Connecting the Classroom through Innovative Online Learning at the Digital Human Library
In 2011, Leigh Cassell created the Digital Human Library (dHL) out of a desire to connect her students to the global community around them. This free repository is available to K-12 educators around the world and allows them to bring the cultures, experiences, stories and expertise of the global community into their classrooms.
The dHL's evolution is fascinating. “At that time providing experiences outside of the classroom was challenging," says Cassell. "It encompassed the cost of booking a bus, and travelling great distances.” To get around these challenges, Cassell started experimenting with video conferencing and quickly discovered how far she could take her students online. She shared a map of the world with them and explained that they could explore anywhere in the world using technology. As they began connecting with students and classrooms via Skype and Google Hangout, Cassell began to see possibilities of enhancing all areas of the curriculum.
Cassell's students video conferenced with schools around the world including locations in Iceland, the Cayman Islands, and Colombia to inquire and learn more about global communities. As Cassell’s collection of classrooms and experts grew, she began thinking, "This is far too good to keep to myself!" and the Digital Human Library was born.
The mission of the dHL is to deliver authentic experiential opportunities to students from kindergarten to grade 12 across Canada. This is all done within the context of the organization's values which includes responsiveness and awareness, accessibility, diversity, literacy and lifelong learning, innovation and accountability. These values also reflect Ontario’s direction towards building 21st century/global competencies in our students and developing inquiring minds.