dHL Project Proposal

My name is Leigh Cassell and I am an elementary school teacher with the Avon Maitland District School Board (AMDSB).  I would like to introduce you to a new and exciting resource being created for the students and teachers in the AMDSB called, The Digital Human Library (dHL).  The dHL is an online database of people in our communities and around the world who have agreed to share their expertise and skills with teachers and students in their classrooms using free video conferencing software (Skype).  As the registry of dHL participants continues to grow, and web site design begins, we are now actively seeking funding to ensure the future development of the dHL.  In return, the dHL will give credit to the sponsoring organization in all publicity as our primary sponsor.  
Preparing students to enter a global society is a challenging task for all teachers, but essential to student success.  As teachers learn new ways to build the meaningful use of technology into their classroom programs, they are also faced with the challenge of using that technology effectively to engage students, and further their academic progress. The purpose of the Digital Human Library is to (1) provide students with 21st century learning opportunities by integrating information and communication technology (ICT) into the classroom program to improve educational achievement, enrich curriculum experiences, stimulate student interest and curiousity, and increase student engagement and participation; (2) emphasize cross-curriculur learning and integrated learning by helping students to make connections across all areas of the curriculum, and to the world beyond the school, with a focus on how this knowledge will affect their lives; (3) support and communicate student learning by connecting with people in local communities and abroad, bringing the global community into the classroom to meet diverse student needs; (4) strengthen the relationship between communities and schools by involving parents and community members in student learning to improve student performance and achievement; and (5) provide a new instructional resource for teachers to support their teaching in all areas of the curriculum, by offering students unlimited access to “guest speakers, as well as visits to local museums, archaeological digs, geographic features, art galleries, and festivals” without the added expense of transportation and admission costs (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2004), therefore, establishing a more inclusive and equitable learning and teaching experience for all.
The “more opportunities students are given to relate their knowledge and skills in all subject areas to wider contexts, both across the curriculum and in the world beyond the school, the more students will be motivated to learn and to become lifelong learners” (Ontario Ministry of Education Curriculum Documents, 1998 – 2009).
Students using the Digital Human Library will engage in 21st century social learning which is supported through conversation and collaborative inquiry with dHL participants. Many of our students are motivated users of ICT in its’ various forms, so incorporating the dHL into our classroom programs provides students with (1) a safe environment to explore ICT; (2) access to experts in all curriculum subject areas; and (3) opportunities to communicate their learning, share their knowledge, experiences and worldviews with people in their own communities and abraod, bringing the local and global community into the classroom.  In other words, students gain a sense of connectedness to the global society in which they live which motivates them to seek out new opportunities for academic learning both in and out of the classroom.  As they engage in interactive tasks which stimulate their interests, there is an increase in student engagment and participation, which also improves the classroom learning environment, promoting greater enjoyment of academic learning, and improved academic success. 
The Digital Human Library brings the field trip experience into the classroom with the potential to reach over 20,000 students in the Avon Maitland District School Board.  Anticipating the contiued success of the dHL, students in every Ontario school board could have access to this exciting new resource.  The possibilities are endless . . .
The success of the Digital Human Library depends on the generousity of your support.  By collaborating with experts in the local and global community to support student learning and achievement, we can engage in collaborative instructional leadership to build and strengthen partnerships between the school and community to enhance learning opportunities for students, as well as incorporate 21st century content, global perspectives, learning skills, resources, and technologies into teaching and learning, and create/ provide resources for students that are relevant, current, accessible and inclusive. 
Thank you for you interest and I hope you will consider supporting the Digital Human Library project.  I would really appreciate the opportunity to discuss the Digital Human Library with you in more detail, as well as the ways in which you could become more involved in this exciting new resource.  Please contact me by email at your convenience.
Leigh Cassell
Elementary Teacher
Avon Maitland District School Board

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