Libraries, museums, archives and schools (as well as other cultural and educational institutions) have a tradition of supporting access to information and cultural resources, they are involved in the educational processes and they know their users' requirements. These factors make them key participants in the IST Programme, where they can make an essential contribution to the cultural heritage and learning sectors. Since their joining of the European Union, in May 2004, a growing number of opportunities for organisations from the New Member States to participate in European projects have been made available by the European Commission both in the cultural and learning areas.
To learn about these opportunities read the section Calls for Proposals.
Below is a description of the objectives and activities of the Unit ‘Learning and Cultural Heritage’ of the European Commission.
Unit 'Learning and Cultural Heritage', which is part of Directorate E - Content of the European Commission, is responsible for research related to the use of advanced technologies for learning and for accessing and preserving Europe's cultural, artistic and scientific resources. The focus and areas of responsibilities of the Unit within the two sectors are described below.
The unit is charged with research on the value that information technologies and new media add to learning processes. Work takes into account technological, cognitive, pedagogical and organisational aspects, with an emphasis on technology as facilitator of the learning process, and leads on to interactive systems and open platforms to enable distributed learning, learning from experience, learning in context, collaborative learning, as well as novel approaches to enhancing the learning process. The mandate includes learning for the school, university, workplace and lifelong learning for all in any language.
The unit is also charged with supporting the early adoption of new technologies for accessing and preserving Europe's cultural, artistic and scientific resources, thus making libraries, archives and museums accessible to everyone, everywhere and at any time. The work involves research and prototype application development that will lead to the adoption of automated digitisation, and digital restoration and preservation techniques, as well as the creation of large-scale interactive networks of cultural resources and new environments for intelligent heritage and tourism, and community memory.