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Posted on Monday July 13, 2020

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

Connecting Formal and Informal Education with Digital Cultural Heritage

This workshop for teachers and museum educators highlighted innovative pedagogical trends and useful tools to create online resources with digital cultural heritage and engage remotely with students. It is also announced Europeana’s plans to strengthen formal and informal education.

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Persian Envoys before the King of Ethiopia
Franciszek Smuglewicz
Lithuanian Art Museum


The workshop ‘Connecting formal and informal education with digital cultural heritage’ was organised by the Europeana Education community (a special interest community of the Europeana Network Association) in partnership with the LEM (Learning Museum Group of NEMO, Network of European Museum Organisations). According to their 2020 work plan, the Europeana Education community aims to strengthen the connection between the cultural heritage and educational sectors by sharing information and best practices, facilitating collaborations at the intersection of cultural heritage institutions and education, promoting the Europeana initiative in events and engaging with new potential members, goals which they aimed to fulfil with the organisation of this workshop. Find out more and join the Europeana Network Association Education Community.

The workshop was divided into different sessions and activities, including presentations about pedagogical trends and innovative projects, breakout sessions where participants shared their experience of  digital culture and distance learning, and practical activities with experts in creating e-learning activities. 

It took place from 13.30 -17.00 CEST on 27 August 2020 and from 8.30 - 12.10 CEST on 28 August 2020.


Explore presentations from the workshop:


  • Prof. Frederik Truyen, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 

  • Margherita Sani, LEM coordinator group at NEMO (Network of European Museum Organisations) and Steering Group member of Europeana Education community.

  • Altheo Valentini, Co-Chair of Europeana Education Community.

  • Isabel Crespo, Manager of the Europeana Education community,

  • Bart Verswijvel, pedagogical adviser and educator from European Schoolnet.

  • Marco Neves, STEM educator and Europeana Teacher Ambassador for DSI-4 Project @EuropeanSchoolnet.

  • Éva Tóth, eTwinning ambassador and Europeana User Group teacher.

  • Emma Abbate, an Europeana teacher community member and teachers’ trainer.

  • Steven Stegers, Executive Director of EUROCLIO (European Association of History Educators).

  • Frank Drauschke, co-founder of Facts & Files.


Museums and schools working online. SWOT analysis Results

This SWOT analysis explored the experience of distance learning from the perspective of museums and schools.


  1. Museums and schools have similar goals and the same target audience. Both are focused on education and transfer of knowledge for children and lifelong learners.
  2. Powerful collaboration. There are regular programmes for schools in local museums.

  3. Complementary resources. Museums provide learning resources to use on demand and digital activities that complement school curricula and reinforce teaching in the classroom.


  1. Culture is not always prioritised.  Citizens cannot always invest enough time for enjoying cultural content and the online audiences reached are sometimes limited.

  2. Education curricula need to be changed towards digital learning.

  3. Museums face challenges in their digital transformation 

  4. School access to digital equipment is unequal. 

  5. Teacher training in digital education is inconsistent (e.g. very time consuming to prepare online material, lack of knowledge of using digital tools).


  1. Distance learning approaches and innovative apps and tools. (e.g. open license and reusable content, curation of learning material and new pedagogies based on gamification).
  2. Digital collections and online learning materials are easily translated and globally accessible
  3. Possibility of joining European programs and interdisciplinary projects (e.g. Erasmus, eTwinning, EUN, EuroClio). 


  1. Unequal access to ICT infrastructures. Increased gap between families and children in regards to access to digital devices and internet connection.
  2. Lack of institutional support, budget shortages.
  3. Lack of confidence in digital tools for museums. Some museum staff are concerned that audiences will lose emotional connections with their collections.

Using your digital collections and digital tools - survey results

A second session explored takeaways from the results of the survey ‘Using your digital collection and digital tools’, which ran from May to June 2020. The survey aimed to understand the training needs of museum educators and how they use digital cultural heritage with students in compulsory education. In this session, participants analysed responses on how to build capacity, how important curricula versus cross-subject topics are (e.g. inclusion and diversity), what challenges educators face in a time of COVID-19 to connect with students, and examples of how to create meaningful education experiences.

Professional training needs

  • Respondents had a preference to be trained online and/or in a blended way in their national language. English is seen as a barrier. 

  • Respondents had a preference for training sessions where a theoretical introduction is followed by practical sessions and concrete case studies and a broader view of the digital tools options available.

  • Respondents need to know how to work in an engaging digital environment and how to assess their learners.

Curricula vs cross-subject topics (e.g.inclusion and diversity) 

  • Cross-subject topics allow us to introduce different points of view, although for some teachers it is still difficult to move away from traditional teaching and curricular approaches.

  • To implement interdisciplinary programmes, teachers agree they should be empowered with cooperative teaching skills enhancing the collaboration among educational and cultural organisations to get access to new material and resources and digital collections.

Challenges under COVID-19 to connect with students

  • Students’ lack of ability to use digital tools like email 

  • Difficult access to a high quality internet connection for students and families.

  • Teachers’ lack of digital tools, training in digital skills and the attitude from some teachers towards technology.

  • Museums’ online collections not properly up-to-date.

Creating meaningful education experiences with digitised cultural heritage

  • Cultural heritage institutions have great challenges still to create learning experiences with digital cultural heritage.

  • Some good practices from Italian teachers and museum educators:

    1. Metamuseo Girovago 

    2. Officine DigitalArch.

Comments from workshop participants

  • ‘I learned how to use new ICT tools, how to make gifs and how to use Europeana resources in a fun way.’

  • ‘Great workshop, easy to participate. Do it again.’

  • ‘Thanks for the advice and all the nice hints. Good job!’

  • ‘It was a pity we were not able to have the workshop in person. Otherwise, it was great to learn about new tools and different perspectives in regard to education during Covid-19 pandemic.’