My journey towards open learning – sharing and openness

Author: Jan S. Akmal (

The facade of my open learning journey started with open access publishing. This is perhaps one common ground for researchers and educators to understand the importance of open learning and sharing. The basic principle that underpins innovation and knowledge is the availability of existing knowledge to be accessible to anyone who wishes to scrutinize it and develop it further (Costello et al., 2019). Standing on the shoulders of the giants is a popular expression in sync to this principle. Evidently, restricting access to knowledge in anyway, e.g., paid subscriptions and fees, contradicts this. Costello et al. (2019) argue that following this pursuit can create elite groups with access that may not necessarily build the knowledge further.

My university follows the open access principles. Within this scope, researchers are encouraged to adopt the creative commons CC BY 4.0 license, to publish in parallel in the University repository, and to evaluate the integrity of the journals using for example Publication Forum. To tackle the challenges of article processing charges (APC fees) through negotiated agreements, my university is also a member of FinELib consortium. I have strictly followed these principles for my publications as these can also yield more readers, potential collaborators, and further knowledge creation.

A few years ago, I was also introduced to the concept of open source hardware which essentially projects the concept of creative commons licensing to tangible artifacts. I have also co-authored a publication entitled “Additively Manufactured Parametric Universal Clip-System: An Open Source Approach for Aiding Personal Exposure Measurement in the Breathing Zone” that follows the principles of free and open-source scientific hardware for significantly reducing the costs of scientific hardware and allowing scientists to manufacture components using digital and general-purpose technologies (Kukko et al., 2020). Back in 2018, I also remixed a design to calibrate 3D printers parametrically, which to date has had over 900 downloads. Assuming each download was used to calibrate a 3D printing machine, the outcome is rewarding. Here is a link to printable part sources.

In general, the two weeks spent on this topic were quite interesting. The discussions on the emergence of AI tools raised valuable insights and concerns on the authenticity and legality of the underlying data set that AI tools use. I was fascinated to read about the Responsible AI License (RAIL), that empowers developers to restrain the use of AI technologies to prevent irresponsible and harmful applications. I enjoyed becoming familiar with a greater scope of openness covering multiple facets. I admired the framework and principles of open education resources, practices, and policies. These have also been extensively covered within the open science and research policy of my university. The library of open educational resources provided by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish National Agency for Education contains open educational resources from all levels of education. Further, I found the resource collections provided in the topic brief to be highly useful. Together with my team, I acknowledged that openness comes with challenges and can potentially lower the barriers to misuse. Navigating this domain responsibly is of utmost importance.



Costello, E., Huijser, H., & Marshall, S. (2019). Education’s many “opens”. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 35(3).

Kukko, K., Akmal, J. S., Kangas, A., Salmi, M., Björkstrand, R., Viitanen, A.-K., Partanen, J., & Pearce, J. M. (2020). Additively Manufactured Parametric Universal Clip-System: An Open Source Approach for Aiding Personal Exposure Measurement in the Breathing Zone.


Aarne Hovi says:

Interesting reflections! I very much agree with your ideas about the benefits of open access publishing and science. This has been a very interesting development recently. Throughout my research career (which is not much but still 10+ years) I can say that the openness has come forward: nowadays it is quite common to publish one’s research data and also the publishers of scientific papers encourage the openness of data and code. This is definitely a good thing. As you say, there are downsides too which cannot be completely avoided, but I think the current development is towards the correct direction i.e. towards more openness.

Joanne Kuai says:

Thank you for sharing, Jan. It’s great that your university library provides such support. I often feel lucky that my uni provides such support as well, which is such a privilege as I come to understand not all institutions have such good infrastructure or financial resources to support their researchers to publish OA. I also found the Responsible AI License quite fascinating. I do think there is a disciplinary difference when it comes to open data, etc. For example, social scientists dealing with sensitive data, such as individuals’ residency status, and mental health conditions, shouldn’t be subject to the same rules when computer scientists train their models. If more discipline-specific guidelines can be developed, that would be great.

Dear Jan,
thank you for sharing your journey with us! I am really impressed that you have already published openly and that you have reached so many people with your publications. I am sure that it helps a lot that your school follows the open access principles and gives support.
Thanks for sharing abour Responsible AI License (RAIL). It’s really interesting to read about it.

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