Little sharable digital teaching and learning goods are created
Challenge: Little sharable digital teaching and learning goods are created
- The current market and incentives do not work. The field of education is exceptional in the sense that goods are available both for open use and for restricted use (behind a paywall and requiring strong identification). The best pedagogical solutions are not shared or used sufficiently, or they are behind paywalls. There is no well-functioning market for shared digital goods, and they cannot be easily integrated. Municipalities comply with their statutory obligations, which lack incentives to produce, use and maintain open and distributable digital goods. Sharing digital goods can promote the realisation of educational and cultural rights and the principle of equality. Up-to-date skills and knowledge are strongly linked to the well-being and competitiveness of the economy and society.
- Lack of guidance and national platform-type solutions. There are no commonly defined standards or rules in place for learning solutions to guide the development of sharable digital goods. The concentration of existing solutions at the municipal level instead of the national level is a challenge to coordination and results in incomplete or closed platforms to which it is difficult to import digital goods. On the other hand, providing access to individual systems through interfaces also increases the number of integrations needed without necessarily helping to make the services more accessible. There is no centralised solution, however, that would gather data to a single depository for the use of several education sector actors. Consequently, data and materials are not accumulated as goods that are equally accessible to everyone. In addition, development funding is strongly project-based, which means that there is no continuity in the creation and maintenance of platform-type solutions.
Recommendation: The sharing of digital goods and their use in teaching should be developed
- Preconditions should be created for sharing and integrating digital goods. It is particularly important for the Finnish National Agency for Education and the Ministry of Education and Culture to clarify the types of digital learning goods and the conditions for producing them. Goods can, for example, be classified into closed and open transaction-based goods, co-developed (crowd-sourced) and openly developed goods (such as Wikipedia, in which the knowledge base can be enriched) and open source commodities, where parallel versions can be made and further developed (forking).
The prerequisites for sharing and integrating digital goods in the education sector should be promoted by developing digital infrastructure through jointly agreed data models and pilot experiments with Mydata models. The data models should be uniform, even if the digital learning goods built on them differ from each other and are thus competitive. Learning services should be understood as part of ecosystem service chains, which are easy to integrate into. To assist developers, documentation should be created that includes information on joint assessment, pedagogical and other practices. Similarly, the actors’ incentives and earnings models should be taken into account in such activities as the production of semi-open commodities (cf. applications in application stores) or open commodities (cf. royalty payments for content producers) and in the development of business models.
- Incentives for openness and sharing should be provided in the development of digital goods. Innovation policy should focus on creating open and shared digital goods for those areas of the education sector where they are not created naturally or adequately. Innovation policy should also promote the creation and development of open learning solution platforms, where actors could participate with a low threshold, for example by producing and sharing learning materials and pedagogical methods. In this case, quality assurance mechanisms for the learning material (crowdsourced quality assurance or quality assurance actors) and efficient targeting of the learning material should also be addressed. However, this does not mean that all learning solutions and learning materials should be open public goods or shared digital assets. Business actors should be allowed to innovatively integrate sharable and non-sharable (proprietary) digital goods in their solutions. Businesses’ incentives for sharing their digital goods should be developed, for example through suitable business models.
- The use of teaching resources should be optimised by means of platform-type solutions. Digitalisation will enable more efficient management of the resources used in teaching when an intelligent algorithm helps match the resources and needs. Different actors’ ability to create digital goods and their unwillingness to share them with others are a significant obstacle to the overall optimisation of resource efficiency. Efficient management of resources is not only a cost issue but also related to learner mobility, teacher development and a more agile offer of teaching. A precondition of intelligent resource management is that facilities, materials, equipment, personnel and other resources are identified and coded in the systems in a machine-readable format. The capabilities created by the resources must also be identified in order to match them to an identified need. The technical prerequisite for full optimisation is the sharing and matching of resource data according to the agreed specifications. Digitalisation extends intelligent resource management beyond the school environment. In addition to distance learning, methods for evaluating content and solutions based on crowdsourcing can be a faster and more comprehensive way of operating than the traditional evaluation model.
Other challenges and recommendations
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We make recommendations related to innovation policy aiming to accelerate the development and growth of the platform economy in the education sector. The key themes of the recommendations are cooperation, common rules and openness.