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Monday, 18 February 2013

The Digital Human Library Blog Is Moving!

The Digital Human Library blog has moved to the Digital Human Library website!  Please visit to continue following the development of this new an exciting resource for teachers that brings the field trip experience into the classroom!

Leigh Cassell
Elementary Teacher, AMDSB
Founder of the Digital Human Library

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The dHL Meets with the Huron County Library Branch Managers

Today the dHL met with the Huron County Branch Managers to discuss how we might work together to bring information about their programs and events into AMDSB schools.

Huron County libraries that register with the dHL will be available to present information about their programs, upcoming events, new books, resources, and other materials for loan to entire schools reaching an audience of several hundred students at a time.  My goal is to invite each library to present two sessions a year, one in the spring, and the other in the fall, which will showcase what each library has to offer students in their communities.

If every public library in Avon Maitland was reaching out to the schools in the communities they service to share information with students about their programs, imagine how many more families might visit the library?  Not only do we hope to educate children about what their public libraries have to offer, we hope to bring more children and their families together to explore, learn, and have fun.

Leigh Cassell
Elementary Teacher, AMDSB
Founder of the Digital Human Library

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Please help me promote my newest campaign to raise funds to purchase a class set of iPad2's for my students!  Information about my campaign can be found here

I am asking my followers to tweet, post a message on Facebook and/or LinkedIn, and use social media to help me spread the word.  And, if you would like to make a contribution, please visit

Thank you again for your support!  Together we can provide students with the education they need to be successful in the 21st century.

Leigh Cassell
Elementary Teacher, AMDSB
Founder of the Digital Human Library

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Education and Employment: Are We Doing Enough?

Earlier this week I was contacted by Jim Gilchrist, President of CAES - Career Advancement Employment Services who shared a very interesting report with me published by McKinsey and Company entitled Education and Employment.  The premise of the report is that there is a disconnect between employers, graduates, and educators. Beyond technical capability, new graduates lack the "soft skills" that many employers desire, and educators are failing to address this issue due to the lack of focus on employment preparation. It suggests that, unless educators make changes to help supply what many students really want - jobs, they could be seeing even more declining enrollment.  Hmmm . . .

The article is a very interesting read, and from an educator's point of view it does make me question how we prepare our students to enter the workforce.  As teachers we are responsible for all kinds of learning. We provide each individual student with a variety of ways to learn the curriculum, by matching what we teach with how they learn. We promote critical thinking and problem solving.  Model good citizenship and build character.  Teachers foster an environment of collaborative learning, and provide students with opportunities to extend their thinking beyond the walls of the classroom.  And although all of these skills contribute a student's success in the job market, according to McKinsey and Company, it's not enough.

This is not the first time I have read an article or discussed the disconnect between employers, graduates, and educators. Just now I googled "Are graduates prepared to enter the workforce?" and after taking some time to read through page after page of reports with titles like "The Ill-Prepared Workforce", and "Canada's Crisis in Advanced Skills",  it's time to start making some changes.

But this isn't just a job for my post-secondary colleagues as many of the articles suggest. Elementary and secondary educators also have a responsibility to lay the foundation so students are prepared to build upon those skills by the time they reach college or university. So where do we begin? 

Well, connecting with experts from the Digital Human Library is a good place to start.  By providing students with opportunities to connect with experts in a wide range of fields, students learn about the variety of job opportunities that await them upon graduation. These experiences will help students make more informed decisions about the kinds of jobs that might interest them in the future.

Digital Human Library connections also give students the opportunity to ask dHL experts questions, not only about what they are learning in the classroom, but about how that learning is applied in the workplace. At the secondary level virtual visits with dHL members could specifically focus on those kinds of "soft skills" students will need in order to be successful.

And this is where CAES has also offered their help.  Here is an organization committed to reducing the gap between graduates and employers by reaching out to students and adapting some of their programs to address specific needs; such as helping new graduates to understand and develop their “soft skills” in order to better prepare them for employment and to more effectively present themselves to employers.  If there is an opportunity to bring the programs offered by CAES to teachers and students via the Digital Human Library, we would have access to even more experts who are trained to help our students succeed.  Hmmm . . .

I hope you will consider initiating these conversations between dHL experts and your students. It's through these collaborations that students will begin to make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and how it really applies in the world of work, and we are providing our students with opportunities to develop those "soft skills" they seem to be lacking in today's job market.
Let's face it, videoconferencing is cool.  The kids love it.  And teachers get some free PD from the experts.  It's a win-win for everyone!

Oh, and the best part is, we are providing our students with the skills they need now, to be successful in the future.

Leigh Cassell
Elementary Teacher, AMDSB
Founder of the Digital Human Library

Canadian Library Association National Conference 2013

I just received word that the Digital Human Library has been invited to present at the annual Canadian Library Association National Conference and Trade Show in Winnipeg, Manitoba on May 29th - June 1st, 2013.

The Canadian Library Association/ Association Canadienne des Bibliothèques is the national public voice for Canada`s library communities. The CLA believes in the true value of libraries and free universal access to information. Diversity is a major strength or their association, and they work to inspire and support learning while strengthening the library community.

Presenting at the CLA Conference will be a great opportunity for the dHL to establish new relationships with other library professionals, and reconnect with colleagues in the library community!  

Leigh Cassell
Elementary Teacher, AMDSB
Founder of the Digital Human Library

Thursday, 29 November 2012

It's Been An Exciting Few Weeks!

So here's the exciting news!  In the last few weeks the Digital Human Library has grown to include Oregon Caves National Monument, Bamfield Marine Sciences CenterOntario Science Center, and the Biosphere, Environment Museum.  Each of these unique organizations is now offering a variety of STEM educational programs via videoconferencing for Canadian students. To learn more about the newest dHL members, and how you can get involved visit

And I'm still working on the list I posted a few weeks ago for the New Year. If you missed it, here it is again!  The organizations in bold have recently joined the dHL.  Organizations in italics have expressed interest.


Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Dairy Farmers of Ontario
Everdale Organic Farm and Environmental Learning Centre

Canadian National Parks:
Alberta Tourism Parks and Recreation
Cypress Hill Provincial Park, Alberta & Saskatchewan

Royal Ontario Museum

Publishing Companies:
Penguin Books Speakers' Bureau

U.S. National Parks:
Biscayne National Park, Florida
Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado
Death Valley National Park, California
Everglades National Park, Florida
Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Washington DC
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Oregon Caves National Monument, Oregon

More great things to come!

Leigh Cassell

Elementary Teacher, AMDSB
Founder of the Digital Human Library

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is currently testing its Distance Learning Pilot Program in an effort to determine if there is a need for internet based video conference programming in grades K-12. The programs provided in this pilot test incorporate multiple biological and environmental concepts all which correlate with grade specific curriculum standards.  During the duration of this testing period all distance learning programs will be provided free of charge provided that the academic institution has the proper video conferencing equipment on hand.   Attached to this post is a short survey inquiring about your schools current use of video conference technology as an educational aid, as well as the desire or need for programs such as ours to be added to your curriculum.  Please email any questions, comments, and completed surveys to .  Your help in determining the need for programming such as this is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time and consideration!
Also attached are some brief descriptions of the program topics being offered, but the experts at the Toronto Zoo are available to create customized programming as well.  The expertise of the Toronto Zoo Education Department revolves around the inner workings of ecology and environmental education at a K-8 grade level.  If it is found in nature, they can find a way teach about it.  Login or Register with the Digital Human Library and book your virtual visit to the Toronto Zoo today!
Distance Learning Pilot Program Duration:
November 1st, 2012 – December 21st, 2012
Monday - Friday  (All programs must be booked two weeks in advance)

Leigh Cassell
Elementary Teacher, AMDSB
Founder of the Digital Human Library