Special Issue "Research in Education on Cultural Heritage Analysis, Management, Conservation, and Communication"

A special issue of Heritage (ISSN 2571-9408). This special issue belongs to the section "Cultural Heritage".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Marco Gaiani
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Architettura, Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, viale Risorgimento, 2-40136 Bologna, Italy
Interests: cultural heritage; real-time rendering; representation; 3D modeling; architecture; archeology; re-verse modeling; Virtual reality; industrial design
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Cristiana Achille
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
3D Survey Group, Architecture, Building Environment & Construction Engineering (A.B.C.) Department, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy
Interests: cultural heritage; digitization; 3D techniques; education

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Cultural heritage (CH) is, today, an asset that defines, through the integration of territorial resources and the fruition and participation of citizens, a “cultural area” of which perception, fruition, management, and relative enrichment can take advantage through new technological solutions.

ICT could increase the visibility and accessibility to the wider public of the “cultural DNA” that shaped the actual appearance of our cities and our territory and enhance the related cultural production, aiding conservation and exploitation.

ICT would foster the cultural, personal, and social growth of users and increase tourist offerings that are still missing or rare, with powerful effects on the socioeconomic development of the territory. Furthermore, it could improve knowledge. Additionally, the current COVID-19 pandemic has also the fruition of CH. Lockdowns, which forced the closure of museums as well as stopping territorial movement, did not prevent the world of culture from finding alternative ways to guarantee the use of its CH, exploiting the possibilities offered by digital tools.

The development of the concept of CH is, today, strongly conditioned by the availability of digital tools allowing the documentation, survey, analysis, and safeguarding of heritage itself. It is common to discuss cultural heritage and laser scanners, photogrammetry, 3D models, etc. The hardware and software tools available have—in a certain sense—brought the world of CH closer because it has become “easy” to acquire the position, shape, and color of CH.

However, ICT-based technological innovation has not yet realized substantial advantages, although it is desirable regarding both the management and the communication and use of assets.

From our point of view, a main reason is related to the need for new paradigms for new knowledge, new values and new learning techniques and methods.

Smart interaction with CH is very limited, because of the user's lack of specific cognitive capabilities (of perception, comprehension, and use) that would allow them to easily establish a connection to the relative asset, of which the main property is three-dimensionality. This cognitive dimension still plays a marginal part in the accumulation and distribution of knowledge in a digital form that still relies, like analogue techniques, on textual systems. A typical example of this lack of specific cognitive capability can be taken from the parallelism between Google Maps and Google Earth. Though Google Earth is much more intuitive in perception and powerful in a cognitive sense, Google Maps still has a much higher number of users because it is grounded in established cognitive capabilities. To close this gap, it is necessary to define the appropriate pedagogical and didactic environments that are useful for training the user on different (cognitive) levels.

In this framework, the educational problem emerges as major. Firstly, it is necessary to recognize the need for the training of the operators entrusted with the protection, management, conservation, and enjoyment of CH, as well as of the users of CH (scholars, citizens, and tourists). Regarding users, a central problem concerns the effectiveness of the fruition of digital objects. An object, whatever its form, mobilizes/generates in the subject a perceptual and intellectual interaction. This interaction depends on the specific shape of the object. In the case of digital objects, the effectiveness depends on two aspects: the adequacy of the didactic transposition of the knowledge associated with the object and the digital character of this transposition.

As concerns the digital character of the didactic transposition, appropriate perception, cognitive, motivational, and emotional conditions must be ensured.

Today, more tools and technologies are being developed in areas far from the CH environment; the objectives of safeguarding “adapt” to the capabilities offered by technology without there being any standards to which to refer to verify the accuracy of the data and their correspondence to real needs. The relative ease of use of the tools suggests that detecting and documenting is also “easy”, but this is not the case. Instead, education techniques and methods need to be driven by the goals of safeguarding and take care of CH. It is the task of education to transmit the theoretical principles and get users accustomed to the use of standards for verifying the quality of the acquired data. One must have the tools to verify and validate the accuracy, completeness, and appropriateness of the information collected. In summary, we must shift our focus from technology to the thinking and actions that occur through them. These challenges give rise to the learning problem.

On the other hand, recent technological advances have made available tools that can also be used to “do” teaching and make teaching more engaging, combining theory with “in the field” using different/specific tools.

They allow one to easily link theoretical–conceptual aspects (knowing) and applicative ones (knowing how to do), producing a strong learning paradigm more connected with the actual need for lifelong learning to face continuous changes in work.

This Special Issue is focused on education in the CH field related to the problem of the exploitation of ICT-based tools as instruments able to foster formidable advances in the lifecycle management and communication of CH.

Worldwide, countries promote the access of the population to didactic activities, promoting work and training paths, through innovative ways of disseminating knowledge. In this sense, the relevance of the theme “education and CH” is evident. The interest of the scientific community confirms the need to organize better-structured study paths, towards both theoretical and practical learning. Collaboration among universities, public or private research institutes, local authorities and professional associations is progressively strengthening, to promote training activities or specialization schools to identify new professional figures active in promoting and conserving CNH. Experiments are conducted directly in the field by promoting CH’s potential and the efficiency of the learning process.

Our focus is on 2D and 3D data not usually covered by the traditional educational system, mainly devoted to textual application. Papers concerning the following will be accepted:

  • Theoretical issues;
  • Key concepts;
  • Conceptual models of learning in the digital environment specific to 3D;
  • Proposals and perspectives;
  • Experiences;
  • Experimental workshops;
  • COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 experiences.
  • New ICT training tools for education.

Prof. Dr. Marco Gaiani
Prof. Dr. Cristiana Achille
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Heritage is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Cultural heritage
  • Education
  • Conservation
  • Digitization
  • Didactics
  • Valorization
  • Learning
  • Understanding 3D techniques
  • ICT-based learning

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Teaching Lighting Design for Cultural Heritage in the Digital and Pandemic Era: Experiencing New and Old Techniques
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 3731-3748; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4040205 - 20 Oct 2021
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In the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the world of cultural heritage has had to cope with the closures of museums and dedicated structures. In this dramatic context, the digitisation of assets represented a partial solution to guarantee the fruition of the [...] Read more.
In the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the world of cultural heritage has had to cope with the closures of museums and dedicated structures. In this dramatic context, the digitisation of assets represented a partial solution to guarantee the fruition of the world’s cultural heritage. Even in the context of teaching, the pandemic represented a challenging moment. This contribution presents three different university teaching experiences focused on lighting for cultural heritage. The workshops described were held before, on horseback, and amid the pandemic. The differences are contextualised in the Italian regulatory and methodological framework. Attention is also paid to the digitisation of assets regarding the lighting design verification of the students’ project proposals. The teaching approach, the procedures, the material presented by the students, and the revision methodology are described. The comparison between the three editions allows for evaluations of the main problems encountered in the different contexts and when the used procedures were instead strong points. The use of three-dimensional simulation, initially designed exclusively for lighting verification, has also proved crucial in the communication of students’ works, demonstrating once more that in the future, the information technologies will be able to help those who deal with cultural assets to expand the catchment area and to enhance the communication of sites and museum structures. Full article
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The Origins of the Postgraduate Programs on Cultural Heritage Knowledge, Management, Conservation, and Communication in Italy: A Vision of the Past as Engine for the Next Future
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 2691-2720; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4040152 - 27 Sep 2021
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A discriminating, multi-disciplinary knowledge is a necessary expertise that all the actors who operate in the management, conservation, and communication of Cultural Heritage (CH) must have. They are, therefore, expected to be seriously prepared in many fields. However, a proper training program for [...] Read more.
A discriminating, multi-disciplinary knowledge is a necessary expertise that all the actors who operate in the management, conservation, and communication of Cultural Heritage (CH) must have. They are, therefore, expected to be seriously prepared in many fields. However, a proper training program for them, which effectively combines humanistic studies with scientific ones, is difficult to be arranged when there is lack of comprehensive perspective in the education system. This paper introduces the experiences of the postgraduate programs that were established for many years at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy. Through a calibrated mixture of theoretical background and practical applications taught by high-profile scholars, those programs proved to be effective in the preparation of figures later dealing with the CH at different levels. The clear organization of those specialized lectures, the innovation introduced with hands-on practical case studies and the adoption of state-of-the-art techniques, led to an educational paradigm that is still efficient, whose outcomes also demonstrated how it can be inspiring for future high-level learning programs, which must be oriented towards fostering an aware preparation for leading operators involved in the conservation and dissemination of CH. Full article
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