Your students can now time travel…using Digital Cultural Heritage!

Published by Nikki Medanovic on

With a re-run of our Digital Cultural Heritage MOOC already underway, we wanted to explore: what is exactly digital cultural heritage and how can you integrate it into the classroom? Our colleagues with Europeana, the partner organization behind the course, explain how far Europe has gotten in process in digitizing cultural heritage and how it is relevant for the classroom.  

Before digital cultural heritage, there was cultural heritage. Cultural heritage, generally, is the passing down of beliefs, lifestyles and traditions through tangible objects; like what you could find in a museum.  Since 2008, Europe has been working on bringing cultural heritage to the digital sphere to give more people greater access.  

Isabel Crespo, cultural and education program development professional, describes the process as “revolutionary”, saying that digitizing cultural heritage enables “endless democratic and participatory ways of accessing and experiencing culture”. No longer are we confined by our ability to access a museum or a cultural site. 

Marco Neves, teacher and one of the MOOC’s moderators, says that digital cultural heritage  can bring great benefits to the classroom; especially the accessibility it brings, when going to a museum might not be an option due to the pandemic. And instead of presenting students with decontextualized information, students can take an active role in their learning. He assures teachers that they can integrate it in their classroom , regardless of the age of the students or the subject.  

“With digital cultural heritage, students travel in and with history, becoming more critical and active in their learning process. This is a valuable experience in their perception of the past and how they can project it into their future.” 

Marco Neves

Educators can integrate digital cultural heritage while still covering crucial skills such as research, collaboration and communication. Lessons plans can incorporate project-based learning, inquiry-based learning and discovery. This is also a great opportunity to teach students about the importance of copyright.  

Here is an example Neves recalled of a successful use of digital cultural heritage in the classroom: 

Being a computer science teacher, the use and integration of digital cultural heritage is useful when we want to contextualize a technology or event that had different impacts and we want to know why.  For example, when approaching the issue of Artificial Intelligence, using digital cultural heritage can take us to Alan Turing in 1950. In an extraordinary document he wrote, for the first time he questions: Can machines think? Despite his very important role in computer science and his importance as a historical figure in the Second World War, he was mistreated by society. That also leads us to address the issue of tolerance and respect for others. 

If you’d like to learn more about digital cultural heritage and its educational benefits, you are still on time to participate in our MOOC.  

Take a look at sample lessons plans with digital cultural heritage.

Digital Education with cultural heritage
This course offers strategies for educators who want to implement digital technologies and explore cultural heritage within their classroom. Starts Monday 7 February 2022.


Nikki Medanovic

Nikki is a Communications Intern with European Schoolnet Academy.