EPICS
E-learning Platform In the Cultural heritage Sector
01/11/2009 - 31/10/2011
Has been initialized

In the EPICS-project research groups, companies, cultural heritage institutions, public libraries and educational organisations join forces to rethink cultural heritage education. Considering the combination of recent digitisations in the cultural heritage sector and the growing impact of digital content and content distribution in the educational domain, the project aims at developing an e-learning platform for digital cultural heritage in Flanders.

To this end, several issues need to be addressed. First of all the digital objects of the cultural heritage domain are not created in accordance with the education system, e.g., teachers use other classification systems than the cultural heritage sector does. Secondly teachers and pupils are increasingly using online platforms for learning. Yet, there is no standard solution to implement digital cultural heritage objects into these platforms. Thirdly digital cultural heritage comes in several forms and formats. Teachers might experience the need to manipulate and recreate content into operational packages. However there are no (re)creation tools available which would allow teachers to adapt and manipulate the content, nor is there a system that allows teachers to share the results of the re-created content (or so-called ‘mash-ups’). What is more, digital cultural heritage content can be distributed in many ways. The combination of distribution in classroom settings (digital boards), in e-learning environments and in mobile contexts (e.g. in a cultural heritage setting by means of mobile devices) could be an excellent example of meaningful and playful learning, but the tools to implement still have to be studied and developed. Lastly the legal aspects of cultural heritage distribution in an educational setting have to be analysed with a specific focus on copyright issues.

The research activities in EPICS are divided in six interrelated work packages, all through which IBBT-SMIT acts as research leader: user research, didactization, platform development, multichannel content creation and distribution, legal aspects, and a demonstrator. In particular, IBBT-SMIT takes the lead in work package 1.



1. The EPICS-project, concerning an educational platform for cultural heritage, aims at the development of innovative modules for the aggregation, didactization, manipulation and distribution of digital cultural heritage content. Not surprisingly the success of the different modules will strongly depend from the ways users appreciate the modules and from the intentions they have to implement them in the learning process. In the EPICS-project the focus is on heritage education. We define two main target groups: teachers and pupils. First of all the use of existing learning and educational platforms will be studied. Secondly the potential use of cultural heritage platforms will be assessed. Eventually the use of these kinds of platforms within a group of pupils will be analysed.

2. The objects offered by the heritage institutions have to be transformed into learning objects. For this the open standard LOM (Learning Objects Metadata) will be used. LOM has many different implementations and application profiles. Thus a new application profile for this use case will have to be provided. Furthermore, these learning objects have to be combined in an open, exchangeable format so they can be used on different learning and educational platforms. The open standard SCORM will play an important role in this process. In order to promote the discovery and reuse of the created learning objects and their combinations the user will be able to tag them.

3. Research activities concerning the EPICS-platform include: a/ the development of a generic community platform architecture that supports searching and retrieving content provided by various information stores and composing this content in mash-ups. These mash-ups will in turn become part of the content provided by the platform to allow for re-use. b/ the provision of a proof-of-concept implementation of the different components of this architecture, in order to allow demonstrating the benefits of such platform. c/ Design and implementation of the various tools needed for efficiently working with this platform: content meta-data creation / adaptation, mash-up creation and editing, mash-up viewing tools etc.

4. EPICS will provide the necessary tools and processing capabilities of content for specific user groups such as “story creators”. A story is a type of narrative or sequence of events and interactions that conveys a specific message to the user. Story creators are users that select content that goes into one module, where the module supports one or more learning goals. A module is a unit of deployment: it is a package or container of learning materials that provides interaction with the end-user and defines a sequence on the events and interactions that occur during usage. The story creator can choose to reuse existing modules and adapt it according to the specific needs, or to create a new module by selecting new content combination with existing modules. This implies a new module should be easy to share and reuse. A module can cover a whole story or represent only a part of a story.

5. The exchange of cultural heritage information amongst different cultural heritage information / content providers can emerge to interesting business models. In terms of the Belgian copyright, the use of original works emerges to what the legislator defines as an “exploitation” requiring the authorization of the right holder. It is clear that there is a increasing strained relation between traditional copyright rules and the technological developments that took place in the last decennium. The challenge is to find an appropriate legal balance again between the interests of both parties (creators, right holders and users) in a web 2.0 cultural heritage e-learning context. This requires a critical analysis of current regulatory steps undertaken on International, European, national and Flemish level, self-regulatory and coregulatory actions which were recently undertaken, recent case law and legal literature providing new perspectives and ideas to open the closed copyright licensing model.

6. The demonstrator will focus on the impact of World War I in a Flemish region strongly affected by the war (Westhoek). Therefore the e-learning platform will aggregate cultural heritage content related to the war. Potential users can test the platform and manipulate and transform the content into operational educational content packages. These packages will be tested in a group of pupils by means of digital presentation in a classroom setting, in an e-learning platform and on mobile devices in an outdoor heritage



As stated, IBBT-SMIT is responsible for work package 1 and acts as research leader throughout the project.

Partners: FARO; VIOE, Museum In Flanders Fields; Erfgoedcel C07; Bibnet; Playlane; Smartbit; Digitaal Erfgoed Nederland; EDM; IBCN ; MMLab; ICRI; vakgroep Pedagogie UGent