A spark of hope in difficult times
In times of mass changes, unthinkable only a few weeks ago, we all need some perspective to be able to endure this ordeal. I found inspiration in the revamped Europeana portal, when discovering a treasure of activities, tools, labs and designing lessons for my students, bearing in mind the new circumstances, since online distance education is now a reality.
Unboxing a GIFT
Teaching ancient history myself, I often use museum websites to motivate my students and trigger critical thinking. When I came across the GIFT box at the Europeana Labs, I was stunned. Ten international museums offering know-how and opensource tools to their visitors. I instantly wondered: can I use it for my classes, especially during my distant courses? So I unboxed the GIFT box… To find design and planning and digital tools, and incredibly stimulating “ways of working”!
Project management revisited
The Design and Planning package provides concrete tools to plan and manage a project, including familiar games organized so as to generate, strengthen, test and capture ideas in any kind of meeting. So why not at schools? They come in print or digital versions, with apps that can be used with a mobile device. Totally innovative and highly recommended if you want to get off the beaten track and challenge your students!
The scenarios are resources for museum stakeholders who want to design new museum experiences, taking up roles in various role plays. What if we put our students in the shoes of a museum curator and ask them to redesign the museum experiences or the products offered to the public during a project in economics in an enjoyable, creative, unique way?
Staying human in a digital world
I moved forward and I felt like Alice in Wonderland! Discovering digital opensource tools in the form of applications and software, including 3D modelling, QR codes, VR experiences and so much more. Words were not enough to describe my surprise. I will only refer to one of these which left me speechless. What emotions do you have when looking at an Edvard Munch’s painting like “the Scream”? Can you imagine being able to collect emotional responses to Munch’s artworks, help audience associate their experiences to the painting and visualise these emotional responses, as part of a museum visit? And what if we followed the same process during a language lesson themed around art to stimulate our students’ motivation?
The “Ways of Working” of the GIFT Box mitigates the dilemma: technology and science, or design and traditional approaches to art? Purpose and People come first! Isn’t that so in any situation? When you have such a toolbox in your hands you might get lost, or not, if you know the reason why you want to pursue a new venture, if you invite collaboration and if you are not afraid of change, innovation and, even, challenging situations. Invaluable pieces of advice for anyone working with groups of people, managing projects, in education settings as well.
Gems of creativity
As I continued scrolling down the apps, games and competitions list, I kept finding gems of knowledge, creativity, and innovation. Let me just mention some highlights, like the Europeana Radio with classical and folk music from its collections, or Cinemacina which takes you on a visual tour through Europeana with images at a large resolution. There is also PICRYL which is a search engine for public domain images, documents, music, and videos. There is no need to go further, as you can explore the rest on your own!
All in all, I felt that the best way to end my quest and capture my feelings at the moment is by quoting my favourite artist, Pablo Picasso, who believed that “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”.
For more resources, tools and tips, you can visit:
You can also read about:
- The new Europeana Collections From a Teacher’s Perspective
- The Europeana Education Competition 2020
- 3 Ways Of Finding Public Domain Items For Your Classroom!