be more thorough than theirs.