Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Little sharable digital teaching and learning goods are created

Public actors in the education sector and the current market do not generate sufficiently open or shared digital goods. Digital learning and teaching goods include learning materials (videos, electronic books, podcasts, websites), pedagogical tools, online courses, educational solutions, data interfaces for teaching services and solutions, search engine interfaces, personal data, and digital tools related to the planning, organisation and development of learning and teaching. These goods may also be open (so-called public goods), which means that they can be easily transmitted, duplicated and reused.

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.

    Open digital goods in the field of education could also include smart and consent-based networking channels, in which actors could find the information or development partners they need for their solutions. As necessary, many types of data concerning individuals (the perspective of learning) and teachers (perspective of teaching) could be collected in the education sector in a solution similar to the Kanta services and made available to innovators. Innovation policy should primarily support the accumulation of data and sharing of pedagogical solutions. For example, platforms targeted at teachers can generate significant forward leaps in pedagogical solutions. Consequently, the conditions of public funding could include transparency requirements and sharing obligations. The terms of use should also be defined to support the emergence of a healthy market and to reward such actors as teachers for producing open and shareable goods.

  • 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

Politiikkatoimet alustataloudessa -tutkimushankkeessa on tutkittu alustatalouden kehittymistä opetusalalla.

Only few platforms are created in the field of education

Schools, teachers, and small actors lack incentives and resources for participating in and developing open, platform-based learning solutions.

Department of Industrial Engineering and Management
post it notes on the table

Undeveloped and incomplete data markets

No well-functioning data market has emerged in the field of education.

Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Back to the Policy Brief main page

Opiskelua. Kuvituskuva uutiseen.

How to accelerate the platform economy in the education sector?

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.

Department of Industrial Engineering and Management
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