From Archive to the Classroom: the interactive use of culture and media to boost MIL in learners

by Leen De Bruyn, meemoo, The Flemish Institute for Archives, Belgium.

Young people live in a visual culture. By using audiovisual content in the classroom, teachers can benefit from this. But where can teachers find relevant audiovisual material for the classroom? Enter The Archive for Education: an audiovisual database with high-quality and reliable archive content that meemoo has set up together with teachers. At meemoo, we support the digital archive operations of Flemish cultural, media and government organisations. Together with our partners, we bring the past back to life and prepare it for the future. We safeguard our partners’ archive content digitally, and make it accessible and usable to targeted audiences, such as teachers and pupils.

The figures in this video date back to the end of last school year (2022-2023).

Bringing media to the classroom

On The Archive for Education, teachers can browse through over 26.000 audio and video clips from the archives of 60 partners to enrich their lessons. Each clip is curated for and by teachers based on curriculum standards, and is enriched with relevant educational metadata. This makes for easy searching and filtering by educational level, subject, grade and theme. 

Searching The Archive for Education (in Dutch) © meemoo. Images KLAAR © VRT.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we transformed our platform from teacher centred to pupil centred. With blended learning becoming the standard, exclusive access for teachers on our platform no longer proved to be enough. With extra funding from the Flemish Ministry of Education, we opened up The Archive for Education to all secondary school pupils – a bit earlier than we’d planned. By so doing, we assisted schools and teachers in taking a digital leap forward. A success: last school year we welcomed 94.000 pupils on the platform, on top of 70.000 teachers and 21.000 teachers in training.

Because learners have unique needs in terms of functionalities, we created a customised learning environment for pupils. Initially, teachers could only assign their pupils tasks focused on viewing and listening skills. Later on, we created new functionalities enabling teachers to give activating assignments, such as searching tasks and collection building exercises. This way, teachers can push learners to search and select the most relevant media clips concerning a specific topic, and build a consistent story with them.

Example of pupil’s personal workspace (in Dutch) with tasks that can be sorted by course, teacher and deadline. © meemoo

The added value for pupils and teachers

Learning with The Archive for Education means learning and searching through media content in a reliable, ad-free and distraction-free environment. The clips on the platform relate to the pupils’ local environment as well as national and international news, while providing insight into the Flemish media landscape. Navigating and using this content, pupils are able to boost their digital media literacy skills, critical thinking and storytelling abilities.

For teachers, The Archive for Education can also be a huge time saver. With content linked to the school curricula ranging from kindergarten to secondary schools and encompassing various courses, finding relevant clips for their lessons is a walk in the park. If they can’t find a specific clip in the database, they can simply request for it to be added. Collaborating with fellow teachers on the platform is also easy: they can share their lesson preparations and work on them together. Whenever they’re looking for inspiration, they can browse through our editorial collections with teaching tips, sample assignments and didactic support.

What’s in it for archive institutions? 

By partnering up with archive institutions and making their content available on our educational platform, we create awareness in the educational field about what archives are and how they function. Through the Archive for Education, archive institutions can get their material into the classroom and reach a target group they can’t always reach by themselves. You could even argue that the interaction with pupils keeps their content alive. 

The visibility on our platform is also a plus: users with an interest in a particular partner’s content, can specifically search for their material. Moreover, partners can put the spotlight on their content by creating their own collections on The Archive for Education, including a link to their website.

What you can learn from our approach

The key to making copyrighted material available on The Archive for Education is the local context we’re in. Flemish copyright law states an exception for education, which allows us to open up our partners’ content to teachers and pupils on our enclosed platform. Archive institutions reading this may have to operate within different conditions, however, they can draw inspiration from our approach and lessons learned. We hope our experiences inspire archives to research the possibilities of target group-oriented access in order to successfully open up their collections for education, thus giving teachers access to a wealth of teaching material and stimulating pupils to broaden their views.

>> Read more about The Archive for Education


Leen De Bruyn, Project Leader & Account Manager, meemoo, Belgium.