Loretta Driskel, an instructional designer in the integrated energy program at Colorado Mountain College’s Rifle campus, was honored with the MERLOT “peer reviewer extraordinaire” award for her work on peer reviewing educational online materials.
MERLOT stands for multimedia educational resources for learning and online teaching. It is an international initiative that enables faculty to integrate technology into higher education. It does this through incorporating an online community that finds and reviews high-quality, web-based, interactive teaching and learning materials.
Driskel, a MERLOT peer reviewer for five years, said, “This award is really relevant to me as an instructional designer because it helps me to stay up-to-date on what is good and effective on the web.”
The MERLOT (www.merlot.org) website is like “Google for teachers,” she said, a collection of online materials including websites, videos and online books. For example, an instructor can search for “World War II” on MERLOT’s website and find reviewed websites and online materials for a class, enabling them to find the best information sources for students.
As a peer reviewer, Driskel donates her time to review the online material for quality, effectiveness and ease of use as an educational resource on MERLOT’s website, which then translates into a ranking system on the website Driskel pointed out that the first source that comes up when searching for “World War II” is “Poster Art from World War II,” a website from the National Archives and Records Administration. The site received a four-star ranking from MERLOT’s peer reviewers, indicating it was a high-quality educational source, she said.
MERLOT’s goal for their online database 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.
To qualify for the award, Driskel had to complete a MERLOT training course and conduct at least 10 peer reviews during a nine-month period. She is one of 25 recipients from more than 100,000 members across the nation. In addition, Driskel has been named to MERLOT’s teacher education editorial board, which does an initial review of online materials before they’re sent on to peer reviewers.