The platform economy challenges traditional operating models, innovation activities, and competitiveness in the field of education. Digital platforms enable individual and customised learning solutions and service models as well as resource-efficient, optimised and safe learning and learning data and teaching material use. Platform solutions can significantly reduce production and publishing costs (Qiu & Zhang, 2012). Digitalisation and platforms diversify and modify teaching methods, creating new opportunities for interaction between teachers and pupils or students. The student can progress at their own pace, the progress of learning can be supported, tailored and monitored in real time, and learning challenges can be intervened in as they arise.
On digital platforms, a wide range of actors can also participate in innovating and producing the best possible solutions. Digitalisation and platforms also provide the prerequisites for realising the educational and cultural rights associated with education services defined in the Constitution of Finland. Digitalisation and platforms offer new ways to fulfil the obligation of ensuring public access to teaching and the realisation of the principle of equality, for example through open online courses. The production and scaling of language versions can be enhanced with digital platform-based solutions. In fact, education sector actors have developed a wide range of open content solutions, such as opetus.tv, freed.com, and the recently established aoe.fi. In addition, a great deal of open learning material (YouTube videos, etc.) has been developed by teachers, but these resources have not yet been scaled to extensive use.
Digitalisation and platforms bring new challenges to the production of teaching services, particularly in municipalities. The right to basic education free of charge provided for in the Constitution of Finland is a challenge for municipalities in terms of continuously developing digital education services and the increasing need for digital resources. Consequently, the digital development of learning services has been launched in broader groups of actors, including the DigiOne project led by the City of Vantaa.
The platform economy also challenges traditional publishers of learning materials by facilitating access to the field for new digital service providers, including Studeo, FourFerries, Freed and Edute, and by disrupting the traditional form and use of learning materials (textbooks and exercises) (Bailey et al., 2014; Qiu and Zhang, 2012). Despite this, learning material publishers have maintained their established position as producers and distributors of these materials. Their established position has been achieved through long-term cooperation with teachers, publishers and official teaching bodies (Tavia, 2020). Cooperation between these parties has ensured that the content is pedagogically correct and compatible with the curriculum (Sewall, 2005). Large publishers have had sufficient resources to ensure the quality and versatility of their content. The market position of teaching material publishers is difficult to challenge in the current situation, in which publishers have also rapidly developed their own digital learning services for schools and teachers.