And so the revolution begins!

What a few weeks: my boundaries and borders have been stretched, and thanks to all the fantastic material we’ve listened to, watched, discussed, pondered, and prepared, I know that my digital identity and understanding of hitherto so many vaguely understood new directions has shifted!

This has also been a tough couple of weeks workwise, but through one of the pedagogical approaches of this course (collaborative sharing) and the gentle challenge of the topic (open learning, openness and sharing), I think there has been a subtle but clear shift in my understanding as well as my own pedagogical and academic openness. Hurrah!

This understanding encompasses

  • the benefits of being open with your materials–thanks, among other influences, to Alastair’s comment on my own comment left on the Padlet for the webinar Friday 18 October, as well as discussions with my own colleagues;
  • the practical steps you can take if you are willing to become part of this brave new open and collaborative learning community–thanks to much input from the materials these weeks, but most especially to my own PBL 11 group, the Eleveners, and their great work done and shared during the FiSH scenario work for Topic 2.

One of those brave new worlds: the story of open education resources (OERs), why share, and all good things under the sun

“…for older students, university students in particular, and all of the life-long learners out there who can’t access/afford/ etc formal learning, open learning makes far more sense.”

Kay Odone (2016) in ‘PLE or PLN or LMS or OLN?’

I’ll be honest and say that there was a lot of material I wanted to read through and watch, but this ONL course is on top of a very busy semester of new projects in my own online teaching development, and in tandem with new digital skills being learnt; nevertheless, I couldn’t have decded to join at a more oportune moment. The line from Kay Odone’s 2016 blog post resonated with me because I have been spoilt in my access to education since I was a child. My education has either been paid for at private schools or it has been free as all higher education is in Finland–at least for Finnish, EU, and ETA citizens. Many of the int’l Masters students I teach come from non-EU, non-ETA countries, such as Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam, and I can see that their families have to spend a lot to let their children have a ‘better education’ in a European university. However, this also implies that only the elite and those who families can afford it are given access to a higher education. But open learning as Odone, Weller, Wiley and many others proclaim can give all with an internet connection a fighting chance.

“…really the only role for new media and technology in education is to increase our capacity to be generous…”

David Wiley, 2010, TEDxNYED, 14:07-14:12

My last word on this particular branch of thought is the beauty of what Wiley said in the last moments of his 2010 TEDx talk and how well it ties into the openness movement: to increase our capacity to be generous [with one another].

When the pieces fall into place. Photo credit: Business photo created by –

Moving on, amongst the material that I delved into the most (or had time to), I greatly enjoyed Weller’s (2014) ‘The Battle for Open’ and the couple of recommended chapters. Weller’s (2014) chapters on Open Educational Resources and MOOCs (Chapters 4 and 5, respectively) tied into the topic I chose to investigate with my PBL group: choosing to share, how much to share, and to communicate that desire to share, basically the nitty-gritty of Creative Commons licenses, how to use them, and how to decide which one you want to use. However, due to time restraints, I carried out my investigation before I had time to read the aforementioned chapters by Weller, but reading those chapters helped so much fall into place during this last week.

After reading through the history of the open movement as laid out by Weller (Ch 4, 2014), I began to understand many of the choices made by colleagues and also by our institution to begin more openly and consistently not only share teaching materials stamped with a CC license, but to also encourage and ensure that colleagues respect the creative rights of others. Thanks to the ease with which one can plagiarise as never before, gone are the days of just presuming you’ll be cited correctly or your copyright acknowledged by others. It is a grand and glorious thing that not only are we ‘attempting to wrestle control back from third-party publishers’ (Weller, 2014, p.67), but many of us feel that we finally have a few more ground rules for how and where to share, and how to make use of the millions of open educational resources (OERs) out there. As I came repeatedly across the Hewlett Foundation’s five motivations (for example as cited in Weller, 2014, p. 73-74), I found myself constantly hurrahing the fifth motivation to ‘offer equal access to knowledge for all’ (Weller, 2014, p.74). What a Nordic concept I thought!

And yet depending on the position held and promoted by our country and institution in the ‘openness movement’, there might be great tensions and mixed messages on how open we can be with our own materials and with teaching through such platforms as MOOCs. In a recent edition of a professional magazine for faculty in Finnish higher education, the Chair of the Finnish Union of University Professors, Jouni Kivistö-Rahnasto, shared a slighly enigmatic thought in his editorial stating that ‘…the idea that teaching materials would just be distributed to larger audiences for free is equally impossible. Creators have their rights and materials are generally the property of their creators.’ (Acatiimi, 6/2019, p.49) Of course, behind this seemingly anti-OER statement lay the argument that there needs to be funding behind lifelong education, but that the present government does not seem to realise that must be planned now. So, there is hope that even if not all Finnish universities are yet in on the openness movement and many are still in complete ignorance of what it means, at least here’s one new convert who has finally seen or at least understood the light. You can call me BY (Anya)-NC-SA from now on ;).


Published by Anya Siddiqi

Lecturer of English at Aalto University Language Centre, Finland.


  1. Indeed, all you need to have access to a MOOC or OER is an internet connection. In my country that is not possible for a large section of the population. A MOOC badge or certificate also dont mean much for a prospective employer. I think MOOCs are only useful for the persons with a good background who need some specialized knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your final statement makes a good point! I don’t know your motives for taking this course, but I’m only doing it 1. because my team leader kept bugging me to take it, and 2. I realised he was right(!) and that I needed to further educate myself in this specialised field as it ties in directly with what we need to do to make our courses more flexible (= more blended, more online, more collaborative). Moreover, again in agreement with your comment on the ‘gains’ of doing such MOOCs, I also don’t benefit from the study credits I’ll get from it (and this would similarly apply to the idea of badges or certificates), but professionally, socially and personally this has been a blast! I’ve already learnt so much more than I could have alone or with my own team of teachers alone.


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