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Using the DPLA as an online makerspace for students

2 min read


I’m a library junkie, and lately I’ve been spending time exploring all the items available on the Digital Public Library of America.

The DPLA is a content portal offering millions of free resources from the nation’s libraries, archives and museums in a variety of searchable formats —  timeline, map and topic.

Click on 1990 on the timeline, and you’ll find about 24,000 archived items. Want to know which state has contributed the most items? The map reveals Texas as the frontrunner with 252,000. A quick topic search for “education” yields more than 173,000 results.

This resource brings to mind many ideas for lesson planning, but here’s one that seemed relevant given educators’ growing interest in real-world learning.

Real-world learning

One thing that caught my attention on the website is that the DPLA allows independent developers to use the aggregated metadata to create new apps. Can you say online makerspace for student app developers?

Wouldn’t it be cool to have students create apps using the digitized resources? The site offers an app library where students and educators can go for inspiration, and there are numerous resources inviting and guiding individuals to create new apps.

Have you used the DPLA — or other digital public libraries — in your classroom? If so, let us know how in the comments section.

Melissa Greenwood is SmartBrief’s senior education editor. She has held a variety of positions in the education field, including classroom teacher and editor and writer.