Open learning materials promote the development of teaching and boost students’ progress in studies.
Open Science and Research in Education
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.
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:
- Helsinki University Library: How to find open e-resources
- National Library of Finland: Open resources to support research and teaching
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.
- 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]helsinki.fi.
- 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 (http://login.libproxy.helsinki.fi/login?url=) 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.
Open access learning materials can be defined by applying the UNESCO’s definition of open educational resourcesOER): “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
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.
You can publish your learning material, for example, in the Library of Open Educational Resources (aoe.fi), coordinated by CSC – IT Center for Science.
Various peer-review processes can also be applied to open access learning material.
- For example, of the textbooks published in the Open Textbook Library, approximately 60% have undergone a review in which they are assessed on various criteria. Assessments of individual publications can be found under “Reviews”.
- You can also assess open learning materials, for example, by applying the peer review report form drawn up by the MERLOT Consortium.
When assessing open learning material, pay attention to the following aspects:
- Who or what organisation has prepared the material?
- Is a description of the terms and conditions or any licence provided with the material?
- When has the learning material last been updated? Is it up to date?
- Is the material usable? How well is it suited to its purpose?
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.
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.