Collaboration Sharing economy Social Software

Open Education, Personal Learning and National Policies

Scanned image of US stamp issued in 1956. Friendship is the key to world peace.

I just finished co-authoring of an article for a book that will be published by (and for) the Parliament of Finland. The title of the article is “Open learning – the end of teaching?”. In it we try to explain what open education and personal learning are and what kind of scenarios there are related to the theme. We present three scenarios:

  1. Society of independent learning communities
  2. Academic capitalism
  3. Small entrepreneurs of open education

We do not value the scenarios anyhow. We aim to leave that for the reader.

We do, however, claim that a society of independent learning communities is a risk. With it we may loose the society wide cohesion and responsibility. In this case there would be some great communities but also some extremely nonconstructive one.

We also show how academic capitalism valuing highly knowledge with high exchange value (patents and immaterial right) is partly dominating, but also partly withdrawing trend. Open Access, open scientific data, free culture, Wikipedia/Wikimedia and open courseware movements are examples of the change. The knowledge with high use value (not necessary exchange value) has shown to be providing, in a long run, more value for the mankind at large.

With the small entrepreneurs scenario we build on the Ivan Illich’s deschooling idea. According to Illich:

“A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known.”

Some kind of “deschooling” would naturally require network of entrepreneurs interested in to operate in the area. If doing it with public funds it would make sense that all online activities are open and transparent for all.

We see that most likely in the future we will se features of all three scenarios. How national policy could then respond to the challenge? We propose five action points:

  • We should invest to all citizens — including adults — ability to build good national online culture that will provide bases for the constructive open education online.
  • We should expand the concept of “liberal education” / “free adult education” in the legislation so that public funding could be allocated also for individual citizens, organizations and businesses and not only for the established institutions.
  • The public funding should operate so that it would allow direct support for individual open online courses.
  • We should more widely recognize — also outside the “liberal education / “free adult education” — that studying and learning is not only a matter of reaching economical goals but as a such increases people’s happiness and wellbeing.
  • Government should provide the most critical social media services for learning and research purposes.

With these action we have a chance to maintain the happy family we have been for a long time. Righ now it looks that we may loose it.

“All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. ” – Leo Tolstoy

I was last weekend in Copenhagen. I learned a lot about many things. I have been many times in Copenhagen but only now realized that it is a happy family.

With the Tolstoy’s thought in mind I am now really interested in to study “happy families”. Whatever you consider your “family” to be a modern nuclear family, commune, neighborhood, language or racial group or an online community they resemble one another. They are mutually supportive and empathic.

2 replies on “Open Education, Personal Learning and National Policies”

Me parece excelente el planteamiento realizado. Creo que hace falta una reflexiòn fuerte en esta àrea.

I think is an excellent proposal, we need to promote this reflection all over our countries.

Thanks Teemu


Gracias Selin,

He leido tu post aqui – muy interesante:

When thinking the “skills” needed both in professional life and as a citizen in future, I think we can not enough emphasis human capital that is able to maintain and promote good “online culture”. Actually, we should probably get back to think about the virtues of human behavior.

How do we promote them online? I don’t know but I have some ideas. I know that a postage stamp is not the right media. 🙂


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