Implementation of “Sustainable Future 4 European Heritage” (SOI-GR-340)

Author: Christina Fotiou, Secondary School Teacher

School/Organization: 2nd Lower Secondary School of Serres, Greece

This is a story of implementation of the learning scenario “Sustainable Future 4 European Heritage” (LS-EN-CUR-476). Geography lessons include the study of citizens’ lifestyles in different European countries and how the physical environment, i.e mountains, sea, rivers, climate etc. and also technology, affects their living in differing landscapes. The innovative aspect of this study is the use of ArcGIS StoryMaps to create stories of the evolution of human civilization in modern ages, due to technological and infrastructure development, with the contribution of the Europeana Cultural database. Students searched, discovered, experienced and exchanged ideas through Europeana, created story maps and envisioned the future of Sustainable Europe.

Sustainability in European Countries through ages
This story was carried out at the lessons of Geography by 25 students of the age group 13-14 in an urban Junior High School of Greece. The students searched in Europeana to find photo and audio material, they compared digital material from the past and present in order to study the human impact of development on environment, rural and urban, and also on cultural heritage. With the aim of digital tools, they created their online ArcGIS StoryMaps. They had no familiarity with arts and digital heritage databases, therefore it was the first attempt to connect Geography lessons with digital heritage and digital tools. The students had enthusiasm and were keen on working and collaborating on this project, since they felt as a part of a European community and also as little researchers.


In the first part of the activity, students were divided into 6 groups, digital material (photos and video) posted on a padlet wall and brainstorming techniques were applied in order to discuss the 17 Goals of Sustainable Development by UN. A wordcloud, and a google form quiz was created to collect student ideas about human impact on environment and heritage. (1 school hour)

In the next lesson, photos from Europeana relative to their project were cut into smaller pieces and given to students to puzzle them, so as to discuss the theme of their project. Students were informed about their projects and tasks that should follow. They were introduced into the world of Europeana and taught how to search for the appropriate material. (1 school hour)
In our last session, students went to the computer room of the school, and searched for digital material both in Europeana and through the internet. ArcGIS StoryMaps online tool was also introduced, to start carrying out their projects. (1 school hour)

Students collaborated in groups and completed their work  asynchronously according to deadlines. Throughout the project the role of the teacher was always supportive and available to assist the students in all tasks of the project, via physical presence or email.


A number of diverse projects were followed up, so as to investigate the human impact on various scenes and directions.

How Paris architecture developed through time, emphasizing on cultural heritage, the introduction of innovative infrastructure, such as bridges and renewable energy to improve the quality of life in Denmark,  the introduction of technological applications affecting the physical and energy landscape in Greece, the genesis of winter destinations in Europe, the case of Alps, and summer destinations in Greece, the case of the Aegean islands, and finally the urbanization of Greek metropolises and their cultural heritage, the example of Athens and Thessaloniki.

Presentation and evaluation

At the last stage of the project, when students had finally completed their projects, their ArcGIS story maps were evaluated and then presented in the computer lab. To evaluate the procedure and the learning outcomes students in teams played a quizizz game, and everybody was happy. (1 hour)

Multi-tasking with the aim of digital databases and tools 

Students re-evaluated the importance of digital databases, such as Europeana, since at the beginning of the project, they weren’t positive enough to use “complicated”, as they believed, databases to search for photographic material for their projects. They also came in front of multiple tasks and ideas that demanded a holistic approach of human impact on the physical and cultural environment. They also learned to use very up to date geograpic tools, such as ArcGIS StoryMaps, and to create in teams their own projects. Europeana provided them with valuable material about the past, whereas they also searched for information about contemporary human activity that  changed the environment, the cultural heritage, the tourism and broadly the human living conditions. 

Value of Sustainable Development

They also understood the meaning of Sustainability. They were concerned about the impact of climate change on humans and the environment. They believe that the infrastructure has made human living easier, but can have a negative impact on the environment. and the importance of preserving the Cultural Heritage, so as to highlight national and international/European history as a manner to connect people from differing cultures in peace.

Students envisaged a future of Sustainable Development with low impact on physical environment and Cultural Heritage. 

Teacher advice

As advice for the implementation of the story, the teachers probably should have already taught about the differences in the landscape, climate and human activity of the geographic areas that are going to work at, before starting the project. 

European digital learning material 

Europeana bursts open as a very valuable dynamic database for educational use. It is easy to use, very well organized with diverse material that can apply in many studies. It has a potential of connecting students, and teachers living in Europe through stories and digital European Cultural and Heritage material.

The learning scenarios and implementation stories are a valuable tool for teaching without using stagnant student’s book material, opening a window to art, history, photography, culture, geography, science etc. Through Europeana, we document the reality of Europe. Seeing the world literally, is a piece of art.

Photos used in Quizizz game

Barcelona Seen from Vallvidrera, Regoyos, Darío de, National Museum of Art of Catalonia, Spain, CC BY-NC-ND

Thera Santorini, Morgan Charles and Janet, The American School of Classical Studies of Athens, Blegen Library Archives, CC – BY – NC- ND

Automobiel op een bergweg langs de Tinée in de Alpes-Maritimes, Rijksmuseum, The Netherlands, Public Domain

Photos applied for puzzling

Public works hydraulic – drainage, Digital Archive of Eleftherios Venizelos, 1932 Greece, CC-BY-NC

Santorini, Ort und Küste vom Schiff aus Glas in Swarzweiss, quer, Tegtmeier August, Deutsche Fotothek, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, Germany, In copyright, Educational use permitted

Alpes Berno-Valaisanes. Glacier d’Aletsch, Braun Adolphe, Museum of Arts and Crafts, Hamburg, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, CCO 

Shiffe auf der Seine bei Paris, Franz Blum, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Kulturpool, Wien, Austria, CC-BY-SA

Skånesnipa. …[]. Stranden mot Öresund. Skåne, Malmöhus län, Råå, Nilsson Nils, National Maritime Museum, Sjöhistoriska museet, Sweden, Public Domain

Südöstliche Ansicht der Acropolis, Vue du Sud-Est de l’Acropolis, Schilbach Johann Heinrich, Hübsch Heinrich, Österreichishe Nationalbibliothek, The European Library, Darmstadt, Austria, Public Domain

Coast of Thessaly from Negropont. J. Skene – 43, Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, Evia, Greece, CC, BY-NC

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario? Sustainable Future 4 European Heritage (EN-CUR-476), created by Ljiljana Štanfelj

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Do you want to discover more stories of implementation? Click here.

CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino.

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