Connecting the Classroom through Innovative Online Learning at the Digital Human Library

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Leigh Cassel's class met with Mark McAlistair from the North Carolina Zoo to talk about animals, species, and biodiversity.

How does the dHL Work?


One experience that left a deep impression with Cassell was when her grade 2 students connected with Lakka, a village in Sierra Leone, as a part of their “Communities of the World” unit. Her students exchanged letters and developed an understanding about life, culture, and traditions in the remote village.


The students in the village would walk two hours one way to an Internet cafe in order "meet" with Cassell's class. The following year, when Cassell contacted her friend Alusine to ask about the possibility of collaborating again she discovered that many of the children, parents and community members of Lakka had died as a result of the Ebola virus.


When she shared the devastating news with her students, there were a lot of tears, but the students quickly regrouped and decided that they wanted to send a care package to Lakka, which included pencils, markers, paper and messages for the students. Cassell reflects about the experience on her blog, "I now understand that the application of that learning – empowering students to make a difference in the world – is what teaching and learning is all about. "


Cassel's students met with a group of children from Lakka, Sierra Leone to engage in cross-cultural dialogue.

The impact of the dHL


Over the years, the dHL has impacted students and educators in powerful ways offering opportunities for students to wonder, inquire, research and share. Cassell's hope is to create something uniquely Canadian through the dHL. “There are a lot of great resources world-wide, but educators in Canada need to do a lot of digging in order to find something that is relevant to our Canadian curriculum," says Cassell.


Currently, over 80,000 educators use the dHL annually and 90 per cent of them are Canadian, with the majority being from Ontario. Today, they have access to hundreds of organizations and experts worldwide who deliver interactive, curriculum-based opportunities, and the largest collection of free multi-media virtual tours on the web through the dHL, including 360° panoramas, live cameras, and videos in all curriculum subject areas. It is also her goal to ensure that the dHL remains completely free for educators.


She is excited about the future of the Digital Human Library. With new board members, and a new vision to reach all of Canada, the possibilities are endless. Leigh says, "I would love to see students and tens of thousands of teachers in Ontario using the dHL for learning!"


"The Digital Human Library provides us with unlimited opportunities to connect our kids with others so we can learn with the world, not just about the world," says Cassell.


Questions? Ideas? Comments? Ontario educators can register on TeachOntario and join in more in-depth conversation about this teacher in Share under: TeachOntario Talks Discussions: TeachOntario Talk Discussions: Connecting the Classroom through Innovative Online Learning at the Digital Human Library