10. Regional Differences

Though there are differences between the experience of a Canadian program and an American program when it comes to starting up and maintaining an OER program, much more can be seen in the differences from province to province and state to state. States and provinces with prominent legislative and executive support of open education will, of course, typically find it easier to start a program. This is thanks to both funding and a generally higher institutional opinion of OER and awareness of its existence. Programs in provinces and states that don’t have this level of support often spend a larger portion of their time on advocacy than their counterparts, who may focus more on the production or adaptation of open educational resources.

SUNY and University of Texas at Arlington are both good examples of programs that have flourished in part due to their governing region’s support of open education; both programs are in states which have in recent years seen major government-driven progress for open education. Both states have dedicated funding specifically to improving and accelerating the creation of open educational course materials and courses. In general, funding was less of a barrier to success for these two entities than others in the study. eCampusOntario institutions (including Ryerson University, Seneca College, and the University of Guelph) are in an interesting position of existing in a province which used to provide more funding for open education than they do now. With a recent change in government came a new funding structure and a change in how eCampusOntario issues calls for new projects.

Government commitment to open education also helps to establish top-down administrative investment at affected institutions. Reed from University of Texas at Arlington states that not only is the state of Texas committed to OER, but the University of Texas system itself has shown a marked dedication to open education. Other interviewees note that support from high-level administrators at their institution had a significant positive effect on the program’s perceived credibility and general on-campus awareness of open education.

By recognizing how regional politics and attitudes affect open education, program leaders can effectively structure OER production programs in a way that addresses the correlating need for advocacy in their area. For instance, a program in a state or province that does not yet promote open educational resources may dedicate more time and resources to advocacy and education than production for the first years of their program.

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LIBRARY is the new PUBLISHER by Taylor McGrath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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