Mar 07 2022
Digital Workspace

K–12 Digital Resource Libraries Continue to Engage Students Returning to In-Person Classes

Students have around-the-clock access to school information, books and more when districts provide online resource collections.

As the name implies, digital resource libraries can provide a wide array of digital resources to students. While some schools stood up these sites in response to the pandemic to give students a central hub of resources for remote learning, others have been using them for much longer.

Karina Quilantán, a library media specialist for the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, took over her school’s online library web page about seven years ago. “I made it a point to include the library’s presence, but some of the things I did back then I don’t do now because technology moves so fast,” she says.

Because the resources are hosted online, digital resource libraries can be updated dynamically, keeping pace with changes to the educational landscape. These sites provide access to e-books and audio books, give students research resources and curate links to digital learning tools students may need at home.

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What Should a Digital Resource Library Include?

A well-organized digital library makes it easy for students, parents and educators to navigate resources for reading and learning. Although many students are back in classrooms, the aggregation of resources pertaining to remote learning can still benefit school districts.

Quilantán shares how her district’s distance-learning page helps new students understand educational technologies. “Whenever I have a new student, who’s maybe never signed into Google Classroom before, this is what I’ll use with them,” she says. “Because I have a lot of emergent bilingual students, I tried to make it simple enough that I can translate the directions for them.”

The distance-learning tips aren’t the only resources aiding her bilingual students. Quilantán also creates videos, which her students prefer because they include demonstrations and because the students can rewatch parts that cover things they might need help with. Schools can create videos and host them on their digital resource libraries as unlisted YouTube videos, rather than hosting them publicly on YouTube.

READ MORE: Educators create videos to facilitate learning in flipped classrooms.

Audio books and e-books also appeal to bilingual students, among others, because they’re frequently available in more languages and have more accessibility features. “Some students prefer a bigger font,” Quilantán says. “If they have their device, they can open an electronic book, expand the text size and change the background color or change the brightness. It’s faster for them to read and get through a book.”

Each of these elements can exist on a district’s digital resource library, giving students digital resources to use beyond remote learning.

How to Set Up a K–12 Digital Resource Library

Schools that don’t already have a digital resource library website or web page in place should ask their IT department for help to get one started.

“The only reason I’ve been successful in providing resources for my students online is because of one thing, and that’s open communication with the technology department,” Quilantán says. “The partnership between the library department and the technology department — who help us unblock sites and help us install apps and send them out to all the devices — that’s what really makes my job more efficient.”

Karina "Q the Librarian" Quilantán
The only reason I’ve been successful in providing resources for my students online is because of one thing, and that’s open communication with the technology department.”

Karina Quilantán Library Media Specialist, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District

Media specialists can work with their IT teams to curate the best digital resources while ensuring that everything they include is safe. When these two departments work together, they can provide meaningful resources for students. Quilantán says she was able to get her students access to Minecraft: Education Edition, which was previously blocked in the district, because she was in open communication with her IT department.

Finally, educators should be sure they’re adding resources that will benefit their students and staff, rather than overwhelming the site with every interesting link, document or application they find.

“Be intentional with the things that you decide to curate,” Quilantán says. “As long as you find at least one or two good tools that have really worked for you and that the kids find easy to use, start small and then expand. Be intentional with what you provide as long as it’s inclusive, relevant, and engaging.”

MORE ON EDTECH: Technology leads the way to equitable education for K–12 students.

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