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2 minutes to read Posted on Friday May 11, 2018

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

European cultural heritage in educational activities on the itslearning learning platform

A Europeana plugin has been added to the itslearning platform, used to create learning resources by teachers around the world.

Itslearning is a cloud-based learning management system used by millions of teachers, learners, carers and others all around the world. One of its unique features is the extensive capability to integrate with content and applications from other sources - such as Finna (Finnish national archives) and Europeana Collections.

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itslearning offers a comprehensive suite of functionality to support teaching and learning, with multiple ways of supporting data flows in and out, and even a growing app library
Copyright (c) 2018 itslearning

In terms of integrating the content, a core area of the itslearning platform is the Library. In the Library, users can create and share educational materials with their school, city, or even globally to all itslearning users. Similarly, commercial vendors and publishers can publish their materials in the Library to their customers.

We are always on the lookout for open educational resources that can bring value to teachers and learners. We strongly believe in the importance of easy access to high-quality content. At its best, a library is a dynamic place for sharing, using and reusing content. To facilitate focussed search,  content can be tagged in various ways, even with learning objectives. For example, you can search for content designed to support learning English at third-grade level. Also, you can rate content and, by doing so, help with further developing the content and search.

Screenshot 1: The itslearning Library is a community of teachers and authors sharing content and learning resources. CC-BY-ND

In 2017, we at itslearning Finland harvested content from the Finnish Finna service, importing thousands and thousands of free-to-use historical photographs, maps and art from the Finnish national archives. They are now readily accessible for all itslearning users, for any content or activity you can create in itslearning.

Screenshot 2: An example of Finna content in the itslearning Library. CC-BY-ND

Then we got in touch with the folks from Europeana. With Europeana, we wanted to provide an easy way to search and use content from the massive Europeana repository.

To this effect, we developed a plugin for the itslearning rich text editor. With this plugin, you can start an image search from wherever you are working, be it an assignment, a test, or a page with engaging content. This search references the live Europeana repository, limited to free-to-use online contents. At the time of writing this, this amounts to a staggering total number of 12 million objects, including  1.7 million photographs and 50,000 postcards.

With a simple click, you can add the selected image into itslearning. Importantly, only free-to-use content is returned, and the rights statement is displayed.

Screenshot 3: The Europeana search plugin in itslearning. CC-BY-ND

These resources are then easily accessible and usable in a pedagogic context. You can, for example, devise an assignment in which the learner has to describe what a picture tells a modern viewer. Or, you can ask learners to search for an image describing a given situation or related to an historic event. Furthermore, you can use the images as visuals in any of the materials you produce in itslearning.

Screenshot 4: An example of Europeana content in an itslearning assignment. CC-BY-ND

The plugin uses the REST-based Search API from Europeana, and the itslearning REST API for plugins. Both APIs are well documented so the core search and storing functionality of the plugin was fast to develop. The plugin is now live in its first version. Any input or improvement suggestions are warmly welcome!

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