"How to inspire learners with digital culture – Europeana" workshop at ALL DIGITAL Summit 2018

How to inspire learners with digital culture – Europeana workshop was held at ALL DIGITAL Summit in Brussels on October 18th, 2018 by Isabel Crespo from Europeana Foundation. In this blogpost you can read about the workshop and learn how to use Europeana resources in digital competence centres.

About the expert:

Isabel Crespo is the Business Development Coordinator in Education at Europeana Foundation. She develops partnerships with relevant players on the educational market, including ministries of education, industry (digital publishers and app developers) and non-profit (networks and associations) educational organisations.

The workshop:

The aim of the workshop was to present Europeana to educators and e-facilitators and give them some practical ideas on how they can use it in their work.

To warm up and introduce the concept of digital cultural heritage in a practical and fun way, Isabel started with an energiser. She invited participants to go to VanGoYourself and make their own recreation of one of the works of the famous artist. 

The website allows users to recreate a painting with their friends, which is then twinned with the original and can be shared on social media. It is a perfect introductory exercise for any learning activity related to digital cultural heritage. It can be used with any group of learners – instead of just looking at paintings, you can propose to your group to get inside them! Users can choose a painting that is “easy” or a “challenge for a master” to recreate. They can also select paintings using criteria such as 1 person, 3 people, group, pets, romantic, etc.

Workshop participants had 15 mins to choose a painting and recreate it with whatever materials they had at hand, then take a photo of themselves. The photo can be uploaded directly to VanGoYourself and become part of the collection of recreations of each photo.

For the participants who did not want to share their photos on the website, Isabel created a Padlet collection through https://padlet.com, which was shared after the workshop.

What is Europeana?

After this fun creative exercise, Isabel introduced Europeana. Europeana is Europe’s platform for digital cultural heritage. It currently provides free access to 58+ million cultural records coming from 3500+ museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections across Europe. Learners of all ages can find images/text/audio/video/3D content on anything from art, science, history, natural history, fashion and more in over 27 languages. A big part of Europeana’s collections is openly licensed and can be freely reused in educational settings.

Europeana was launched by the President of the European Commission in Nov 2008 and this year celebrates its 10th birthday.

Who is Europeana for?

Europeana is for everyone who wants to explore cultural heritage for work, education or leisure. It is particularly relevant for educators across all subjects, especially arts, history, music, literature, languages; for developers of educational resources (applications, games, MOOCs); students and lifelong learners. 

How to use Europeana?

In the context of the digital revolution and disruptive innovation in education, Europeana Collections are increasingly relevant. Europeana is multilingualfree, open and legally accessible, thus being an asset for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) and CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning). Europeana is considered by students and educators a safe environment with millions of original documents drawn from reliable and trusted sources.

To get started on Europeana, Isabel suggested to check this Guide to using Europeana in education available in 5 languages (EN, FR, ES, IT, PT) with search tips and information on copyright and attribution. For the more technically savvy, it includes information on how to use Europeana’s APIs (Application Programming Interface). Users can search Europeana’s content by colour, people, time period, and topics or explore the curated resources, ranging from curated exhibitions and galleries to thematic collections on ArtMusic, Photography, Migration and more. 

Europeana Education was set up as a dedicated online space to facilitate the use of the digital cultural heritage artefacts available on the main website by educators, students and lifelong learners and support them with innovative tools and educational resources such as publications, apps, thematic datasets, partnerships and more.


Europeana resources for education are diverse and can support all educational levels, from K-12 to higher education and lifelong learning, in formal and non-formal settings. Educators and learners can also train their digital skills through a Transcribathon, an online collaborative tool that allows students to transcribe First World War original documents like diaries or letters and engage more fully with their past.

GIF IT UP is another interesting and fun resource developed by Europeana in collaboration with Giphy. The most interesting and creative gifs using artworks are rewarded.

Why Europeana is a great resource for digital competence centres?

Europeana can help e-facilitators to:

  • Tap into rich, unique and free cultural resources to create engaging learning experiences
  • Have a better understanding of copyright and feel confident in reusing the material for educational purposes
  • Find inspiring examples of how to integrate digital content in their practice
  • Foster the 21st century skills for citizenship, inclusion and employability like media literacy, critical thinking or multicultural understanding

How to design a learning activity with Europeana?

The final part of the workshop was a practical exercise – participants split in groups and had to design a learning activity with digital culture. Isabel gave an inspiring example of an Italian teacher Elena Pezzi, who designed a simple learning activity which went viral. Elena teaches Spanish to Italian students. Her learning activity was connected to the Arcades of the Italian city of Bologna, which are the longest in the world. She asked her students to search for more information on the Arcades and to create a Wikipedia article on this historical monument in both Italian and Spanish (it turned out that until then there was no Wikipedia entry in these languages).

With this example in mind, participants discussed possible learning scenarios suitable for digital competence centres. They had to follow a simple learning activity planning grid:

  • Title
  • Subject (e.g. History, Art)
  • Topic
  • Aim of the lesson
  • Time
  • Activities
  • Pursued skills (learning outcomes).

Participants came up with very interesting ideas. One of those was a learning activity on the topic of Girls in the history of ICT. The activities suggested include finding images or videos of advertisement on ICT dating from the 1970s onwards and analysing the way that girls and women are presented in those images (are they in the role of inventors/active users of ICT, or do they have a rather passive and supportive role?).

Where to find more high-quality online resources?

Europeana features high-quality digital learning resources, such as:

  • Europeana in your classroom: building 21st-century competencies wit..., the first Europeana MOOC. The course aims to improve educators' understanding of Cultural Heritage in order to efficiently integrate digital culture into their practice, regardless of the subject they teach. The course is now closed, but the educational materials remain available.
  • Historiana, an initiative to bring supplementary pan-European resources to history educators and students.
  • Free iTunes U course and Multi-Touch book ‘World War I: A battle of perspectives’.
  • Animals in the Great World: The eBook studies the First World War from the standpoint of the animals that took part in it, using openly licensed resources from the Europeana 1914-18 collection.
  • Inventing Europe, a great resource for STEAM lovers. This website with virtual tours and exhibitions explores the formation of Europe through the lens of science and technological breakthroughs.

Isabel’s presentation for this workshop is also available online.

How to know more?

To find out more and stay updated on Europeana’s activities and new resources, join the Education Community and LinkedIn group. Educators can also contribute to the digital transformation by following #EuropeanaEducation on Twitter or emailing Europeana at reuse@europeana.eu to let the Europeana Team know how they are re-using the digital cultural resources in their educational practice.

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