Open learning

Open educational resources and learning materials promote the development of teaching and boost students’ progress in studies.
How do I find open learning materials?
Where can I publish my learning material openly?

You can publish your learning material in the Library of Open Educational Resources ( 

Helda Open Books and Helsinki University Press are services of the University of Helsinki, which are well suited to, for example, the publication of textbooks.  

Helsinki University Library offers the Editori service as a publication platform for open access journals and as a tool for learning publishing practices to all members of the University community.

Open education – Guidelines and instructions
Questions about open educational resources

Open educational resources can be defined by applying the UNESCO’s definition of open educational resources (OER): “Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution.” (Source: UNESCO, 2016)

The UNESCO definition encompasses openly accessible materials, such as courses, videos, books, articles or sets of assignments. 

Another widely known definition is the 5R model developed by David Wiley: retain, revise, remix, reuse, redistribute. The model is based on the premise that the use of open access learning material takes place in stages, during which the material is further developed

UNESCO: Open Educational resources5R model by David Wiley

Distributing your learning material carries many benefits. 

  • Open materials are accessible to students throughout the learning process and even after the course ends.
  • If you publish your learning material openly, you grant others the right to use and further develop it. This may lead to interesting collaboration, which you may not have thought of otherwise.
  • Open publishing also offers students the opportunity to develop learning assignments. 
  • Teachers instructing the same course can use materials that a colleague of theirs has published openly. Open access learning material can benefit, for example, novice teachers instructing a basic course.
  • Open access materials can also be flexibly used in distance learning, without a University user account.
  • Making your material openly accessible ensures the visibility of your material and your competence. You should also mention the open publication of your learning material in your CV. For example, in the criteria of the Teachers’ Academy, openness is mentioned as an element of an excellent ability to develop and use learning material. The CV template prepared by the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity includes a recommendation that researchers indicate their open access learning materials as part of their teaching merits and ability to develop teaching methods.
  • Your example of sharing your learning material encourages others to share theirs. Thanks to the principle of reciprocity, you then have access to more material for your own students.

Further information:

Openness in the competence criteria of the Teachers´ Academy (PDF)

Template for researcher's curriculum vitae




The author decides on the copyright of learning material. In connection with your material, indicate whether others have the right to use the material and under what conditions they can do so. 

Good practices for making learning material openly accessible: 

  • Add a Creative Commons licence to your material.  
  • Indicate for how long the material is up-to-date and relevant. 
  • Avoid using personal and other sensitive data if the material can be published without them. 

Learning material is best published in a commonly used archive, such as the Library of Open Educational Resources (

Further information:

Recommendation for open access publication of learning resources (in Finnish, PDF)

Examples of tried-and-tested open access materials can be found in the Library’s guidelines on support for teaching.

Topical hints for finding open access materials: 


The use of works or learning materials, or parts thereof, created by other individuals, must be based on: 

  • Permission of the copyright holder or agreement concluded with the author
  • A licence permitting use (such as a CC licence) or 
  • Kopiosto agreement on the use for teaching. 

Various peer-review processes can also be applied to open access learning material.

When assessing open learning material, pay attention to the following aspects: 

  1. Who or what organisation has prepared the material? 
  2. Is a description of the terms and conditions or any licence provided with the material?
  3. When has the learning material last been updated? Is it up to date?
  4. Is the material usable? How well is it suited to its purpose?

Open Textbook Library

Merlot peer review

Merlot Peer Review Report Form (pdf)

UNESCO recommendations for open access materials

If you wish to openly distribute your learning material, you should do so under a licence suitable for your needs. You can find further information about licences in the Library’s open access licence guide.

The Instructions for teaching website provides information on how to take copyright into account when making learning materials openly accessible.

If possible, choose open learning materials for your course. Openly accessible textbooks can be easily used even by a large group of students. When using open access textbooks, you will not have to deal with situations in which the number of simultaneous users is restricted or there are not enough copies of a book in the library.


Open access textbooks can also be used remotely, without a University user account. Moreover, you can attract a wide audience for learning material you produce yourself, if you publish it as open access.


Helda Open Books and Helsinki University Press are services of the University of Helsinki, which are well suited to, for example, the publication of textbooks.

You can place your own materials in Moodle, as well as materials created by others for which you have been granted the right to use. 

A great deal of course material suitable for teaching purposes is available for free online. Tips on openly accessible books can be found in the Library guide for teachers.

Teachers also have the right to use fee-based materials acquired by the Library, under the following terms of use:

  • Based on permission from Kopiosto, a Finnish copyright organisation, teachers can make available on a restricted course platform (such as Moodle) scanned excerpts from publications, such as Finnish and international books and journals. Further information about the terms and conditions is available on the website of Kopiosto
  • Teachers are allowed to make available on restricted course platforms material from various fee-based sources subscribed to by the Library, provided that the course participants are students of the University of Helsinki. The permitted methods of use should always be verified from the terms and conditions of the material. If you are not sure how to interpret the terms and conditions of use of learning material, please contact the Library by email at: e-library[at]
  •  If you link an electronic book or article acquired by the Library to a learning environment, please use a remote connection (proxy) link to ensure that members of the University community can open the material directly on their home computer. To create a remote link, add the address ( in front of the material’s normal address. 

The Instructions for teaching website provides information on how to take into account copyright in online teaching and when preparing digital learning materials.

You can use your own videos or CC licensed videos produced by others in your teaching. 

Some of the videos released in the University of Helsinki UniTube service can be used for teaching purposes under a CC licence.

Further information about the use of video in teaching is available (in Finnish and Swedish) on the Operight site.