A year ago two things happened to set this project in motion: I started as doctoral student at the University of Helsinki and engaged with a project that would allow me to start my research. The setting was a project [1] that made accessible 100 years of two newspapers in an online porrtal to different education instituitons. Among them an upper-secondary school where I did fieldwork. My task in this project was to learn if and how these materials were suitable for schools and what activities they facilitated.

Now that my work with this project is getting to an end, three main ideas bring me closer to answering some of my research questions: what does cultural heritage mean in the context of schools?, how can digital cultural heritage resources be used in teaching and learning situations?, and how is digital heritage knowledge produced?

1. Cultural heritage is a concept that in school is linked to questions of identity, cultural expressions and objects, our habits, and how this all relates to our place and time. Teachers come up with different variations of this concept when they relate it to the subjects they are teaching: “enough knowledge about the past to understand the present” says a history teacher; “a context to put things into perspective” says a language teacher; “a source of inspiration” for an art teacher, and in religion education a teacher may connect it with “celebrations that change with time and place“. Students add to this concept connecting with it their interests and forms of expression.

2. During this period, two newspapers from 1916 until 2015, were digitised and fully searchable in a public access web portal of the National Library. Among teachers, newspapers are already familiar materials used in their classes; this digital archive was welcomed by some as an addition to an ongoing collection of materials. In turn, the students’ projects show that this kind of digital library allows for undertaking research in their own terms and for interacting both with the content and the mode of presentation.

3. When the institution providing access to the digital materials is absent [2], in the  classroom, the figure of ‘curator’ emerges. In a memory institution, a curator traditionally oversees research, communication and preservation issues in a collection. In schools, this role is taken over by the teachers and the students.

[1] Aviisi project: blogs.helsinki.fi/digiaviisi/external-red
[2] The institution is never gone completely, in this case, the point of access to the newspapers external-red has an architecture and design that allows for search and find situations.
Image: "Situational map" with the main agents in the first case study
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