I know what you’re thinking… and yes, I had a lovely glass of Therapy Vineyards‘ wonderful 2009 Merlot last night – but I promise I’ll avoid a big tangent about how much I love Naramata wines and stick with educational technology.

MERLOT is a California State University System program, and it is AMAZING. It includes an incredible catalogue of open textbooks; learning materials including powerpoints, worksheets, quizzes,  simulations, videos; pedagogical information; a peer-reviewed journal (Journal of Online Learning and Teaching), and a list of “virtual guest speakers” who are available to speak to classes. There is such a huge amount of information available that I haven’t even scratched the surface of the biology offerings (never mind all the other subjects available) but I will certainly be using this in my lesson planning. This resource is mentioned in our course textbook but I didn’t realize just how extensive it was going to be, and I encourage everyone to check it out to see what’s available for your subject area.

I explored the various biology resources and found some great resources such as Cells Alive – a site with videos, pictures and animations of types of cells, their components, and the process of cell division. Some of the background information is just in text form, but it’s written in clear, simple language that I think my students will find a little more straightforward than their textbook. There are also PowerPoint slides, worksheets and quizzes for various topics.

Another great one for my Biology 12 class is a resource called DNA from the Beginning. I love this because it shows how our various experiments helped scientists come to our modern understanding of genetics. There is a sequence of 75 (!!) experiments explained, each with text, animation, and a problem. Each scientist has a detailed bio and some have video interviews.This site really aligns with a key idea I try to impart in my classes: that science is not just a collection of facts, but a process for understanding the world that involves lots of hard work by many people, and that science is constantly growing. The problems are at varying levels, so teachers will have to pick through to find ones that are right for their classes.

Anyhow.. that’s just two of the huge number of resources available on MERLOT – I will be spending lots of time exploring it!


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