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NaturalEurope: Natural History & Environmental Cultural Heritage in European Digital Libraries for Education

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Contract Information

Programme: SEVENTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME
Programme Acronym: FP7-POLICIES
Contract Type: NO CONTRACT TYPE
Start Date: 2010-03-01
End Date: 2013-02-28
Contract No: N/A
Role for TUC/MUSIC: Contractor
Funding for TUC/MUSIC: 250000.0 Euros
Principal Investigator for TUC/MUSIC: Stavros Christodoulakis

Project Information

Project Description

In an era where natural history and environmental education inadequacy in formal and informal contexts is becoming an increasingly challenging issue, harvesting the potential of European digital libraries appears as a very attractive option. However, an impressive abundance of high quality digital content that is available in Natural History Museums (NHMs) around Europe remains largely unexploited due to a number of barriers, such as: the lack of interconnection and interoperability between the management systems of NHMs, the lack of centralised access through a European point of reference like Europeana, as well as the inefficiency of current content organization and the metadata used.

A major problem is however the lack of effective support of digital library applications like learning. Applications are well known to be long living, and typically they have longer life than systems. Thus they tend to create their own standards and support infrastructures based on those standards. These independent infrastructures and applications however do not exploit the vast wealth of information in the European digital libraries, and they do not interoperate effectively and efficiently with them.

The Natural Europe project suggests a coordinated solution at European level in order to overcome the aforementioned barriers. More specifically, Natural Europe aims to deliver the following services/solutions:

  1. connect the digital collections of European NHMs with Europeana, helping them overcome obstacles such as the lack of interoperable systems and metadata;

  2. study the educational methods and deploy the necessary software tools that will allow educators to design innovative online pathways through the digital collections of NHMs;

  3. facilitate the storage, search and retrieval of learning objects from Europeana according to international learning standards;

  4. facilitate the search and retrieval from Europeana of digital library objects related to educational profiles, objectives and curricula on Natural History, Environmental Education, and Biological Sciences;

  5. facilitate existing educational search software to interface with the Europeana digital library;

  6. design and deploy novel graphical interfaces that will facilitate the navigation of educational pathways within digital collections, both from Europeana and the Museum’s Web sites;

  7. adapt and test innovative interactive installations at the NHMs that will allow visitors to follow educational pathways through Europeana’s content on Natural History and Sciences, as part of the Museums’ exhibition;

  8. evaluate and validate the delivered services/solutions through extensive pilot trials with projectinternal and external organisations and user groups.

To implement the Natural Europe vision, the consortium brings together a balanced mix of high quality NHMs, pedagogues, educational technologists, metadata experts, user groups and standardization bodies. After the approach is tested through a set of “proof-of-concept” experiments

that will try out the different theoretical approaches, it will extensively validate the proposed approach in real-life usage contexts employing the user groups represented in the consortium. Through the significant networking capacity of the Natural Europe consortium, the overall aim is to achieve a pan-European standardization process in the field of engaging the cultural heritage of NHMs of Europe and the Europeana infrastructure, in order to enhance natural history and environmental education.

Target users and their needs Natural Europe will focus on the specific user groups and their particular needs. The main identified user segments are:

  • Students: Students studying natural history, environmental education and science in secondary education and university level. This target group will have a multi-fold interaction with the Natural Europe service either through web access to the portal within the classroom context, either through student web access at home or through physical visits to local NHMs.

  • Teachers: Teachers need to leverage the existing legacy of educational content and scenarios. The Natural Europe will offer versatile creation and reuse of educational scenarios (learning activities) through an intuitive platform. Furthermore, building on the context sensitivity of the platform, teachers will be offered with relevant search results, recommendations and links.

  • Museum visitors: Museum visitors will be offered access to a broader range of relevant digital resources. In addition, weight will be placed also on the pre- and post- visit phases of the visitor experience, offering web access to information before the visit, allowing for personal path design within the museum and for the post- visit phase where the visitor can access digital resources related to the physical exhibits he/she just visited.

  • Informal learning web visitors: As Internet penetration becomes a predominant phenomenon in Europe, more and more of the web users make the most of the Internet in informal learning contexts. To answer their needs for “edutainment” the Natural Europe project will build a context sensitive service offering a vast range of digital content. Most importantly, this “content package” will be delivered custom-tailored to the user needs

Project Publications

(11) A crowdsourcing framework for the management of mobile multimedia nature observations

Publication Authors: Skevakis G., Tsinaraki C., Trochatou I., Christodoulakis S.
Publication Info: G. Skevakis, C. Tsinaraki, I. Trochatou, S. Christodoulakis, “A crowdsourcing framework for the management of mobile multimedia nature observations”. In the International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications, Volume 10 Issue 4, IJPCC, Emerald Publishing 2014
Publication Type: Journal Publications

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(10) Metadata management, interoperability and Linked Data publishing support for Natural History Museums

Publication Authors: Skevakis G., Makris K., Kalokyri V., Arapi P., Christodoulakis S.
Publication Info: International Jurnal on Digital Libraries (IJDL) 2014
Publication Type: Journal Publications

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(9) Metadata Management and Interoperability Support for Natural History Museums

Publication Authors: Makris K., Skevakis G., Kalokyri V., Arapi P., Christodoulakis S.
Publication Info: 17th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries (TPDL) 2013
Publication Type: Conference Publications

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(8) Elevating Natural History Museums’ Cultural Collections to the Linked Data Cloud

Publication Authors: Skevakis G., Makris K., Arapi P., Christodoulakis S.
Publication Info: 3rd International Workshop on Semantic Digital Archives (SDA), In conjunction with the 17th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries (TPDL) 2013
Publication Type: Workshop Proceedings

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(7) Octopus: A Collaborative Environment Supporting the Development of Effective Instructional Design

Publication Authors: Mylonakis M., Arapi P., Moumoutzis N., Christodoulakis S., Ampartzaki M.
Publication Info: The Second International Conference on E-Learning and E-Technologies in Education (ICEEE2013), Sept. 23-25 Poland 2013
Publication Type: Conference Publications

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(6) MoM-NOCS: Management of Mobile Multimedia Nature Observations using Crowd Sourcing

Publication Authors: Tsinaraki C., Skevakis G., Trochatou I., Christodoulakis S.
Publication Info: In the proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Advances in Mobile Computing and Multimedia, MoMM 2013
Publication Type: Conference Publications

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(5) Federating Natural History Museums in Natural Europe

Publication Authors: Makris K., Skevakis G., Kalokyri V., Arapi P., Christodoulakis S., Stoitsis J., Manolis N., Rojas S.
Publication Info: 7th Metadata Semantics and Research Conference (MTSR) 2013
Publication Type: Conference Publications

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(4) SPARQL‒RW:Transparent Query Access over Mapped RDF Data Sources

Publication Authors: Makris K., Bikakis N., Gioldasis N., Christodoulakis S.
Publication Info: 15th International Conference on Extending Database Technology (EDBT), March 27-30 2012
Publication Type: Conference Publications

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(3) Mapping MPEG-7 to CIDOC/CRM

Publication Authors: Agelopoulou A., Tsinaraki C., Christodoulakis S.
Publication Info: In the proceedings of the International Conference on Theory and Practice in Digital Libraries (TPDL, x-ECDL) 2011 Conference, 26-28 September, 2011
Publication Type: Conference Publications

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(2) Bringing Environmental Culture Content into the Europeana.eu portal: The Natural Europe Digital Libraries Federation infrastructure

Publication Authors: Makris K., Skevakis G., Kalokyri V., Gioldasis N., Kazasis F., Christodoulakis S.
Publication Info: (To appear in) Fifth Metadata and Semantics Research Conference (MTSR), Special track on Metadata & Semantics for Cultural Collections & Applications 2011
Publication Type: Conference Publications

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(1) EUROMUSE: A web-based system for the management of MUSEum objects and their interoperability with EUROpeana

Publication Authors: Skevakis G., Kalokyri V., Christodoulakis S.
Publication Info: Diploma Work, Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Chania 2011
Publication Type: Diploma Theses

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Project Consortium

Partner Logo GRNET
The Greek Research and Technology Network
EL
Partner Logo TNHM
Estonian Natural History Museum
EE
Partner Logo AC
Artic Centre
FI
Partner Logo JME
Jura Museum Eichstaett
DE
Partner Logo MNHNL
Museu Nacional de História Natural of Lisbon
PT
Partner Logo RBI
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
BE
Partner Logo NHMC
Natural History Museum of Crete
EL
Partner Logo BARCO
BARCO
BE
Partner Logo HU
University of Helsinki
FI
Partner Logo UBT
University of Bayreuth
DE
Partner Logo FIT
Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology
DE
Partner Logo HNHM
Hungarian Natural History Museum
HU