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2 minutes to read Posted on Thursday February 4, 2021

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Raul Gomez Hernandez

Raul Gomez Hernandez

Graduate Teaching Assistant , Complutense University of Madrid

#reinventingBeethoven: creativity in education with digital cultural heritage

In 2020, the Europeana Education community ran the #reinventingBeethoven educational challenge to encourage students to explore Beethoven’s life and work on the 250th anniversay of his birth, and to introduce music as a powerful educational tool in the classroom. While the winning projects have already been announced, we take a closer look at some of the entries to explore how the competition encouraged students and teachers to engage with new tools and digitised cultural heritage. 

Four seated Indian musicians play instruments
Indian musicians playing their instruments. Gouache drawing.
Wellcome Collection
United Kingdom

The European Commission’s Digital Action Plan (2021-2027): Resetting education and training for the digital age recognises how important it is for educators to have access to digital educational content and training in digital teaching methods. It looks for educators to be empowered to adopt innovative methods, engage in peer learning and share their experiences. 

Building on this strategic framework and following their 2020 work plan objective to share best practices to encourage innovation and new activities, in October last year the Europeana Education community launched #reinventingBeethoven. This competition invited teachers to introduce Beethoven’s life and work to students and coordinate the creation of a group artwork. It aimed to encourage students’ creativity with cultural heritage resources, and many participants took the opportunity to experiment with digital tools and techniques to create online art, videos and experiences for their entries. Thanks to the efforts of educators and teachers throughout Europe, the challenge proved to be a successful way of fostering innovation in educational activities through cultural heritage. Explore some of these examples below!  

Innovative entries 

One of the most exciting entries to the competition was an infographic timeline which brought together the storytelling around Beethoven’s life told in the Mission Ludwig project, created by Joaquín Alberto Pagador Becerra and assisted by Veronica Gayango Mena, Angel Manuel Correa Cabezas and Silverio Olmedo Alonso from CEIP Juan XXIII in Zafra (Spain). Using the tool and through engaging videos, the group outlines a mystery about Beethoven, which  the audience must solve.

Infographic timeline - Narrativa Mission Ludwig
Joaquín Alberto Pagador Becerra, Veronica Gayango Mena, Angel Manuel Correa Cabezas and Silverio Olmedo Alonso

Another of these inspiring examples was the project 'Zoom with Beethoven', created by Lamia Büşra Yeşil and Özge İnce from the eTwinning Project Bag of Tricks. In this project, students used Zoom to interview a virtual Beethoven and learn more about his life and works. They showed the ability to deal adaptively with online learning during the COVID pandemic.

 Zoom with Beethoven. Lamia Büşra Yeşil and  Özge İnce. CC BY-SA.

One of the most original initiatives was ‘Beethoven 3D’, an element from an interactive project created by teachers Francesca Paola Zaza d’Aulisio and Giovanna Luiso and assisted by Teresita Gravina from the IC Leonardo Da Vinci- Lorenzini in Caserta (Italy). Here, students created a digital animation about what would happen if Ludwig van Beethoven lived today during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beethoven 3D Francesca Paola Zaza d’Aulisio, Giovanna Luiso and Teresita Gravina. CC BY-SA

Mixing traditional teaching techniques and digital tools, the students from Colegio Corazón de María (Gijón, Spain), coordinated by Maria Menendez, created a project called ‘Beethoven, the man who was never a child’. In this creation, the students present a video which uses the children's drawings to illustrate Beethoven’s life and his disabilities. 

In the Happy Birthday Beethoven’s project, Elisabetta Nanni from the IC Rovereto Nord (Rovereto, Italy) coordinated her students to create an interactive exhibition around Beethoven’s life and work using CoSpaces Edu, from Microsoft and a escape room using Thinglink platform in the Beethoven’s Bonn house.

Inspiring educators as well as students 

We were delighted to see that the challenge not only inspired students to engage with the life of Ludwig van Beethoven, but also saw teachers create educational content to further support those taking part. For example, Andreas Galanos, Andreas Roßt and Arjana Blazic, teachers from the eTwinning project Europeana Art 2.0, created a Typatone tool where a melody is played as the Ode to Joy poem is scribed in German and then in English. This could be used to help students learn the words to Ode to Joy, sing together, or take part in other creative activities using music and text. 

Additionally, educator Krešimir Škuljević from Croatia, who participated in #ReinventingBeethoven, wrote a paper titled ‘School of Life and Life and works’ about the competition. The paper explores how students at Vladimir Nazor elementary school developed their creative artwork for the challenge. Students worked individually on several subjects like history, informatics, music, English language and mathematics to build a connection between these disciplines and the life of Ludwig van Beethoven. They also worked together on learning platforms to learn more about the topic and create videos.The paper explores the objectives, the preparation tasks, the education planning and the tools used in the classroom, for other colleagues, who want to recreate the experience, to benefit.

We would like to thank all of the teachers and educators who participated in this challenge for their hard work and efforts to engage their students. We were delighted to see how the competition encouraged students and teachers to explore new digital tools and educational approaches. 

Get involved

If you would like to participate in more educational challenges, discover new competitions, create your own initiatives, and network with educators from around Europe, visit the new Europeana Classroom and join the Europeana Education Community. If you are interested in following a course to explore more ways to bring digital cultural heritage into education, sign up for the Europeana MOOC ‘Digital Education with Cultural Heritage’.