Open access publishing, open educational resourcses (OER) and open educational practices (OEP). A lot have changed since I started my academic carrier in 2002. It is fascinating to think about how swiftly the learning environment has changed in higher education. When I took my first classes at the law programme at Stockholm University, all our course material was printed – literature, legislation and preprinted folders with case-material, and all classes and lectures where held on campus. Twenty years later here I am trying to find out the best way to get if not all, at least moust of my course material accessible online. Learning about creative commons licences for my power point slides and creative ways to help my students interact off-campus and develop their – now – essential online learning competences.

I like to consider myself a creative teacher in the sense that I come up with new ideas, raise new questions and can generate solutions to ill-defined problems” (Benetto 2018) Though little, or to be honest, no part of my creativity is aimed finding teaching practices that are surprising or focused on process and product, aligned to learning outcomes that is new and valuable (Pollard 2022), like OER and OEP. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term OEP, Irvine and Paskevicius describes this as: “Teaching and learning practices where openness is enacted within all aspects of instructional practice; including the design of learning outcomes, the selection of teaching resources, and the planning of activities and assessment. OEP engage both faculty and students with the use and creation of OER, draw attention to the potential afforded by open licences, facilitate open peer-review, and support participatory student-directed projects.” Irvine and Paskevicius p. 127 (2017)

There are explanations for why I am not as creative in my teaching with regards to open learning, sharing and opennes as I could be. My creativity is definitely affected by the strict syllabus of the Law Programme at Stockholm University, but also by limited time and lack of knowledge and training. 

Further information on different factors that have been found to prevent creativity can be found here: Ismayilova and Bolander Laksov (2022)

Hence, even if I would wan’t to expand my creativity into using OER and OEP in my teaching, I inevitably would need to do some important ground work on both a personal and institutional level first. 

The first issue, of strict syllabus restrictions, need to be addressed on an institutional level. Since I am  course director of courses that are part of the law programme, my syllabus and curriculums have to match the learning objectives and exepected learning outcomes of the syllabus of the law programme. And there is currently no mentioning of for example lerner-centered learning objectives in the syllabus of the law programme. This is of course not an unsolvable problem, the syllabus can be changed. It is however out of my immediate control, the change need to be implemented by the educational board. And for the 4,5 year long law programme, with around 300 students enrolling each term, changes to the syllabus aren´t done swiflty and with ease.  

If OER and OEP are to be used though, it is important that this change is made. The use of OER and OEP should not be considered just another way of teaching. The new teaching practices and use of OER should be made an integral part of the syllabus and if for example learner-centered pedagogical models with constructivist approaches are used, this should be integrated as an integral part of the syllabus of the course (Al Abri 2022) And it need to be acknowledged that it is time consuming to put OER into curriculum (Seaman and Seaman, (2019))

A second issue to consider is potential lack of knowledge and training – which can be assumed to be an obstacle not only for myself but also to various extent for other teachers and students. When the course is designed it is important that time is taken both to carefully consider what learning outcomes the students need to achieve, which form of teaching to implement to enable them to reach this learning outcome, and that the students (and teachers) are given enough time to be able to learn how to use it. It is also important that the student persepective into consideration when building the course, for example both their personal attitude towards sharing their work openly. 

Interesting and illustrative examples of how similar teaching formats as the ONL community uses can be built, as a form of semi-open OEP, can be found here. (2017)

To make this short, there are at the moment limits for how creative I can be regarding my teaching practices at the law programme. But, to become aware of the positive and negative aspects of OER and OEP as well as various issues, is the first step to becoming more creative also with these forms of teaching. And already at this stage, at the “becoming aware-phase” i believe that the knowledge I have gained is useful to me. It has already sparked my creativity and curiosity and I feel inspired to start trying to get others on board as well. So who knows, maybe in a couple of years there will be some MOOC collaborations, blended learning courses and common use of OEP also at the law programmes in Sweden. I have already found two possible reasons and ways to introduce MOOCs into the Swedish law programmes. This is what I am thinking:

Martin Weller, author of Battle for Open, lists five possible functions for MOOCs, and I find the first one most appealing, to use MOOCs to open up a portion of a course. It can be used as a “shop window” for prospective students, and in a social justice manner I also believe that it could give students, who are not from a academic background, the possibility to – at no cost – glance at what Higher Education means in a particular field that they find interesting. This possibility could be of real value not only for the students, but also to the law programme which struggles with diversity and getting students from all backgrounds to enrole and eventually becoming lawyers, judges, attorneys etc. Diversity is very important in law because lawyers need to reflect society – as a group they become societys bearers of justice and it is very important that this group does not only consist of white middle class men and women.

Another possible function of MOOCs, that Weller mentions, is curriculum experimentation and ­expansion. Using MOOCs, as a form of collaboration between universities seems like an interesting way to be able to use resources and competences better in a small country like Sweden. In Sweden there simply aren´t enough experts in every field of law in every university. Using MOOCs could be a way to give students the possibility to gain knowledge in relevant subject fields that are poorly represented at their University, but that might be very well represented at another University. A valuable way to use MOOCs and cross-university collaborations could be to use MOOCs as part of a combination of resources and course formats. For example in blended course formats where primarily campus based courses in one univesity can easliy be combined with requirements to participate in a suitable MOOC in another university.

If you have any interesting ideas about what open learning in law could bring to your field, or indeed as myself is a law professor who want to become more open to sharing and digitally creative, do give me a shout and maybe we can start collaborating and exploring together!

List of resources:

Beghetto, R. A. (2007). Does creativity have a place in classroom discussions? Teachers’ response preferencesThinking Skills and Creativity2(1), 19

Pollard, V.Hains-Wesson, R., & Young, K. (2018). Creative teaching in STEMTeaching in Higher Education23(2), 178193

Khayala Ismayilova & Klara Bolander Laksov (2022) Teaching Creatively in Higher Education: The Roles of Personal Attributes and Environment, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, DOI: 10.1080/00313831.2022.2042732

Paskevicius, M. and Irvine, V., (2019). Open Education and Learning Design: Open Pedagogy in Praxis. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2019(1), p.10.DOI:

Al Abri, M.H., Bannan, B. & Dabbagh, N. The design and development of an open educational resources intervention in a college course that manifests in open educational practices: a design-based research study. J Comput High Educ 34, 154–188 (2022).

Seaman, JE and Seaman, J. (2019) Freeing the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education  

Czerniewicz, L., Deacon, A., Glover, M. et al. MOOC—making and open educational practices. J Comput High Educ 29, 81–97 (2017).

Weller, M. (2014). Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press.

Small steps towards digital open learning creativity