‘Het Archief voor Onderwijs’: communicating Flemish archive materials to teachers and their pupils
by Louise Broch (DR Archive, member of the FIAT/IFTA Value Use and Copyright Commission) – published on 2 April 2020.
The ‘Value Use and Copyright Commission’ of FIAT/IFTA has decided to publish a series of interviews and articles about use of audiovisual archive materials. This interview is about an educational platform called ‘Het Archief voor Onderwijs’ (The education archive), built by VIAA (now meemoo) in collaboration with VRT in Belgium. Jan Noppe from the VRT Archive and Karen Vander Plaetse from meemoo tell the story of their successful education project.
Karen Vander Plaetse is manager for marketing and public interaction at meemoo, the Flemish Institute for Archives. Jan Noppe is Head of Documentation and Archives at VRT, the Flemish public service broadcasting corporation.
Jan and Karen, what is the story behind the collaboration between VRT and meemoo?
Jan Noppe: “meemoo formerly known as VIAA was founded 2013 by the Flemish government in Belgium as a solution for the fact that a lot of audiovisual archives had content to digitize. VRT had already started a digitization process, but it was too expensive to continue. VRT asked the government for funding, but the government wouldn’t fund only the VRT and not fund all the other audiovisual archives. Together with the other archives we discussed an independent organization funded by the Flemish community, which should be responsible for digitizing, preserving and making all audiovisual archives in Flanders public. VIAA was founded in 2013, in the beginning with only 2-3 employees, and VIAA received money from the government for all the content partners’ digitization projects.”
Karen Vander Plaetse: “I have been working at VIAA / meemoo from the very beginning. In 2013 we only had a decree from the government which gave us the task to digitize and preserve audiovisual material belonging to Flemish audiovisual cultural institutions, media organizations and government agencies. But we also wanted to demonstrate how we could make the digitized materials accessible. We started with the investigations of the needs of two target groups: education and libraries. For both groups, we did a living lab construction with research, surveys, brainstorms and co-creation sessions. After one year we had to choose which target group to serve, because we didn’t have the manpower to serve both. We chose education, because schools had high needs for the materials and secondly copyright is less of a problem for this target group.”
Who are the rights holders of the digitized materials, VRT or meemoo?
Jan Noppe: “meemoo is not the owner of the archive content, they only have a copy of our archive, but they digitize it and preserve it. VRT has entered into a license agreement with meemoo: They can use parts of the VRT archive for educational matters, for libraries and for scientific use. Meemoo has put the two last target groups on hold at the moment, because their funding wasn’t big enough.”
Meemoo chose to focus on education. What is the scope of the project?
Karen Vander Plaetse: “We chose to make a demand based solution instead of a supply based solution. Because we wanted the audiovisual materials to be used as much as possible by teachers, we collaborated with them and asked them what their needs were. What we learned from the investigation was that the teachers didn’t use video materials as often as they would like to. They used Youtube and Google as video sources. But the problem with these sources is the fact that you can’t rely on the quality, and it is difficult to find out if you can use the materials. Moreover, the materials are worldwide and don’t fit the national Belgian environment, and the links could disappear. We learned a lot about the teachers’ needs. They said: We don’t have a lot of time, but we want to use video materials if we can get some help. It was important to them that the materials should be curated, they didn’t want a huge database with millions of items. The content must help us in reaching our learning objectives. Meemoo built the service and the scope was always defined by the teachers. We involved them from day one, and in the content creation, they have always been a part of the team.”
“We chose to make a demand based solution instead of a supply based solution. Because we wanted the audiovisual materials to be used as much as possible by teachers, we collaborated with them and asked them what their needs were.”
How does the collaboration between meemoo, VRT and the teachers work?
Jan Noppe: “meemoo pays VRT for the work of six full time equivalent archivists. The archivists annotate the materials digitized by meemoo. A fourth of the archivists are doing content research for ‘Het Archief voor Onderwijs’. The meemoo platform is open to all teachers who register with their teacher card.”
Karen Vander Plaetse: “We segmented the teachers in groups. We began to work with the first-grade teachers in high school, and we decided to make courses in science, geography, Dutch, history etc. The teachers looked at their learning objectives for their subjects, and they told meemoo what topics they needed for their students’ education.”
How is the workflow between meemoo, the VRT archivists and the teacher group?
Karen Vander Plaetse: “We use secondment at meemoo. Teachers are invited to work with ‘Het Archief voor Onderwijs’ at meemoo for one year at a time. The teacher group decides a theme for a collection on the platform; for instance, the history of Belgium. The VRT archivists are briefed by the teachers about the subject. Afterwards the archivists search in the VRT archive database. The archivists choose an amount of video items relevant for the theme, it could be 20 items. This is the first selection of content. Afterwards the teachers watch the items and decide which items should be part of the theme. The metadata in the VRT archive is not always suitable for public use so meemoo adds Learning Object Metadata (LOM) to help teachers find the items they need. Meemoo also does the marketing and communication to showcase the platform and specific items and collections. The teacher group at meemoo makes all the collections for the teacher in the school class, but any teacher who wants to make his own collections from the items on the platform, can easily do so. The teacher in the school class can keep his collection to himself or make it visible to all users. It is easy to copy a collection and make it your own by deleting or adding materials.”
Can students in the classroom make their own collections?
Karen Vander Plaetse: “In the beginning we identified two roles in the project: The teacher and the pupil. We had to start somewhere. The first years we wanted to focus on the teacher. So, right now it is only the teacher who has access to the platform, and who can show the video materials to the class. But soon we want to launch a new platform where the pupil also has access to the platform; but of course, he will see different things than the teacher. We want to make a brand-new tool for education. Right now, the platform is only a tool for the teacher. The new tool will give the pupils access to three kinds of exercises:
- The teacher can invite the pupils to watch a video item or a collection and answer some questions to see if they have understood the context.
- he teacher can test the pupils’ searching skills by asking them to search in the database by themselves.
- The teacher can ask the pupils to make a collection about a specific matter, for instance climate change one by one or in a group.
In 2020 we will launch the new website and give access to pupils (12-18 years). From that moment the teacher will be able to invite his pupils to watch a video or a collection. The other kind of exercises will be available in the end of 2021.”
How do you measure your users?
Karen Vander Plaetse: “Right now, ‘Het Archief voor Onderwijs’ has more than 67.000 users. In the future we will measure how many teachers are using the exercise model for their pupils, when it is implemented. The target group teachers teach pupils from 10 to 12 years in the primary schools and pupils from 12 to 18 years. We also work with higher education with schools forming future teachers. But all teachers are welcome to use the platform.”
Would you like to know more?
You can learn more about the project in this presentation at the FIAT/IFTA world conference in Dubrovnik in October 2019 by Leen De Bruyn from meemoo (VIAA). You can also find more information about meemoo and VRT on their websites.
This article was reviewed by Dale Grayson, Co-Managing Director at Northbound TV and member of the FIAT/IFTA VUC commission.
 This interview was conducted before the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis. In Belgium, classes were suspended from 12 March. In response to this and in collaboration with VRT, among others, meemoo opened the Education Archives platform early for secondary school students on 17 March.