I was engaged the moment I read, “Digital Human Library”, on the cover of the Fall 2014 issue of ETFO’s Voice magazine. After devouring the article written by Leigh Cassell, it was clear that I would be pursuing videoconferencing as a way of bringing experts into our brand new school library. The timing couldn’t have been better – shortly after reading the article, I attended Leigh’s Digital Human Library session at the Educational Computing Conference of Ontario (ECOO) in Niagara Falls. After the session, a friend of mine and I chatted with Leigh about how we could best evangelize to other school teacher-librarians about this powerful resource for students and teachers. We agreed that the Upper Grand District School Board’s annual “Ideashop” for Teacher-Librarians would be the best venue. So in April 2015, Leigh was the keynote speaker to a large group of UGDSB teacher-librarians – sharing her message about the ease and virtues of video conferencing with experts, and other classrooms around the world. It was very energizing.
After meeting Leigh, in November, I signed up for a DHL account. I then sent Leigh an email requesting recommended biomes experts for a grade 5/6 class. After following up on Leigh’s suggestions, our class engaged in three lively videoconferences with a Trent University professor, a Queens University Professor, and a North Carolina Zoo Educator. These experts shared their photographs, slideshows, and artifacts from the Arctic and the Amazon. Did I mention these were all free? Crazy.
Due to the success of this initial experience, I was inspired to pursue experts for other classes in our school. I’m happy to say that since meeting Leigh, we have hosted 17 videoconferences and livestreamed 4 events with the following experts: university professors, scientists, an engineer, marine biologists, astronomers, authors, botanical garden educator, zoo educator, First Nation classroom-Saskatchewan, and a musician. It was so awesome to hear our students’ questions and the rich, relevant responses from our experts based on their deep level of expertise. In addition to the expertise, students saw and heard diversity from the faces and voices of experts outside of our small town – how wonderful!
How can I thank Leigh for such an inspiring year of learning – not only for our students but for me.
Thank you Leigh for setting up Digital Human Library, for guiding me through the initial use stage, for sharing with the UGDSB teacher-librarians, and for enriching our students and my understanding of world.
Sandra McLarnon, Teacher-Librarian
Spencer Avenue Elementary School
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