The Effects of Government Funding
Public funding and government support is beneficial for OER programs. However, this presents a problem for programs’ solvency and sustainability. Because governments change over time, funding cannot be guaranteed even year to year. Even programs like SUNY that are currently well-funded by state grants are actively planning ahead for ways to create a sustainable business model and decrease their dependency on unreliable funding.
While in most cases getting faculty to believe in and support the OER movement is just a matter of education and advocacy, getting faculty to create open educational resources is a more complex issue. Not all institutions have the infrastructure in place to give faculty enough incentive to take on a project. One such incentive is course releases. Institutions like UTA do not yet have clear processes in place to allow faculty to dedicate their time to OER production. At Seneca, only a small number of faculty can qualify. Another incentive is recognition of a publication for inclusion in review and tenure packets. Though the process may differ from program to program, open educational resources are not guaranteed to count toward a faculty author’s tenure application. This can discourage faculty from wanting to sacrifice the substantial amount of time it takes to author a text.
A Search for Sustainability
Many of the OER efforts described in this study are nascent. In current stages, these schools’ thoughts are first and foremost focused on building workflows that are financially sustainable and can be grown over time. In some cases, this involves increasing advocacy and building relationships with faculty or other departments on campus. In other cases, the demand for OER may soon exceed what the program is capable of providing, and there’s a need to either grow the program or establish what maximum capacity looks like. Institutions are experimenting with business models that they hope will allow them to build lasting OER programs that aren’t dependent on unreliable third-party grants or government funding and will allow them to meet the needs for open resources at their institution.