Building Communities for Educators Through Local Communities: TIEC’s Collaboration With MERLOT And SkillsCommons

By Gerry Hanley, Ph.D.

In May of 2021, the TIEC and MERLOT-SkillsCommons teams signed an agreement to work together and empower teachers and learners around the world to build the human potential of their communities through education. MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Education) has been providing a free and open library to online instructional resources since 1997, with over 95,000 materials across all academic disciplines immediately available to anyone with internet access. MERLOT’s SmartSearch also simultaneously searches over 75 other open libraries, enabling anyone to find free and open educational resources on just about any topic. SkillsCommons is also a free and open library of online resources for workforce development across a wide range of industry sectors.

SkillsCommons leveraged the $1.9 Billion investment in over 700 U.S. community colleges building their capacities to deliver career and technical education by creating the national repository of all the grant-funded instructional and program support materials produced as open educational resources (OER). Between these two free and open online libraries that continually grow their collections, we can provide a cornerstone of free content for educational initiatives around the world.

But without leadership supporting educational initiatives, the free and open libraries become just another website taking up storage capacities someplace on the web. TIEC provides that facilitation and leadership for communities worldwide and through our partnership, together we empower local teachers and learners to develop their community’s potential. Whether it is Jordanians looking to build their communities’ language skills, or Iraqis looking to build their communities’ workforce skills, together TIEC and MERLOT-SkillsCommons can provide sustained support for local leaders to continuously have access to the educational resources they need.

MERLOT and SkillsCommons also provide a large free and open collection of Open Educational Practices. Open Educational Practices capture the “know-how” for implementing education. You can have all the ingredients or educational resources you might need to support online education during COVID but without the guidance and know-how to organize the scope and sequence of content into pedagogically sound learning experiences, you won’t impact education. MERLOT-SkillsCommons’ Open Educational Practices portal has over 1,000 ePortfolios by faculty and institutions explaining how and why they adopted OER, redesigned their courses with innovative pedagogies and technologies, adopted virtual labs, revised and remixed OER, and more.

In close partnership with TIEC, MERLOT-SkillsCommons is providing free workshops-webinars to TIEC partners around the world about how to use MERLOT and SkillsCommons for their own communities’ institutional needs. By providing both the instructional resources as well as the instructional know-how, we are empowering people to lead their educational initiatives aligned with their goals, principles, priorities, and people.

MERLOT-SkillsCommons also offers Open Educational Services, which are free and open tools and technologies that people and organizations can use to open learning to all. MERLOT’s Content Builder tool is a website authoring tool that enables MERLOT members to remix images, text, videos, websites, and other content to create their own OER and OER Portals. TIEC and MERLOT-SkillsCommons have collaborated to create the TIEC Open Educational Services portal to help prepare teachers and students for teaching and learning online. The TIEC portal provides easy access to free and open educational resources and practices that can be adopted, along with Google’s translation tool that can quickly translate the website into over 70 languages.

Together, MERLOT-SkillsCommons and TIEC share a common vision, mission, and passion for empowering educators within local communities. With partners around the world, we can collaboratively co-create a better world, together.

About The Author:

Gerry Hanley Ph.D. is the Executive Director of MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, and SkillsCommons ( which are free and open digital libraries of academic and workforce development teaching, learning, and training resources administered at California State University Long Beach.  At CSULB, Gerry is also the Director of the Center for Usability in Design and Accessibility and Professor Emeritus of Psychology; he teaches Human Factors, conducts research, and leads projects for industry, education, and government agencies.  Gerry’s previous positions included Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Technology Services at the CSU Office of the Chancellor (2000-2019) and director of faculty development, and director of strategy planning at the CSU Long Beach campus (1993-2000) where he began his academic career in 1984.    He received his BA, MA, and PhD from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in Experimental/Cognitive Psychology.