What is DigitalLearn.org?

The Public Library Association's site, DigitalLearn.org, is an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant-funded project to create an online hub for digital literacy support and training. The site launched in June 2013 and is intended to build upon and foster the work of libraries and community organizations as they work to increase digital literacy across the nation. DigitalLearn.org was originally undertaken in partnership with ALA's Office of Information Technology Policy and Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, along with representatives from national agencies, state libraries, public libraries, community organizations, and many others.

Included in DigitalLearn.org is a collection of self-directed tutorials for end-users to increase their digital literacy. Feedback from public library staff directed PLA to develop courses on the most basic skills, such as using a computer, navigating a web site, and searching. Modules are video-based with narration, 6 to 22 minutes long, written in plain language (communication learners can understand the first time they hear or read it), and often at an elementary to middle school reading level. The modules help learners practice basic skills like using a mouse, creating an email address, navigating a website and more. Once learners have practiced the basics, they can move on to more specific topics to help them apply for a job, be productive, connect with friends and family, and to stay safe online. Intermediate courses include searching online for quality health information, using Microsoft Word, applying for jobs and much more! DigitalLearn.org provides intentional, foundational instruction to be taken at the pace of the learner. DigitalLearn.org courses can also be adapted to support other teaching methods, including instructor-led classroom instruction and just-in-time individual assistance.

In 2016, a new updated version of DigitalLearn.org launched in partnership with the Chicago Public Library. This partnership brought new functionality to the site, including the ability to stand up custom sites for organizations like the Chicago Public Library.

There is plenty in store for DigitalLearn.org in 2018 as well! PLA is working with the newly formed Digital Literacy Committee to identify numerous new course topics to add during the year. In addition, PLA is also planning on expanding its support to libraries with personalized DigitalLearn.org sites, including by providing customized analytical reports related to site usage, integrating Project Outcome with sites which will make it possible to assess and evaluate the site's effectiveness on improving the digital literacy of users, and also by developing additional templates that will more easily allow libraries to create new course content.

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Get DigitalLearn.org for Your Library

You can leverage PLA's premier digital literacy training site to empower the digital skills trainers in your library and the learners in your community by working with PLA to set up a DigitalLearn site for your library. Libraries that set up their own DigitalLearn sites get a branded digital literacy training web site, accessible to patrons at any time, that shows the library is providing digital literacy training as a service. The site can include any of DigitalLearn.org's growing collection of courses as well as custom course and page content from the library. Participating libraries can track and demonstrate impact through learner analytics, and learners visiting your library's site can create and personalize their course lists, tailor content through a course recommendation tool, track progress and receive certificates for course completions. If you are interested in creating your library's own DigitalLearn site, contact Leighann Wood at PLA via email or phone at 312.280.5867.


Support DigitalLearn.org

Want to support PLA's efforts to strengthen public libraries, community organizations, and the communities they serve? Your donation, volunteer time, or other assistance will help us improve DigitalLearn.org.

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Spread the Word

We want as many people as possible to hear about DigitalLearn.org, so please spread the word through email, facebook, articles, blogs, webinars, conferences, or find your own unique way to let people know about the site. If you would like to have someone from the DigitalLearn team speak at your conference, do a webinar, or anything else to spread the word, contact us and let's see how we can help!


Meet the staff

Barb Macikas, Executive Director of the Public Library Association

barb macikas
Barb has worked in state and national nonprofits all of her career, most related to libraries, because she believes in the power of public libraries to build strong communities. She has spent thirteen years at PLA, three of them as executive director and works with the fantastic staff, board and membership to develop the tools and resources public libraries need to achieve their goals. DigitalLearn.org is one of those resources. Barb also reads, runs, and volunteers, especially for her local humane society.

Scott Allen, MS, Program Manager for the Public Library Association

scott allen
Scott works on DigitalLearn.org, the Legacy grant, family engagement, the PLA Partners program, health-related activity, and other programs. Previously, Scott was the Education Director at PLA. Scott has also served as Executive Director at the Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP), where he initiated new quality improvement and education programs that received national recognition. In his spare time, Scott is trying to run a half marathon in every state and burn thousands of vinyl records he has had since childhood into MP3s.

Leighann Wood, Program Manager for the Public Library Association

Leighann Wood, PLA Program Manager
Leighann works on a variety of special initiatives in PLA's expanding portfolio, including but not limited to digital literacy and PLA's DigitalLearn.org project, family engagement, health literacy, and others. She graduated from the University of Illinois with her MLIS and much of her professional background includes extensive program management experience. In her spare time, she likes to maintain her vegetable garden and houseplants, refine her woodworking skills, listen to podcasts and take her dog Gus to the dog beach.


Project Partners

CKD Technology Partners

CKD Technology Partners
CKD Technology Partners is a dynamic team of strategists, designers, and programmers that create impactful and transformative technology solutions. CKD's strength lies in its ability to develop relationships with clients that go beyond simply creating a product. By working to understanding a client's mission as well as its technology context, CKD is able to create frameworks for both outstanding products and lasting relationships that are dedicated to a client's long-term success.

Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Their grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy

The Office for Information Technology Policy advances ALA's public policy activities by helping secure information technology policies that support and encourage efforts of libraries to ensure access to electronic information resources as a means of upholding the public's right to a free and open information society. It works to ensure a library voice in information policy debates and to promote full and equitable intellectual participation by the public.

ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services

ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services drives activities around three professional issues which collectively support equity and inclusion as fundamental values of the association. Relationships and major initiatives undertaken by the Office across these three issues help ensure the inclusion of diverse perspectives within our profession and association to best position ALA as a trusted, leading advocate for equitable access to library services for all.

Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA)

COSLA logo
COSLA consists of the head of the statewide library development agency in each of the 50 states, several territories, and the District of Columbia. COSLA offers its members mutual support and the opportunity through group action to affect policy of importance to library services and information delivery.

Chicago Public Library Foundation

chicago public library foundation logo
Founded in 1986 by visionary civic leaders including Cindy Pritzker, J. Ira Harris and Marshall Field, the Chicago Public Library Foundation was created to support Chicago Public Library's most innovative programs, its acquisition of technology, and the ongoing development and diversification of its collections. That dynamic idea - of a flexible and responsive institution, designed to partner with Chicago Public Library as it grows and evolves to support the changing needs of its patrons - remains in place today, as the Foundation continues its 30th year. The Chicago Public Library Foundation's support has enabled PLA to turn DigitalLearn.org into a critical component of technology training for many library systems.