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Free, online curriculum prepares learners for life and work

This guest post is by Danielle Arnold, School Media Specialist at Belmar (NJ) Elementary School and a Ready to Code library, and Shahla Naimi, Google for Education Program Manager. Danielle and Shahla were part of a panel session at the recent ALA Midwinter meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Earlier this month, ALA members got a taste of Google’s new digital literacy curriculum at their Midwinter Conference in Denver. The curriculum, Applied Digital Skills, uses video-based lessons to help learners create projects with digital applications and is free to everyone. As learners build projects, they practice the new skills they will need for future jobs, as well as other practical skills such as financial literacy, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration. The curriculum includes more than 100 hours of lessons that can be used in a library or classroom, independently or in a group.

At the conference, several librarians shared their experiences using the Applied Digital Skills curriculum in their communities. We heard from Juan Rubio, Digital Media and Learning Program Manager at the Seattle Public Library, who uses the curriculum not only to build his own staff’s digital literacy. Cheryl Eberly, Principal Librarian at the Santa Ana Public Library, shared the different ways she uses the curriculum to help youth develop resumes, search for jobs, plan events and even explore local history.

The curriculum is also already being used in school libraries across the country. Belmar Elementary School’s library uses Applied Digital Skills to teach learners in grades four through eight. As Belmar’s School Media Specialist, I shared at the conference that their learners struggle on group assignments and conducting research using digital resources. I have used the units to help learners improve in these areas.

The If-Then Adventure Stories unit allows my learners to develop interactive projects both independently and in teams. As learners collaborate in shared documents, they are working together to solve problems and motivate each other to stay on track. At Belmar Elementary, we also uses the Research and Develop a Topic unit to help learners conduct research more effectively. One seventh grade ELA teacher described how “learners have a hard time deciphering what is important and should be included, and what is not. They have a tough time putting the research into their own words…” In the unit, my learners identify credible sources, evaluate bias of digital information, write about their research, and get feedback.

We also plan to offer Applied Digital Skills to older learners. According to one technology facilitator, “We will be teaching some of the lessons from the Applied Digital Skills curriculum to our eighth-graders for this first time this semester. Devising real world scenarios that are relevant to the learners while also being able to teach them specific skills is often difficult. I love the format of the lessons and how the learners can follow the prompts, videos, etc. and work at their own pace for all or parts of the lessons.”

These are just a few examples of how librarians and educators are using the new Applied Digital Skills curriculum. By using Applied Digital Skills, libraries and schools can offer learners of all ages free, engaging lessons that teach the essential digital skills they will need for future success.

To start using the curriculum in your own library or school, visit the Applied Digital Skills Getting Started Guide. You can also reach out to the curriculum team at with any questions or ideas.

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Marijke Visser

As of November 2018, District Dispatch is no longer being updated. It is now being archived for future use. Please visit for the latest news.


  1. […] Editor’s note: This guest post is authored by Danielle Arnold, a School Media Specialist at Belmar Elementary School in New Jersey and a Ready to Code librarian. She shared this post, a version of which was originally published here. […]

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