In relation to this topic, when we discussed what “open” really means, I came across an article by Sören Jonsson in my local paper, “Finland celebrates 10 years of open data” (2019), that I find has a bearing also on the concept of openness in education. In the article, open data is defined as “public information that has been made available for anyone to use for free”. Tanja Lahti, who is project manager for the City of Helsinki states regarding open data, that there are several uses for it. Improved and more efficient municipal services, increased possibilities to influence desicion-making, providing journalists with data to review and providing raw material for enterprises. An example mentioned is the mobile app Blindsquare, which assists people with visual impairment. Helsinki University researcher and consultant at the data company Futurice Matti Nelimarkka is less convinced though, stating that “open data promises freely but fulfills sparingly. At least for the time being”. He goes on detailing why the hype around open data hasn’t delivered; most uses are small, pragmatic aids, and though cities have opened their data sources, people have not gained an increased insight in how decisions are made. Asta Manninen, one of the founders of HRI (Helsinki Region Infoshare), which was unique worldwide when it started, is (understandably) less critical and states that a broader perspective should be taken. Much has already been achieved, but there is still a great deal to do. E.g. in research open data has become a requirement to receive EU-financing, and Manninen identifies a trend where the EU is striving to get companies to open their data up. According to Carl-Gustav Lindén, researcher at the Swedish school of Social Science at the University of Helsinki, it provides untold possibilities for journalists, and that there is a needless distrust of open data within the profession, since they believe that all the most interesting sources are kept closed. Lindén maintains that “really interesting things can be done by combining sets of data and obtain new exciting information”. (Jonsson, 2019)

Initially, I felt that the scenario in this topic wasn’t all that relevant, and that it contained too little information to be very useful as a starting point. For example the question what the reason to open up courses is, is in my opinion of fundamental importance, and there were several others.

We ended up having a good discussion on this on one of our PBL meetings, and though perhaps we didn’t really arrive at any answers as such, we did manage to move on, as this led us on to formulate questions to ask, should we be interested in opening courses up:

  • Why do we want to “go open”? If we don’t know the purpose ourselves, we can’t possibly hope to achieve very much.
  • Does it benefit our students and help them in their learning?
  • What kind of course are we planning? Is “going open” the best way to achieve the course goals?
  • Who else will potentially benefit from us “going open”? Will someone profit from it?
  • Does resource allocation meet the needs of running an OED course?

It seems to me, that these questions are not always asked, much less answered, when it comes to open education. There seems to be an inherent value in providing open education in itself, and the reasons, benefits and possible consequences aren’t considered sufficiently. Here David Wiley provides a good framework, when discussing the nature of education and openness in a TED-talk (2010). According to Wiley, openness is sharing teaching materials that are freely shared, and they can be reused, redistributed, revised and remixed. He goes on to stating that “Openness is the only means of doing education”, as we are continuously sharing when education is involved. There is a sharing of knowledge, thoughts and experiences. This is easy to agree with. Regrettably Wiley then arrives at the conclusion that the best teachers (or most successful educators) are those who “Share most thoroughly with the most students”, a statement that once again prioritises only quantity. What is shared should also be considered; there is no intrinsic value in sharing and providing open education, if there is no content worth sharing. It seems to me that currently when we discuss open education, sharing and open data, the assumption is that everything should be shared. While it is true that the Internet and open-source material provide us with amazing possibilities when it comes to sharing, not all knowledge, thoughts and experiences are worth sharing; indeed there are those that definitely should not be shared.

Therefore, there are several questions we should apply when making use of open-source material, and these should also be applied to any content we share. In our PBL group we structured a rubic that can function as a guideline for evaluating material:

Then, when we do decide there is reason for us to share, to “go open”, the possibilities to do so are nearly limitless, even though they to some extent are affected by e.g. copyright laws.


Jonsson, S. (2019, October 15). Finland firar 10 år av öppna data. Östnyland.

Wiley, D. [TEDxNYED]. (2010, April 12). Visitors and Residents [Video file]. Available: (Accessed: November 2 2019).

Topic 2