Photo by Elaine Casap on Unsplash

Having for years followed the motto “Give and you will get”, openness in education seems self-evident. Saving clause: I have never shared any of my educational material openly online – only on learning platforms and in closed groups. That is why this course is important – learning how not to do the wrong things or do the things wrong.

During our group and webinar discussions I have become more aware of the different starting points regarding the cost of education. In the USA, e g, tuition at (most?) universities comes at a cost whilst in Sweden (where I have studied) or Finland (where I teach) tuition is free (for EU-citizens). This means that where education is free, the universities might be more prone to making the educational material available, whereas education that is subject to fees is regarded as protected (why should you otherwise have to pay for it?). 

My PBL-group colleague Sebastian Schwede expressed the opinion (on the Webinar padlet) that professional education primarily means setting up goals and objectives, evaluate examinations, and collaborating with the field. I read this as meaning competition between the educational institutions is more a question of values (what is important) and organization (methods, structure) than of content. Therefore, Sebastian finds that free access to content – in most cases –  to be beneficial. I totally agree! There is a risk that a non-sharing culture hampers creative exchange, growth of common knowledge and important development.

I find it interesting to reflect upon why you want to create open online courses.

Is it because you think your material is worth spreading – you think you can make a difference? Is it because you want education to be easily accessible for students in far away or poor conditions? Or is it because you find it beneficial to your career, having created a few brilliant courses that you can add to your CV?

What about risks?

Of course, total openness might be risky in some circumstances, but as long the content is not on a secretive level the danger is minimal. 

Then there is the question of personal gain: if your research results in something you might patent and finally make your days a bit more golden – why should you give it away?

My own experience of openness on the internet is rather limited. I certainly have a need for privacy, and do not share my personal life with all my dinners and trips… I use Facebook as a job tool, I seldom take a peek at Instagram and I never use Twitter. I share ideas and projects with students and colleagues on Facebook, by mail and on the learning platform. I gladly share others´ resources (I do mention the original source!) – open libraries, papers, articles, the material of colleagues and web sites. 

My teaching is very much face-to-face, and for the moment I really do not know if there is a point in making any of my courses or self-created material available online. A tutorial? It would need much resources. And I can´t see how the lessons could be videotaped and spread on the internet – mainly because the interaction is very personal and my students definitely do not want to be exposed. 

It is going to be interesting to see if find new ways of regarding and conducting  my educational material, and then maybe there will emerge an opening for an online-course…

Give and you will get