If you are teaching a college or university course and interested in bringing a guest speaker via videoconferencing into one or more of your classes this term, check out the Virtual Speakers Bureau of MERLOT. (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) If you are willing to serve as a virtual guest speaker for college students consider registering with MERLOT and the Virtual Speakers Bureau. Registration is free. Although the bureau is set up primarily for university faculty and student use, you certainly could join and contact bureau members as a K-12 teacher as well.

videoconferencing with ooVoo

One of the challenges for me in updating my MERLOT account profile was deciding what to list as my “primary discipline.” Should I list Education with a subcategory of TeacherEd, faculty development, or Library and Information Services? (One of the biggest projects on my plate now is a digital archives initiative.) If I choose TeacherEd, should I choose Instructional Technology, Teaching Methods, or Diversity and MultiCultural Education as a sub-category? Some of the videoconferencing sessions I hope to create / offer / facilitate in the next 6-8 months for the Oklahoma Heritage Association will fall into all those categories. Instead of Education, perhaps I should choose Science and Technology, with Information Technology as a subcategory? Or perhaps Humanities as the primary discipline, with History as the first subcategory? These are all viable options for my current educational role. Fitting into a narrow taxonomy can be much more challenging than simply tagging. If I was to “tag” my primary discipline I might use:

history, oralhistory, storytelling, digitalstorytelling, archive, web2, library, collaboration, videoconferencing, blendedlearning, research, literacy, writing, blogging, media, multimedia, socialstudies, civilrights, research, heritage

Of course many of those tags are not formal “primary disciplines” in higher education. For now, I had to make a decision so I just registered under “Education.” I’m not sure if this is the best choice or not, but it’s the one I’ve made for now. Having to select a “primary discipline” is like answering the question, “Academically, who are you?!” Being a rather eclectic person, it is a bit of a challenge to select just ONE area of emphasis.

The issue of identity is both an important and interesting one when it comes to online profiles. Who do you say you are, and who do your students say they are? What do the virtual artifacts you and your students create and publish say about who you are and what your interests are, both professionally and personally? This might be an interesting student assignment this year to consider: “tag yourself” with respect to your professional and personal interests. If you use this assignment idea with your students, please drop me a line and share a link to the results of your work if you publish it on the open web.

If you’re not familiar with the MERLOT project overall and have any connections to higher education, you need to check it out. According to the project’s about page:

MERLOT is a leading edge, user-centered, searchable collection of peer reviewed and selected higher education, online learning materials, catalogued by registered members and a set of faculty development support services. MERLOT’s vision is to be a premiere online community where faculty, staff, and students from around the world share their learning materials and pedagogy.

One of the people I met yesterday at the Oklahoma Creativity Project‘s monthly Education Committee meeting is Dr. Phil Moss, who is connected to the MERLOT project and works here in Norman. Dr. Moss served as the Interim Chancellor for Higher Education for the Oklahoma State Regents from June 2006 through January 2007. He is currently the Director of Educational Partnerships and Planning for MERLOT.

I’m looking forward to learning more about MERLOT in the weeks ahead and appreciate the facilitative role they’ve taken on through their Virtual Speakers Bureau. I plan to register later in the fall in the CILC Content Provider Programs database also. The CILC is another fantastic resource to definitely check out if you’re looking for videoconferencing options or offering / willing to offer videoconferencing content and collaboration opportunities in the future.

Our adventures with blended learning are just beginning! 🙂

Addition: On the subject of videoconferencing, check out Robin Good’s post “Best Video Conferencing Tools That Anyone Can Use.” (Nod to Larry Kless.) Robin used the website tablefy to create the following comparative table of tools, which is both helpful from a content-perspective and notable from a tool perspective.

go to the table!

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