DPLA and Education: Findings and Recommendations from our Whiting Study

By DPLA, April 9, 2015.
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During the last nine months, the Digital Public Library of America has been researching educational use with generous support from the Whiting Foundation. We’ve been learning from other online education resource providers in the cultural heritage world and beyond about what they have offered and how teachers and students have responded. We also convened focus groups of instructors in both K-12 and undergraduate higher education to hear about what they use and would like to see from DPLA. Today, we are proud to release our research findings and recommendations for DPLA’s future education work.

Preliminary feedback from educators suggested that DPLA was exciting as a single place to find content but occasionally overwhelming because of the volume of accessible material.  In our focus groups, we learned that educators are eager to incorporate primary sources into instructional activities and independent student research projects, but we can better help them by organizing source highlights topically and giving them robust context. We also discovered how important it was to educators and students to be able to create their own primary-sourced based projects with tools supported by DPLA. From other education projects, including many supported by our Hubs, we learned that sustainable education projects require teacher involvement, deep standards research, and specific outreach strategies. Based on this research, we recommend that DPLA and its teacher advocates build curated content for student use with teacher guidance, and that DPLA use its position at the center of a diverse mix of cultural heritage institutions to continue to facilitate conversations about educational use. We see this report as the beginning of a process of working with our many partners and educators to make large digital collections like DPLA more useful and used.

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