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DigiCULT 11
push announcements via e-mail when fitting new
metadata records appear on their gateway. In
January 2004, it also introduced the opportunity to
integrate regularly updated search results into one's
own Website.
23
| Systems that involve knowledge-based visualisation
and contextualisation of resources, such as the one
that is being built by the VICODI project, which
concentrates on European history resources.
24
| Generally, academic users, in particular univer-
sity students, will also welcome resource discovery
applications that provide state-of-the-art graphi-
cally driven interfaces for searching, browsing and
navigation (see also below).
Educational Users and Lifelong Learners
Educators in heritage institutions should play a
strong role in gaining an understanding and mon-
itoring the current changes of user expectations in
the digital environment. Schoolchildren, students
and a younger generation of teachers have grown up
with rich, interactive and dynamic media. The level
of what they expect from learning content, environ-
ments and tools in terms of interactivity, complex-
ity, active exploration, as well as collaboration, is
increasing rapidly. In fact, heritage institutions need
to understand that their customers benchmark their
online educational resources against the industry
standards in `edutainment', games, and other compel-
ling interactive environments.
25
Main objectives and tasks
From the traditional viewpoint of instructional and
textbook-based teaching, one will expect teachers to
search for ready-to-use content and even worksheets
for preparing lessons, student projects, and school vis-
its to museums or heritage sites.
However, a newer generation of teachers ­ in line
with state-of-the-art learning paradigms ­ will seek
environments that engage learners in meaningful
practices, fostering creative thinking and innovative
problem solving. Schoolchildren and students them-
selves will be most interested in explorative e-learn-
ing opportunities.
Current modes of resource discovery
School teachers and students will explore target-
ed Websites such as the Virtual Museum Canada that
offers a wealth of exhibits, a teacher centre, searching
across all resources or all exhibits, and a MyMuseum
function.
26
They will also use thematic Websites such
as those on the French Educnet that include resources
on art history, cinema, music and theatre.
27
Further-
more, there is a growing number of Websites that pro-
vide access to resources that are tied in with national
curricula. Best practice examples here are, for exam-
ple, SCRAN ­ the Scottish Cultural Resources Access
Network
28
­ or The National Archives' `Learning
Curve'.
29
However, heritage institutions today main-
ly provide opportunities to `mine' digital collections
such as image libraries. The main functionalities are
searching and browsing of resources, a `one size fits all'
approach from school kids to 50+ lifelong learners.
Advanced and future options
Heritage institutions need to serve different search
styles that are related to a range of information, learn-
ing and leisure activities. Many older users will tend
to prefer simple, user-friendly searching and brows-
ing tools, keyword searches or searches under known
categories, and to follow linear browsing pathways
(e.g. using hierarchical metaphors and thematic struc-
tures). Future search opportunities for these users may
include natural language question and answer mech-
anisms and recommender systems (similar to features
offered, for example, by Amazon).
In contrast, younger users prefer browsing options
over specific searches, want to drive their own path-
ways through collections, and seek interactivity and
action spaces (e.g. real time, 3D presentation, simu-
lations, game-like discovery spaces).
30
In particular,
youngsters will welcome resource discovery applica-
tions with state-of-the-art graphically driven interfac-
es for browsing and navigation, associative concepts
such as mindmaps, visual prompts, and visualisation
engines that dynamically connect related topics, ide-
as and objects. Such solutions will most likely be used
on top of large online collections and within exhibi-
tion environments.
23
History Guide/
InformationsWeiser
Geschichte: http://www.
historyguide.de
24
VICODI (Visual
Contextualisation of Digital
Content), http://www.
vicodi.org; for a concise
overview see their
poster for the IADIS
e-Society 2004 conference,
http://www.vicodi.org/
vicodi%20poster_143.ppt
25
Cf. EP2010 Study:
Dossier on Digital Games
& Learning ­ Paradigms,
Markets and Technologies.
September 2003, http://
ep2010.salzburgresearch.
at/dossiers/ep2010_
dossier_games-elearning.pdf
26
VMC: http://www.
virtualmuseum.ca
27
Educnet: Sites disci-
plinaires et thématiques,
http://www.educnet.
education.fr/secondaire/
disciplines.htm
28
SCRAN: http://www.
scran.ac.uk
29
Learning Curve, http://
learningcurve.pro.gov.uk
30
Cf. Fiona Cameron
(2003): The Next
Generation -- `Knowledge
Environments' and Digital
Collections, http://www.
archimuse.com/mw2003/
papers/cameron/
cameron.html