F. Truyen1, S. Taes2

1KU Leuven (BELGIUM)
2KU Leuven - Cultural Studies Digital (BELGIUM)
The availability of high quality open resources like Europeana makes it possible for teachers and educators to develop their own course contents easily. This helps to diversify educational contents, allowing for a faster response to changing thematical needs. Within Europeana we developed several modules or “course capsules” that can be integrated in a lesson. As we realize that teachers have only a limited amount of time available to develop new contents, yet on the other hand are eager to offer something new to their students, we wanted to present a kind of cookbook menus that detail how such contents can be produced easily.

The capsules are mini-lessons developed up to a point where they can be easily converted in a full-fledged class. They aim to address a problem posed by digital repositories to both learners as teachers: the fact that there is such a wealth of information that it is difficult to come to a consistent, well-curated selection of content which allows for a focused story with an educational value. For this, intermediary work is done by professionals from the Europeana network with excellent knowledge of the vast collections.

This is typical for new divisions of labor in educational content creation, where professionals close to the source such as archivists and museum curators will do preparatory work that then can be picked up and refined by actual teachers, who can adapt the contents to the level and needs of their students. By building networks with teacher organizations such as EUN, Europeana wants to bridge these gaps in then educational supply chain, so that there is an access directly from the source to the educators. This should counterbalance an increasing use of Google searches to come to contents, as these have a double risk: first of all, relatively few really new contents and insights reach the surface as this requires the knowledge of specialist terminology. On the other hand, Google’s highly personalized profiling of information means less known collections will have difficulties to surface on top of the searches. In Europeana, on the contrary, we deliver hitherto unpublished highlights from unknown top photographers, materials from e.g. only recently accessible Baltic state archives, ego-documents from WWI front soldiers, otherwise inaccessible fashion collections.

The capsules use the different delivery formats of the thematic collections as starting points to access the content: this can be the search box, a virtual exhibition, a gallery, or browse entry points. In this sense the thematic collection formats take up their role as ideal intermediaries for educational reuse. But it is not only the source contents that come in a diversity of forms. We also developed different teaching delivery formats so as to innovate teaching practice at the same time, using easy to use tools such as Youtube clips, Prezi, Stupeflix and also specifically developed tools like “Tell Your Photostory”.

In the interactive oral presentation we will show one lesson capsule on the War of the Trenches, based on a gallery, and one on the Belle Epoque, sourcing from a range of Europeana assets. We will go through the different “coursification” steps with the audience.