Sharing and Openness in learning

In the ONL171 course that I now participate in, we work based on PBL (problem based learning), which is very interesting because I have long experience of PBL IRL that is, only on a small scale online. To be a part of a PBL-group as a student provide many insights. We are divided into groups of 7-8 students and receive new triggers every other week. In the last two weeks, we have been working on the topic ”Open learning – sharing and openness” and I have again been far outside my comfort zone.

It is both exciting and scary to note how little I know. Exciting because a new world is opening up to me and frightening considering I work as a university lecturer and thought I knew more than I actually do.

The course is as I have mentioned before an online course with no physical meetings and in my PBL-group, we have participants from the world’s various corners: Brisbane, Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris, South Africa and myself from Finland. It is very rewarding and inspiring to network, discuss and experiment in the same small group with so many people with different backgrounds. During the brainstorming session that we had when we got our trigger for this theme, the following issues became apparent to me.

• Do I have the right to open up my courses? What does my university say?
• What does the Finnish legislation say about open courses?
• At our university, we have locked doors to the physical classrooms. Is it possible to have digital OER if the physical doors are locked?
• MOOCS are free but if the certificate costs money, it will anyway be unequal?

I have not yet found an answer to all the issues, but I have learned a lot about copyright and Creative Common Licenses, about how I can think of regarding the pros and cons with openness and quite specific tips for how my university can work towards a more open learning climate.

Making knowledge available to all fits well into the set of values I have, and in my way of looking at sustainable development. It is a very beautiful and attractive idea to open up the lessons from the universities to the world to as many people as possible. It is about generosity, to share and make someone involved. Dr. David Wiley is Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University, goes so far as to say that transparency is the only thing that one can call education. Without transparency, there is no education. Open is the only rule in education. Education is sharing, no sharing no education. Wiley says, ”We have to overcome the 2 year old in us who is screaming, ‘it’s mine, it’s mine’”.

Here we approach the fear to lose something important by sharing. Only when we dare abandon territorial thinking and realize that we can share without losing anything, we come closer to the core. It is interesting and encouraging that many of the universities that have been pioneers in opening up and offer MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) have been the big well-known universities.

Many questions have been raised over the past two weeks problematizing the openness and challenging the idea of formal exams vs knowledge. Will the university degrees attract young people in the future? Will the workplace continue to ask for formal permission or is it creative, innovative people who built their own cv using experience, MOOC’s, courses of various types, and so on, that other will envy. For me that means I have to think about whether my profession needs to be developed in order to respond to this societal development.

This theme of openness in education is a theme that I probably will return to in the future. Right now, I feel that we only had time to scratch the surface of this topic.


Alexanderson, tal, Wallenberg, illustration, Thorén, film och redigering (2012)Vad är Creativ Commons, en undervisningsfilm. 18.3.2017:

Paananen and Saari (2013) Mooc, massiiviset avoimet verkkokurssit, IPOPP 2013,

Wiley, David (2010) open education and the future, the TED talk.

Picture: Creative Commons av Jesper Wallerborg CC by ”En animation som illustrerar Creative Commons och lite till” 18.3.2017:


7 reaktioner på ”Sharing and Openness in learning

  1. Great post Bettina and I think you capture the enormous opportunities that openness enables but at the same time the fear of the unknown that stops many institutions from starting the process. It’s worrying however that just when we are able to share and learn from each other on a global scale there is a strong movement in the opposite direction to close down and protect. Indeed there are more questions than answers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was very happy reading your blog post about the subject that education should be open to everyone. I agree with you, this is important for sustainable development. One issue in succeeding with open online learning I think, is to find those that would benefit a lot from these courses and give them the tools to participate and finish courses.

    Liked by 1 person


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