A separate, explorative case study in this chapter focuses on genealogy, an area that is
particularly interesting for archival and public records institutions, booming with private
users, and technologically demanding (including e.g. mass-digitisation & indexing).
Virtual environments (e-learning)
A virtual environment offers an interactive space that includes material with which users,
individually or as a group, can do and produce something that is valuable for purposes as for
example educational progress. Access to and usage of such a "members only" virtual space is
usually based on a subscription.
To justify monthly or annual payments an organisation needs to offer an extensive
volume of high quality material with rich documentation as well as tools, clues and
examples for usage.The cost of content generation for online use is high, particularly that
associated with the development of well-supported, interactive educational material.To
build and keep attractive a subscription-based virtual environment is very demanding and
today a reasonable "commercial" line of activity only for major single institutions, consortia
or new types of cultural heritage organisations that are heavily funded (e.g. the Louvre,
[lourvre.edu] is an educational virtual environment service realised by the Musée du Louvre
and Pagesjaunes Édition, in partnership with the Ministère de l'Éducation nationale.The
environment builds on the collections (digitised objects) and digital library resources of the
Louvre, and also is helpful in preparing a visit to the (physical) exhibition spaces of the
Users of this subscription-based environment are provided with a personal "virtual office"
(also for group use, e.g. a professor and a group of students).Work with the digital objects is
supported by indexes, maps, and search options (e.g. on artists, genre, themes).The virtual
office has a set of functionalities with which digital objects (images and legends, texts and
audio commentaries) can be selected, combined and re-grouped (with the help of an
"mosaïqueur"), stored together, or downloaded for external usages as for example a presen-
tation in the classroom or on an educational web site.
A sample of examples of "applications pédagogiques" that have been realised by teachers
and students are accessible via the Educanet.
<http://www.louvre.edu>, <http://www.educnet.education.fr/louvre/louvre1.htm> and
Short case study: Fathom Knowledge Network Inc.
Fathom Knowledge Network Inc., launched in November 2000, is one of the most
interesting ventures in cultural distance learning targeting customers with offers for cultural
lifelong learning and professional development. Most interesting, because it puts to the test
whether high-quality cultural, professional and scholarly online education or "an interactive