Genesis of the Open Learning Institute of British Columbia

Louise Moran

VOL. 8, No. 1, 43-70


As "correspondence study" gave way to "distance education," so now the latter is giving way to "open learning," as distance and face-to-face education converge; an outcome of the increasing availability of information and communications technologies. The change raises important questions about the nature and practice of distance education in the future and about relations among institutions and with government. The roots of present policy, practice, and political tensions are to be found in the history of distance education institutions, including the factors giving rise to the institution's creation. Analysis of these factors can illuminate the forces driving distance education. This paper addresses these issues in relation to a notable Canadian single-mode institution, the Open Learning Institute (OLI) of British Columbia (1978–1988). It explores the significance of external political and educational influences on the nature and shape of a new, unusual educational institution. The educational and political context of British Columbia prior to 1978 is briefly described as a prelude to closer examination of the events, attitudes, and conflicts following the 1975 election of a Social Credit government, through to OLI's creation. Conclusions are drawn about implications of this period of OLI's history for analysis of current changes in distance and higher education.


Suite à une disponibilité croissante de technologies éducatives et de communication et parallèlement à une convergence entre l'éducation à distance et en face à face, « l'éducation à distance », qui avait à son heure r e m p l a c é « l'étude par correspondance », cède maintenant le pas à « l'apprentissage ouvert ». Cette transformation soulève des questions touchant l'avenir de la définition et de l'exercice de l'éducation à distance et les relations entre institutions et avec les gouvernements. Les politiques, pratiques et tensions politiques actuelles sont le fruit de l'histoire de ces institutions, notamment des facteurs qui ont donnée lieu à leur fondation. Soumis à l'analyse, ces facteurs sont en mesure de nous éclairer sur les forces mises en jeu. Le présent texte s'adresse à ces questions avec comme objet d'étude le Open Learning Institute (OLI) de Colombie-Britannique (1978–1988), une institution canadienne unimodale notable. Il s'intéresse au rôle des influences des contextes politiques et éducatifs externes sur la nature et la forme adoptée par cette institution d'éducation très particulière. Un survol de ces contextes, dans la C.-B. des années précédant la fondation de l'OLI, sert de préambule à un examen plus attentif des événements, attitudes et conflits qui ont suivi l'arrivée au pouvoir en 1975 du parti Social Credit et précédé la fondation de l'OLI en 1978. Les implications de cette période de l'histoire de l'OLI permettent de tirer des conclusions utiles à l'analyse des transformations actuelles de l'éducation à distance et des études supérieures.


The history of distance education is marked by three phases, the third of which we are just now entering. The first, and by far the longest, went from the 1840s in Europe and America, and the 1890s in Canada and Australia, to the late 1960s. "Correspondence study," or "education by post," was characterized by a primary emphasis on printed notes and no, or very little, additional support to students (see Erdos, 1967; Harris, 1967; Holmberg, 1989). The second phase, exemplified by the single-mode open universities, became known as "distance education," and reached its zenith in the 1980s. Printed learning materials continued to dominate the communications media, but the pedagogical strategies and computer-based production technologies underpinning their development and delivery produced marked improvements in quality. The second phase was also marked by an interest in new audiovisual and other communications media and by new, integrated systems for development and delivery. Peters called this an industrial form of education (1969, 1971, 1989; Jevons, 1986), and others have commented on the distinctive organizational structures and processes it has engendered (e.g., Rumble & Harry, 1982; Rumble, 1986). In a sense, distance education moved to one end of the educational spectrum, away from face-to-face education, as distance educators sought to define and justify distance education as a unique, but legitimate and effective form of teaching/learning.

It is evident that we are moving into a third phase, albeit in a somewhat confused fashion rather than in a clear, linear progression. The third phase can no longer be accurately called "distance education" because it is converging with classroom-based teaching methods to form something new and, as yet, unsatisfactorily labelled. The communications and information technologies now available, at least in the industrialized world, are beginning to affect the nature and practice of higher education as profoundly as did the printing press and the industrial revolution. Distance educators have been in the forefront of experiments with their use in the 1980s, although print-related technologies have continued to dominate. This is rapidly changing as prices tumble, computer-based technologies become normal parts of daily life and work, and access to the necessary hardware increases. They are poised to become standard elements of face-to-face teaching as well as of more unconventional forms. The third phase will eventually be characterized by "virtual classroom" electronics and by a completely open conception of design and teaching in which both teachers and learners can choose the media and location best suited to the subject and their needs.

Political and economic pressures within and outside higher education are also stimulating convergence. Government and employers' demands for rationalization, accountability, relevance to economic and social policy, and mass expansion at the cheapest possible price are, if anything, accelerating in today's climate of right-wing economic rationalism. These demands will place new pressures on distance educators' relations with others in higher education and with funding agencies, especially government. They will raise questions, inter alia, about whether single-mode institutions (distance or conventional) can maintain their hegemony as the two ends of the spectrum merge.

Changes of this magnitude do not occur overnight. They must be understood in the context of social and educational change and conflict over several decades. More specifically, their genesis is to be found in the history of distance education institutions, including the factors giving rise to the institution's creation. Analysis of these factors can illuminate the forces driving distance education to one end of the spectrum in the second phase. This paper addresses these issues in relation to a notable Canadian single- mode institution, the Open Learning Institute (OLI) of British Columbia (B.C.).1 OLI was created on June 1, 1978 with an unusually wide mandate: to award its own undergraduate degrees in arts and sciences and to offer non-degree credentials in career, vocational, technical, and adult basic education subjects.2 This meant that OLI straddled the university and college sectors. Moreover, the Institute was charged to teach solely by distance education means and to work in collaboration with other institutions. These were also unusual and, to many, suspect features. The Institute was greeted by fierce, prolonged opposition from other universities and colleges in B.C. Some of the factors underlying OLI's genesis were uniquely local. Others exemplify the difficulties of introducing change in higher education and reveal the intricate interplay of political, social, and economic forces that make up higher and distance education policy and practice. Accordingly, the educational and political context of British Columbia prior to 1978 is briefly described as a prelude to a closer examination of the events, attitudes, relationships, and conflicts in the critical two-and-a-half year period prior to OLI's creation. Conclusions are drawn about implications of this period of OLI's history for analysis of current changes in distance and higher education.

The Environment of British Columbia

British Columbia's geography, economy, and politics have profoundly affected the province's educational life and location of its universities and colleges. B.C. is a vast, topographically and climatically complex region whose physical extremes have contributed greatly to a persistent "frontier" quality in B.C. society; to the homogeneity, isolation, and self-reliance of hinterland communities; and to a notable division between metropolitan and rural allegiances (Robin, 1978; Ellis & Mugridge, 1983). It is also a rapidly growing province. The population trebled after World War II, reaching 2.7 million by 1981. People have concentrated in the southern part of B.C.; by the 1980s, some 54% lived in the Lower Mainland and another 18% on Vancouver Island (Barman, 1991). One consequence has been a geographic polarization of political views, with hinterland people resenting Lower Mainland "economic parasites" who preyed on those in the less developed areas while generating little wealth themselves (Barman, 1991, pp. 293–294). Such views have strongly influenced government sensitivities to the demands of voters in non-metropolitan areas. City growth also stimulated protests about urban sprawl. Decentralization and regional growth became popular political policies in the 1970s (Hardwick, 1974; Miller, 1975).

The distinctive nature of B.C. politics is one key to understanding why OLI was created and its intended mission. The moderately left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) has consistently enjoyed almost half the popular vote since World War II, in contrast to its third party status in federal politics. The NDP has been closely aligned with a strongly-organized labour movement in the cities and company towns, and with professionals, intellectuals, and civil servants (Harris, 1987). Its chief rival, the Social Credit Party, was populist, fiercely pro-free-enterprise, and often unpredictable. It was also remarkably successful at the ballot box, holding power almost continuously from 1952 to 1991 (the NDP governed from 1972– 1975). This was partly due to persistent gerrymandering in favour of rural constituencies and to the Social Credit Party's (Socred) populist emphasis on unbridled economic development. Education, health, and social welfare came a poor second to the establishment of technical and physical infrastructures to aid free enterprise and to encourage tertiary and service industries (Robin, 1965; Barman, 1991). Human capital and equity arguments pervading other Canadian governments by the mid-1960s came only slowly to the Socreds because of their overwhelming emphasis on free enterprise, in which success was reckoned in financial terms and achieved through individual efforts.

Expansion of Higher Education

As the 1960s began, publicly-funded higher education in B.C. comprised the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, its affiliated Victoria College, on Vancouver Island, and a scattering of small, non-degree institutions. Although post-secondary enrolments more than doubled between 1955 and 1961, the province relied heavily for its professional class on training undertaken elsewhere in Canada and overseas. The Socreds acceded to growing pressures in the 1960s for expansion of higher education opportunities. When OLI was created in 1978, it joined an hierarchical provincial education system comprising three public universities in one sector and five provincial institutes and 14 community colleges in another sector. The two had distinctive mandates, roles, and prestige. Only the universities could award degrees and conduct research.

These distinctions relied on assumptions about the relative values of liberal, professional, and vocational education, and their relationship to the economy. The universities, especially UBC, increasingly devoted their attention to professional programs and graduate studies. The colleges provided a "cooling out function" (Clark, 1961) for the many unable or unwilling to meet the more rigorous academic standards of the universities. They catered to lower level and skills-based orders of knowledge, leaving intellectual supremacy to the universities, especially UBC (Macdonald, 1962; McGeer, 1972). Their task was defined in 1973 as providing career, vocational, and technical programs; university transfer programs; adult basic education; adult education; and educational advisory and community services (L'Estrange, 1974, p. 34). The colleges themselves, however, pursued an alternative ideology and culture, based on concepts of public accountability, local orientation, accessibility to all citizens, and relevant, comprehensive curricula (Beinder, 1986; Dennison & Gallagher, 1986). It was a highly effective approach. By 1978, total college enrolments equalled those of the universities; the high (61%) proportion of part-time college enrolments indicated adults were returning to study in significant numbers (McGee, 1984).

Unlike the universities, whose budgets and programs were coordinated through a Universities Council, the colleges and institutes came under close government scrutiny and ministerial control during the 1970s. The Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act of 1977 - an early action of Socred Minister of Education, Patrick McGeer - created a centralized labyrinth of coordinating councils and ministry bodies. The government used these mechanisms to allocate resources and influence, if not control, over curriculum priori-ties. An elaborate subject articulation system for credit transfer from college to university enabled the latter to determine standards and curriculum.

Correspondence study was a minor and typically poorly-regarded aspect of university activity prior to the 1970s. At UBC, for example, correspondence credit enrolments had dropped steadily since the 1960s, to 486 in 1972–1973 (Selman, 1976, p. 39). Many UBC faculty considered correspondence study a second-rate and peripheral form of education. The University maintained a conservative stance towards academic standards and teaching methods. Obstacles to part-time study were only reluctantly removed in 1972–1973.

There were, nevertheless, signs in the early 1970s that the second phase of distance education was emerging in B.C., encouraged by the NDP government's interest in and funding to improve educational access and take research and teaching to where people are.4 In 1974–1975, the universities sent professors to teach some face-to-face programs in larger non-metropolitan centres. At the University of Victoria (UVic), the Division of Continuing Education experimented with new telecommunications technologies and gradually persuaded that University to extend its range and variety of off-campus teaching (Haughey, 1985). Simon Fraser University (SFU) established early on an interest in innovative organizational structures, interdisciplinary approaches, and an emphasis on part-time enrolments (UCBC, 1986). By 1973, 19% of its undergraduate enrolments were part-time and the University had begun teaching some of its professional education programs at off-campus sites (Layton, 1984). UBC started to improve the instructional and presentation quality of its print materials and to experiment with video and telephone teaching; correspondence enrolments began to rise again.5

A second important sign of change came through the universities' continuing educators meeting as the Tri-University Committee, many of whose members subsequently played important roles in OLI's history. The Committee spent the early 1970s lobbying for creation of a new provincial agency that would offer an eclectic general degree on behalf of the three universities, so that part-time students could complete a degree and new educational opportunities would open up for adults (Jeffels, 1972).6 The Committee pointed to changing patterns of study, as more people were reluctant to commit a block of years to continuous study straight after school and the growth rate of undergraduate full-time enrolment slowed down. Meanwhile, the colleges, especially those in non-metropolitan areas, were graduating two-year academic program students who wished to complete undergraduate degrees without the prohibitive cost or dislocation of full-time study. Educational technologies were now too expensive to duplicate at all facilities and would be more wisely shared. However, adult students seeking to complete degrees faced multiple obstacles. The concept of institutional "ownership" of a student made inter-university movement almost impossible and severely limited inter-university credit transfer. Institutional policies on mature students, admissions, residential requirements, degree structures, and timetables differed. Evening and off-campus offerings were unpredictable and students had no assurance that they would be able to complete their chosen programs. Non-metropolitan residents had virtually no opportunity for completing the third and fourth years of a degree through any coherent program unless they were willing and able to move to the city. However, the Tri-University Committee's imaginative proposal could not overcome universities' distaste for coordinated action and colleges' alarm at the prospect of a credit bank infringing on the range and flexibility of their own offerings, thereby threatening their still fragile viability.

Another premature proposal came in 1973 from John Ellis (later OLI's founding Principal) for creation of a "B.C.-style open university," adapted from the youthful British version. Ellis pointed to two central assumptions of the British Open University (BOU): that many people could benefit from higher education but were unable to attend a campus; and that it was possible to offer a high quality education away from a campus. Some progress had been made towards the former in B.C. He argued that the latter implied "profound instructional, social, and economic consequences" and that there must be a "goodness of fit" of an open university with its environment. What worked for the BOU would not necessarily work in B.C. Prophetically, Ellis added it would take external governmental pressure to force the changes that would be needed in and among the universities (Ellis, 1973).

Another sign of change appeared in the college system when, in 1975, the NDP created four new colleges in more remote, less populated parts of the province. North Island College (NIC), based on Vancouver Island, chose an alternative route to conventional college teaching methods and, in so doing, laid claim to being B.C.'s first distance education or "open learning" institution. NIC completely decentralized its largely part-time educational delivery, using community learning centres in small population centres. It combined face-to-face teaching, individualized learning materials, mobile learning units, and, later, television and computers (Forsythe, 1979). It relied on tutor-facilitators (mostly part-time), who were selected for their breadth of teaching skills and knowledge rather than in-depth subject expertise. NIC's unorthodoxy drew criticism from some educational quarters, including those involved in creating OLI, but captured the imagination of several key Ministry figures.7

One may pause here to consider similar kinds of signs of change in our present environment that are shaping the third phase of distance education. In general terms, these trends include the rise in mid- career education, enabling workers and professionals to update or diversify their knowledge and skills without leaving work or home duties. Another is the growing interest in inter-institutional collaboration and establishment of extensive credit transfer systems and articulated pathways through credentials. A third, of course, is the increased accessibility and power of communications technologies. These trends suggest more flexible modes of teaching/learning, and more permeable forms of organizational structure and systems than ever before. They also imply shifts in relationships among higher distance education institutions, their educational peers, the state, and employers. The alarming trend towards greater external political control of higher and distance education became most noticeable in British Columbia, and elsewhere in Canada, in the mid-late 1970s.

Social Credit, Mcgeer, and Hardwick

The Social Credit Party regained power in December 1975. The new Minister for Education, Patrick McGeer, did not fit the typical anti-intellectual Socred mould. McGeer had joined UBC in 1954, combining an increasingly illustrious research career as a neurologist with an active political life as an MLA, first as a Liberal, then as a Social Crediter in 1975. McGeer saw education as a strong ally in dealing with "unpleasant" aspects of society - "unemployment, dreary jobs, pollution, social unrest," and proposed five ways of opening up the higher education system (McGeer, 1972, pp. 39–41). The first was to provide an adequate number of places, distributed around the province. The second was to increase points of entry into the system, through ladders or tiers of access. Thirdly, he sought to reduce the exclusivity created by arbitrary educational hurdles, by easing admission requirements, making education more appropriate to adults' needs, and expanding part-time programs. McGeer's fourth measure was the use of educational television, which he saw as "the greatest untapped educational resource of all." It must occupy an important role in educational planning, in company with policies designed to encourage "sunrise," high technology industries into B.C. Finally, he wished to improve labour force skills, in the belief that education could be the salvation of the unskilled, the uneducated, and the unemployed. He later observed that the major gap in B.C.'s higher education system in 1975 was "its inability to deliver advanced education to people who were outside the mainstream," geographically or because of age or financial circumstances.8

McGeer was introduced to distance education early in 1976 through a visit to the British Open University where he was impressed with the quality of the BOU's science courses and its distance education model. His first impressions never faded and strongly influenced the version he sought for B.C. However, whereas the BOU was created by a left-wing government eager to open up higher education to the working classes (Tunstall, 1974; Perry, 1976), McGeer is viewed in some B.C. educational circles as an "elitist" who considered the university as the true place for high quality research and the most intellectually able students. Thus, satellites could potentially provide less expensive, lower level education to a broader range of people, freeing institutions like UBC to focus their energies on the really important traditional university work of higher level teaching and research. In other words, this was an updated version of Clark's "cooling out" theory (Clark 1961). Others argue that McGeer was impatient with university conservatism and unwillingness to respond quickly to new economic and technological circumstances, and that his passionate interest in science, technology, and telecommunications drove his desire to foster a more scientifically proficient society by expanding science education.

McGeer appointed Walter Hardwick as his Deputy Minister.9 Hardwick, too, was a UBC academic, an urban geographer with a strong concern about over-concentration of population and resources in the Lower Mainland. Hardwick had been arguing since 1958 for decentralized post-secondary education in B.C. to help counteract demographic pressures, to encourage qualified professionals to move to the interior, and to generate economic and social prosperity in B.C.'s hinterland.

Hardwick was pragmatic, a populist commited to economic development through human resource development. 10 He came to the job of Deputy Minister having already visited the BOU. Its use of television, in particular, impressed him as having potential for B.C., though he downplayed the fact that television took up 20% of the BOU's budget for only 5% of its study time (Perry, 1976, p. 268). He came to define distance education especially in terms of educational broadcasting.

Both forceful people whose views, once fixed, were hard to change, the two men forged a formidable partnership when they gained power. Both were imaginative, fascinated by technology, and impatient with institutional immobility. They brought to politics and educational administration an irreverence and distaste for administrative niceties and conventions. Some felt they ignored their Ministry staff when it suited them and sometimes communicated their intentions poorly; others enjoyed the ambiguity and "breath of fresh air." Perhaps as a result of their research backgrounds, they were inclined to experiment with new institutional forms rather than try endlessly to change existing institutions. Their approach was to let everyone compete and may the best one win - an attitude abundantly visible in the lead-up to OLI's establishment. They took hold of an educational system based on hierarchies of status and knowledge and strong territorial imperatives, but containing also significant pockets of interest in educational innovation.

Educational Commissions 1976–1977

Determined to stamp his own mark on B.C.'s higher education system, McGeer quickly commissioned a series of reports on post-secondary education that were expected to take into account the technological needs of the B.C. economy and the educational potential of the new technologies. The (Winegard) Commission on University Programs in Non-Metropolitan Areas was appointed in May 1976 and reported that September. It over-lapped in time and shared some public hearings with reviews of continuing and community education chaired by Ronald Faris (1976), and of vocational, technical and trades training chaired by Dean Goard (1977). All identified a sense of deprivation among non- metropolitan residents and an unmet demand for educational opportunities that did not require people to leave home. For the first time, the new sophisticated form of "distance education" was seriously proposed as a government and institutional option and justified within prevailing rhetoric about economic prosperity and lifelong learning. Public interest was intense, especially outside the Lower Mainland, and the Minister and his Deputy had read the mood correctly, although Socred Party interest remained limited.

The Goard and Faris reports made their mark on government policy and OLI's mandate, but most publicity and debate centred on Winegard's report. Winegard covered familiar ground: the lack of opportunity for non-metropolitan citizens to complete a first degree without re-location to the city; inadequate inter-university transfer arrangements; the lack of technical and professional educational opportunities in the hinterland; and difficulties of terrain, climate, and extremes in population density. His solution was to create, by 1990, a multi-campus university, which began as a separately funded Division of Simon Fraser University, in four small non-metropolitan 11 Each centre would employ a small number of faculty to teach four or five major programs face-to-face. They and professors from the main campus would also offer courses at a distance. The Division would offer upper-level degree-completion programs in arts, science, commerce, and education. These would come mainly from SFU's programs, but Winegard proposed SFU should cooperate with UBC to offer professional programs in forestry, and with UBC and UVic to offer nursing. He recommended creation of a separately funded unit of the community colleges (as did Faris) to provide a core of first and second year academic courses at a distance and thus ensure a full degree program could be offered.

Winegard rejected UBC's proposal for university centres located at community colleges but staffed and run by UBC. These would clone UBC's traditional face-to-face teaching patterns on the grounds that nothing else would properly maintain degree standards. 12 UBC did not allow for those who could not attend such centres, although its distance education activities could by now have been a valuable base for expansion. SFU, on the other hand, had pointed to its off-campus teacher training programs, small distance teaching program at Kelowna, and directed independent study courses, in support of its interest in expanding further in the Interior. Simon Fraser's limited number of professional programs was a drawback, but its reputation for innovation in curriculum and teaching suggested a willingness to consider unconventional ways of solving the problem.

The Interior University Programs Board

By early 1977, then, McGeer and Hardwick had reports evincing a need to deliver education in ways significantly different from traditional campus-based forms and a demand for a wide range of educational programs throughout the province, especially for adults. They were probably already contemplating some kind of new provincial distance education agency as a consequence of their contacts with the BOU, but their options were still open and they responded rapidly with a clutch of follow-up studies and structural and financial action.

The universities received $200,000 for detailed planning of non-metropolitan programs ($120,000 to SFU), and $3 million was earmarked in the 1977–1978 Education budget for expansion of non- metropolitan programs. In June 1977 an Interior University Programs Board (IUPB) was created to oversee these developments. McGeer instructed the universities to produce a single, coordinated plan under the aegis of the IUPB, but conflict developed over the next year among the three universities, with UBC and UVic unwilling to cede control or territory to SFU.

The IUPB made recommendations to the Universities Council (UCBC), and thence to the Minister, regarding disbursements from the non-metropolitan funds vote. The Board was not a formal body of UCBC but was regarded as an "unlegislated committee" of the Council. Hardwick used the IUPB as a stop-gap mechanism to disburse monies allocated in the 1977– 1978 fiscal year for non- metropolitan programs. By doing so, he bypassed the usual channels to minimize anticipated inter- institutional rivalry, while continuing to plan the development of a provincial distance education agency of some kind. 13 The Board comprised four non-metropolitan people appointed by the Minister, one by UCBC, and one by each of the universities. Non-metropolitan interests could therefore prevail in the Board but be overturned by the Council. Despite its odd status, the universities treated the IUPB as a firm policy initiative and funding mechanism for their non-metropolitan plans, especially for professional continuing education, non-credit courses (IUPB, 1978, pp. 1–2; Layton, 1984).

Reviewing Winegard's proposals, the IUPB concluded that student demand for third and fourth year programs in the Interior was likely to be small and that Winegard's centres would not meet his own economic criteria. A single new provincial university in the Interior did not seem feasible, but the Board did not abandon the idea entirely. At the same time, it regarded distance learning programs as "the only form of university service that can be made available on a regular basis to persons in many isolated communities," and it was prepared to recommend extensive support for such developments (IUPB, 1978, p. 7). The universities debated the form and control of such distance education programs within that framework.

UBC argued Winegard's structure would dilute academic standards and quality of graduates and would waste precious education dollars on a dubious form of education for which the actual level of demand was uncertain. Moreover, UBC was concerned that a contractual arrangement through SFU would relinquish UBC's academic control and diminish its pre-eminence in professional and graduate education and research. UBC continued to argue for mini-faculties of arts in two centres, alongside the local college but controlled entirely from UBC. Such mini-faculties would offer regular UBC courses in arts and education through face-to-face instruction. 14 UVic's main concern was to ensure it had a more active role in mainland education, especially in professional areas like education and social work. SFU's potential dominance was important insofar as it might limit this ambition (Haughey, 1985). IUPB funds paid for development of six new off-campus credit courses in social work and education, complementing the 19 offered in 1976–1977 to 345 students. The University also participated in educational experiments on the Hermes satellite later in 1977 and expressed interest in offering programs in the Kootenays, using the campus of the bynow defunct Notre Dame University at Nelson (IUPB, 1978; Layton, 1984; Haughey, 1985).

Simon Fraser University accepted Winegard's overall concept. 15 A senior planning committee prepared a detailed proposal in the first half of 1977 to solve the "connected problems of making available university programs of continuing high quality and of stimulating economic development in areas distant from the major population centres." Committee members included John Ellis, OLI's first Principal. Its views were publicly apparent by May; the final report was accepted by SFU's Senate in September.

16 The proposal combined a province-wide distance education system with a series of specialist, quasi-professional university schools located in larger Interior centres. The University rejected UBC's concept of classroom-based, mini- faculties, arguing that they would not solve the accessibility problem. The range of courses would be severely limited and academic standards might well slip with insufficient "mass" of faculty in any one discipline to encourage specialization, research, and intellectual stimulation. The centres would suffer from remote control by the university proper and would not contribute to regional development or provide job-market skills unless their programs were geared to that region.

The SFU plan defined distance education as:

An education program where the student undertakes to complete a course of studies with material prepared by faculty who remain, for the most part, at a distance from him [sic]. In most cases the student is responsible for determining the place and time of his [sic] study. Instructional materials may include a full array of media, from print to video cassettes. Two-way communication between teacher and student occurs through written and printed words, telephone, and recorded information. Students may be assisted by local tutors and other students and, depending on course requirements, may meet the teacher in intensive seminars, short courses, or laboratory sessions. 17 This definition exemplified the processes, structures, and values under-pinning the second phase of distance education and distinguishing it from conventional methods. It foreshadowed Keegan's 1980 taxonomy of distance education, and it reflected contemporary efforts to define the field (e.g., Holmberg, 1969, 1978; Mackenzie & Christensen, 1971; Perry, 1976). SFU was at pains to distinguish its version from older forms of correspondence study, arguing the latter's deficiencies could be rectified through a coherent curriculum expressly designed for teaching at a distance, academic department responsibility for the quality and supervision of its program, empirically-based course development procedures, and provision of local tutorial and administrative support services. The distance education program would be coordinated from the main SFU campus, with an administrative unit located in each regional university centre, and other outreach study centres as needed. This administrative unit would also support the work of the specialist regional school.

The SFU proposal for a School of Resource Management, to be located in Kelowna, failed through a lack of support from the other universities. In addition, although distance education was hardly a high priority at UBC or UVic, they were reluctant to give anyone exclusive rights to the field. SFU insisted in December 1977 that it be designated the only B.C. provider of distance education, claiming only SFU was ready to offer programs at a distance. 18 If others were involved, SFU would be pressured to become a "credit bank," which it was not prepared to do. Clearly defined and funded roles would ensure efficient use of funds and greater accountability. The efficiency and effectiveness of SFU's proposed regional support system would be impaired with more than one university in the field. In this context, inter-institutional cooperation meant only a division of territory on the basis of expertise and non- competing interests, with SFU acceding to UBC responsibility for professional programs and to UVic's interest in social work and public administration. This, SFU was unwilling to do.

Between December 1977 and April 1978 the proposal moved back and forth between the IUPB and the Universities Council, the former approving, the latter finally rejecting it. 19 By that time, the question of provincial distance education had taken a very different turn. It is curious that, throughout the debate over university distance education programs, virtually no reference was made to McGeer's and Hardwick's other distance education plans. It is as though the SFU plan and arguments within the IUPB were occurring in another realm, divorced from the Ministry and college concerns. McGeer and Hardwick made no secret of their interest in some kind of new provincial distance education agency from mid-1977, but the universities were either not listening or were not yet concerned. The inter-university conflict over non-metropolitan programs undoubtedly helped convince McGeer and Hardwick that the universities could not, or would not, act in concert to coordinate offering of university programs in non-metropolitan areas. Moreover, it was possible that the controversial methods of distance education might have a better chance of success in a stand-alone institution than within a conventional university. However, university cooperation had been only one of their options, and only a partial solution to the question of provincial access to all levels and types of post-secondary education.

Distance Education Planning Group

The tenor of SFU's proposals was widely known in B.C. in May 1977, prior to formal establishment of the IUPB in June. Had McGeer and Hardwick intended to accept that proposal, or to regularize the Board's status, they probably would have given a different brief to their Distance Education Planning Group (DEPG). They created the DEPG as a Ministry group in May 1977 to advise Hardwick on development of a "system for the delivery of educational programs and services to students throughout the Province studying in a distance-learning mode." Hardwick specified this covered adult basic education and English as a second language, vocational and technical training, and university and college courses at all four levels of undergraduate study, for adult learners. 20 He maintained a close watch on its work, conducted some of its meetings and negotiations, and oversaw drafting of the final report.

DEPG members had first to become familiar with the new form of "distance education" as others were practising it elsewhere in Canada and the U.K. Hardwick's and McGeer's growing interest in television and telecommunications steered the members of DEPG towards a definition of distance education closely tied to technology. It was concluded that predictions of a slower economy for the 1980s meant that retraining and upgrading would increasingly be the path to employment and higher incomes (Carney, 1977). They identified the clientele as those isolated from traditional learning opportunities by constraints of time (such as shiftwork), social space (e.g., under-educated adults, high school dropouts), geographic space (beyond commuting range of a campus), physical space (elderly, physically handicapped, institutionalized); and those preferring a self-paced learning style. Although specific unmet needs varied, the DEPG agreed the program priorities would be: adult basic education (literacy, numeracy, school completion); employment-related education; and academic education, ranking third and fourth year courses last. Many colleges saw the latter as irrelevant or of limited interest to their clientele, a view McGeer and Hardwick rejected.

The DEPG quickly concluded that the first barrier to distance education was the unfamiliarity of B.C. educators with the nature and capabilities of modern distance education; the task of compiling an inventory became an educational process. In addition, they decided "show and tell" projects in audiovisual media were needed to demonstrate the possibilities of distance education. 21 The predominance of print in most other contemporary distance education programs world-wide was minimized. The "show and tell" programs centred on a Satellite Tele-Education Project (STEP). Announcing it in September 1977, McGeer said: "We must bring the educational mountain to Mohammed. Television is one medium that can replace bricks and mortar very effectively, delivering learning right into the living room." 22 The project tested the use and networking of educational institutions to deliver education through interactive communications among teacher and students and the use of the satellite as a means of equalizing the costs of transmitting educational information and resources province-wide. Between October and December, about 95 hours of interactive broadcasting were distributed over a network of five sites connected to a broadcast-receive terminal at the B.C. Institute of Technology. Eleven agencies, including the three universities and two community colleges, participated. Though the programs were well-received, they were prepared extremely quickly, leaving a misleading impression of the time, expertise, and effort involved. Much of the real cost was hidden in institutional budgets (Bottomley, 1981).

The STEP project generated much interest in the higher education system, but widespread ignorance of recent developments in distance education and communications media remained. There was also considerable scepticism about their potential in local regions. The DEPG Report (Carney 1977) chronicled an ingrained conservatism in universities and colleges, militating against academic credibility for educational innovations. Many institutions considered funds inadequate to mount new programs in any mode and foresaw difficulties in achieving economies of scale. Some regions, especially the north, had limited access to communications media such as cable television and to reliable postal and transport services. There was concern about the time-consuming nature of curriculum development if high-quality learning materials were to be produced. Faculty feared distance education would threaten conventional programs, jobs, and control over their teaching. Others were concerned about the inadequacy of student support services; the lack of appropriate training opportunities for faculty members in course preparation and delivery techniques; and constraints on cooperative use of learning materials imposed by legal and practical problems of copyright. These were formidable objections that the DEPG made little effort to solve; that was a task for the new agency.

The DEPG was instructed from the outset to plan a new organization including an educational television service. DEPG members assumed the organization would be primarily concerned with course production (print, audiotapes, video programs, educational television) and the mechanics of delivery (post, courier, telephone services, television, and library services), rather than with the actual teaching. By August 1977 they were calling it an "Institute for Educational Resources," whose role would be to draw together resources at the community level, to supply technical and professional expertise, and to contract with institutions and particular educators to produce programs in a selected area. 23 The final report, in December, recommended creation of a new educational institute "as the provincial agency responsible for the development of distance education and delivery systems" (Carney, 1977, p. 3). The institute should be primarily a "utility agency" supporting the post-secondary education system, providing centralized services for delivery normally through existing institutions. Credential- granting powers were not specified.

Larry Blake, then Principal of Fraser Valley College, had observed in June 1977 that "the proposed Institute is feared as a controlling device, not as a service device." 24 The DEPG Report was widely interpreted in the higher education system as a service agency. It generated some publicity as a futuristic distance education program but, from their later surprise and outrage, it is unlikely the universities or colleges realized McGeer had more elaborate plans in train. Hardwick had already approached John Ellis, Director of Graduate Programs at SFU, about heading the new institute. Hardwick certainly had no intention of accepting this more limited role, later recalling:

If it was going to have any legitimacy, it was going to have to have its own right to grant degrees. Otherwise you would be entirely captive of the other institutions. So once we made the decision that we had to go for an Institute, we had to give it that kind of power or else it would be self-defeating. 25 The DEPG emphasized the vocational and other non-degree needs of non-metropolitan citizens. McGeer and Hardwick tended to ignore these and spoke mainly in terms of degree provision, for which the BOU served as their point of reference for standards and quality. To quote McGeer:

If we could have snapped our fingers and created an open university exactly modelled on the Great Britain style with a companion institution to cover the things that were non-university, we would have done it. 26 That was not financially or politically feasible, and McGeer and Hardwick were growing impatient with university obfuscation and slowness. They tried the next best option, a quick solution using the UK Open University. The Open University (OU) was by now capitalizing on worldwide interest by offering its services for a fee and selling its course materials. In November 1977, McGeer told the OU he wanted to create an open university along similar lines, but establishing its credibility in B.C. would not be easy. He therefore proposed, in effect, a B.C. branch campus of the OU to act as an educational broker, enrolling students on behalf of the OU, and administering course delivery using OU course materials and examinations, and tutors approved by the OU, for an Open University degree. Negotiations remained highly confidential in B.C. until February 1978. 27 In December McGeer proposed to Cabinet the creation of a British Columbia Open Learning Institute, under the Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act, to

Deliver programs throughout the province using distance-education methods, including printed courses of study, books, radio, cablevision, and tutors based at regional colleges. Programs will be on university, technical, career, and vocational subjects. The institute will provide a mechanism for coordinated delivery of programs, many being handled in an ad hoc fashion. It should lead to a core program of universally transferable courses leading to a BA degree. 28 The Institute would use existing Open University courses adapted for Canada by a team of B.C. academics. These would combine with the IUPB programs, the materials production capability of the Provincial Educational Media Centre and under- utilized facilities in universities and colleges. Sir Walter Perry and McGeer agreed to a program of inter- institutional cooperation in relation to the Open Learning Institute whose creation McGeer announced on 18 February 1978. 29 The cooperative agreement stopped just short of the branch campus idea: the Institute would award its own credentials, but the OU would help B.C. set up an open learning system, and OU courses would be used extensively. The first step was acquisition of OU materials for assessment for B.C. purposes. Ever impatient, and before Cabinet formally assented to the proposal, Hardwick initiated purchase of single sets of OU course materials in late December 1977, at a total cost of $306,000. 30 A storm broke over McGeer's and Hardwick's heads with these announcements. A service agency in a subordinate position like the Provincial Educational Media Centre was tolerable, even helpful. An OU- clone awarding its own credentials threatened the educational hierarchy, institutional territory, funding priorities, and established educational mores. The university presidents were furious, complaining bitterly and very publicly about lack of consultation, and the impossibility of planning their own non-metropolitan programs with the prospect of "a government-controlled university giving courses by itself." 31 The move was criticized as yet another example of "Canada's branch plant mentality." Others harped on the huge cost of television compared with its educational value, high potential costs of the whole enterprise, expectations such expenditure would be wasteful and inefficient, the likelihood of restricted course choice, and the inapplicability of the model and British courses to Canadian and local needs. Even the DEPG Chair, Pat Carney, obliquely criticized McGeer's decision to link with the BOU rather than create an educational utility as the DEPG had proposed. 32 College reactions were even sharper and for two reasons. One was opposition to the concept of provincial institutes on the grounds that they contributed to centralization of educational and training services and reduced local control and comprehensive college mandates (Beinder, 1986, pp. 156–157). The other was fear of of the new institute's implications for college enrolments, academic jobs, programs, comprehensiveness, and local pre- eminence. Some, especially the smaller, newer colleges, saw OLI as a threat to their fragile viability. Many faculty believed distance education was second-rate, cheap, and a threat to job security. The idea of a technologically-oriented OLI threatened others whose faculty agreements allowed them to resist technological change. Some principals rejected Hardwick's claim that the new institute would cater to people not already in the system, not least because they were already teaching at a distance or had plans to do so. However, there was no opposition on the grounds that no other college had degree powers.

McGeer dismissed the criticisms as the kind of reaction new ideas always met, saying "You are talking about such a tiny portion of the total amount which is spent on post-secondary education you would hardly notice it. It is not the size that is telling here. It is the concept." 33 The Institute, he said, was part of a long-overdue revision of adult education in B.C. and must be "a device for encouraging excellence in learning and, through that, for improving the quality of life of our citizens." 34 He insisted OLI would collaborate with existing programs and the government would not tolerate wasteful duplication of effort.

The Institute was also to help implement the Ministry's policies to encourage high technology industrial development in B.C. and to create a network of specialized provincial institutes to produce marketable skills. McGeer asserted there was "a crying need" for third and fourth year academic programs for people who were "geographically, financially, or psychologically prevented from attending one of our coastal universities." This ignored the DEPG's finding that sub-degree programs were more important and the IUPB's view that higher-level demand in the Interior was probably low.

The initial shock once absorbed, the universities began to come to terms with the proposed new Institute and to seek ways to influence or control some of its activities. The Presidents of UBC and UVic separately suggested to McGeer ways of organizing the university level work so as to bring it under control of a senate comprising appointees of the three university senates. UBC's President Kenny also proposed that two institutions be established - the OLI as proposed, minus its university functions; and an Open University which would be a "shell" organization whose academic decisions would be made by a universities-appointed senate. 35 McGeer rejected these ideas. College resistance abated not one whit. Ellis took up his position in June 1978; the task of turning ideas into reality lay ahead.


OLI's proponents justified its creation as the best way of catering to the varied educational needs of an unknown proportion of the 46% of B.C.'s non-metropolitan citizens. The driving forces were largely economic, based on the assumed public and private benefits of investing in human capital and on the advantages of decentralizing B.C.'s population. Public rhetoric was largely couched in terms of social justice: that is, the social desirability of improving educational access. An Open Learning Institute, teaching at a distance, was by no means the only way of doing so.

Fully implemented, Simon Fraser University's proposal for a provincial distance education system would have changed SFU's teaching program dramatically. It would, however, have given adults throughout the province the opportunity to complete degrees in a wide range of subjects, especially if cooperation could have been achieved with the other two universities. An effective inter-university credit transfer system could have been devised had the political will been there to insist on it (as eventually happened in 1984). In educational terms, the proposal was a less startling and affronting innovation than a discrete organization like OLI and might have had an easier passage in achieving academic credibility within the universities. The Faris and Goard recommendations, on the other hand, could have been accommodated by strengthening college mandates, staff expertise, and budgets, especially those of the struggling new colleges in more remote areas. The colleges' local orientation and experience in teaching adults could have been used to advantage in extending tentacles into the furthest corners of their regions. The Ministry's existing media services could have been augmented to offer centralized materials preparation and production facilities. Such moves might not have cost less in dollar terms than OLI; they would undoubtedly have cost less in tension, fear, uncertainty, and opposition in OLI's early years.

McGeer and Hardwick chose another route. They mixed a touch of hubris with pragmatic political judgements that a separate institute, adequately empowered, was the only way to ensure that the innovations they desired would be implemented as they wanted. OLI inevitably did not develop quite as either of them originally intended, but both were able - formally and by virtue of their persistent interest - to exert considerable influence on its policies and programs over the next decade. In creating OLI as a single-mode institution, McGeer and Hardwick located distance education at one end of B.C.'s educational spectrum. Although never fully articulated, their definition of "distance education" marked it as very different from its predecessor, "correspondence study." OLI's leaders did not pursue the television option as assiduously as McGeer and Hardwick wanted, but the methods and structures they adopted for teaching at a distance exemplified the mainstream of the second phase of distance education, and OLI quickly acquired a national and international reputation in the field.

OLI's mandate and the political circumstances in which it was created provide keys both to OLI's subsequent history and to the future development of the Open Learning Agency. The Open Learning Agency was established in 1988 by combining the Open College and the Open University (former components of OLI) with the Knowledge Network. At this time, the B.C. higher education system entered a third phase, characterized by the convergence of distance and face-to-face education. One important aspect of this new phase is a trend towards inter-institutional collaboration through (inter alia) credit transfer, course sharing, and program articulation. The requirement in its mandate that OLI work with other institutions played no small part in its extensive experience in these areas. So, too, did the Institute's degree-granting powers, which no other B.C. college or institute had. Although these created numerous difficulties in inter-institutional relationships, provincial coordination, and resource allocation, they also opened up important areas for collaboration. The Open University Consortium of B.C., established among OLI and the three B.C. universities in 1984, and based on an OLI degree, extended the concept and practice of credit transfer and introduced credit banking to B.C. OLI's degree-granting capacity opened the way to developing articulated certificate-degree programs with other B.C. institutes or colleges (e.g. in health sciences). Articulated pathways are emerging as a major policy thrust of many other Canadian and other institutions in the 1990s.

The television-based technologies envisaged by McGeer and Hardwick in 1978 could not be implemented because the technical infrastructure was not yet in place throughout the province and the costs were far higher than the new Institute could support. The largely print-based approaches OLI adopted became embedded in the Institute's culture and practice, as they have in most distance education operations. It will be as difficult for distance educators as for conventional educators to adjust to the educational and practical implications of "virtual classroom" electronics because we, too, have become wedded to our rhythms, mythologies, and routines of practice. In OLI's case, its 1988 amalgamation with the educational broadcaster, the Knowledge Network, changed not only the internal dynamics of the organization. It also raised fundamental questions about its future educational policies and strategies, the eventual answers to which will depend to a significant extent on the ease of access and affordability of the communications media open to the Agency and its students in the 1990s.

McGeer and Hardwick were the most influential and politically powerful of the many individuals in B.C. in the mid-late 1970s who were interested in extending educational opportunities. Their ideas for doing so went a long way back in their personal and the province's histories. Both exerted great influence over OLI's mission, curriculum, and educational strategies, although the Institute resisted some of their pressures in order to follow its own educational principles. McGeer and Hardwick were by no means the first interventionist politicians in the B.C. educational arena, but their invasion of educational affairs was relatively mild compared to the "restraint" policies of the Social Credit government in the 1980s. By the 1990s, government intrusion into institutional autonomy has become a worrying commonplace in many countries. The aura of excitement and "hype" around technology has not escaped politicians or government officials, but relatively few understand fully its capabilities and implications. Distance education institutions may well be able to take advantage of the financial and other support generated by the political popularity of information and communications technologies. Conventional teaching institutions are also beginning to do so.

A major feature of the first and second phases of distance education was the difficulty its protagonists had in persuading more conventional colleagues that distance education need not be a second- rate method of teaching/learning; indeed that it could be eminently satisfying, effective, and of high intellectual quality. OLI, like most other distance education institutions, had to struggle to assert its legitimacy and claim a "place in the sun." With more conventional institutions now adopting various combinations of information and communications technologies, it will be interesting to see how the traditional hegemony of face-to-face education is amended. On the one hand, the growing tendency to work across a range of teaching methods may work to the advantage of institutions already practised in teaching at a distance. On the other hand, as Rumble (1992) notes, single-mode distance teaching institutions are increasingly vulnerable to competition from dual-mode institutions because they lack the capacity to converge distance and face-to-face education into some new form. It is too soon to predict outcomes, but it is important to develop strategies to deal with these issues - or face negotiating from weak positions.

OLI's genesis offers abundant evidence of the multiplicity of interests and factors - some of them apparently extraneous to higher education - acting upon a significant policy thrust such as OLI represented. In our daily lives we are surrounded by internal and external political pressures and views which, consciously or not, we take into account in our policy-making and educational practice. Yet distance education research and publications have so far been very slim in this area. Learning how to analyze the past provides skills for present practice. The history and politics of distance education offer valuable insights into current and future policy directions and conflicts.


1. This paper is based on a more extended study of OLI's history. See Moran, L. (1991). Legitimation of Distance Education: A Social History of the Open Learning Institute of British Columbia 1978–1988. Ph.D. dissertation, University of British Columbia.

2. B.C. Order-in-Council 1429 created OLI under the Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act (1977); the Universities Act (1974) was amended on 27 July 1978 to give OLI degree-granting powers. See also Patrick McGeer, "The Open Learning Institute: a Statement of Mission," 1 June 1978, OLI Board Papers [OLA Archives].

3. UBC Senate Mins., March 1972–April 1974, Boxes 5-3 to 6-2 [UBC Archives].

4. Interview with Premier David Barrett, UBC Reports, 4 April 1974.

5. Kulich, interview; Historical File, p. 10, Guided Indep. Studies [Ed. Media, UBC - hereafter GIS File]; CCE Annual Reports 1973–1974 to 1976–1977 [CCE Archives, UBC].

6. Comprising two representatives of each university, this committee went by various titles from 1964 until its disbandment in 1981. The three OLI Principals - John Ellis, Ronald Jeffels, and Glen Farrell - were all members at some point. See SFU Archives 24/0: 1/1, 1/3, 1/5, 1/6; J. Blaney et al, "The Articulation of University Resources for Continuing Education in B.C.," July 1972 [Principal's File: Tri-U. Committee, OLA Archives - hereafter PF:]

7. Interview record 21 July 1977 [Derek Franklin, DEPG Current File 1, OLA Archives - hereafter Franklin CF1], comments that NIC was "quite defensive about its systems since they have been heavily attacked in the past." Also, John Ellis (OLI Principal), interview with author (19 Oct. 1990).

8. Patrick McGeer, interview with author (22 Jan. 1991).

9. A post that, though a political appointment, is the administrative and policy head of the Ministry bureaucracy.

10. Interviews with Farrell, Blaney, Fraser.

11. It is tempting to see the new University of Northern B.C. and the recent creation of university colleges as the eventual outcome of this recommendation.

12. UBC Sen.Mins. 15 Sept. 1976, Box 7-1 [UBC Archives].

13. John Bottomley (OLI), interview with author (28 Feb. 1989).

14. UBC Sen. Mins., Sept. - Dec. 1976, Box 7-1 [UBC Archives]; V. Battistelli, 15 Aug. 1977 [GIS File]; "Senate hears report on UBC Interior proposals," UBC Reports, 23(13), 26 Oct. 1977; R. A. Shearer, 5 Dec. 1977 [GIS File]; IUPB (1978).

15. Gordon Selman (UBC) interview with author (13 Mar. 1989).

16. "Distance education system proposed for B.C.'s Interior," SFU Week, 8(3), 19 May 1977; Draft proposal, July 1977, SFU Planning Committee; SFU, "Report of the Planning Committee on Interior Programs," 15 Sept. 1977 [OLA Archives - hereafter SFU Planning Committee].

17. SFU Planning Committee, p. 24.

18. Brian G. Wilson to IUPB, 2 Dec. 1977 [GIS File].

19. "UCBC committee rejects Kelowna resource school," SFU Week, 10(11), 16 March 1978; IUPB (1978); Layton (1984, p. 20); John Bottomley, personal communication with author, 22 August 1990.

20. Record of meeting, 9 May 1977; Hardwick to principals & presidents, 17 May 1977 [Franklin CF1]. Chaired by journalist (later Senator) Pat Carney, the DEPG comprised personnel of the Ministry of Education and UCBC, including Derek Franklin and John Bottomley, who became early OLI staff members.

21. Progress review, Hardwick, Carney, 30 May 1977; Interview record, Blaney, Farrell, Faris, 31 May 1977; Record of meeting, 2 June 1977; PEMC progress report, 8 July 1977 [Franklin CF1].

22. B.C. Ministry of Education, Information Services, "Background to an Open Learning Institute" (Victoria, March 1978) [GIS File]. The STEP project was one of the last of a series of U.S. and Canadian experiments with the geostationery Communications Technology Satellite (Hermes), which was a forerunner of the ANIK B satellite launched in 1978 and used to transmit Knowledge Network programs. See Bottomley (1981).

23. DEPG planning session, 26 Aug. 1977 [Franklin CF1].

24. Interview record with L. Blake, 3 June 1977 [Franklin CF1]. Blake chaired the Ministry's Open College Committee in 1977, investigating distance delivery of first and second year academic courses.

25. Hardwick, interview.

26. McGeer, interview.

27. Bottomley, interview (1989); Bottomley to Ellis, 13 June 1979, [PF: UKOU].

28. P. L. McGeer, submission by Social Services Committee to Cabinet, 12 Dec. 1977 [Franklin CF1].

29. Letter of Interest. Open University and the B.C. Ministry of Education, Victoria 16 Feb. 1978 [GIS File].

30. These purchases bedevilled relationships between Hardwick, the Ministry, and OLI for several years, and gave rise to the myth that OLI was sitting on $1million worth of unused OU materials. Bottomley to Hardwick, 23 Dec. 1977 [PF:UKOU]; Hardwick to J. Cox, 8 May & 26 June 1978; Bottomley to Ellis, 18 June 1979; Ellis to J. Pritchard, 28 Aug. 1979; Bottomley to Ellis, 18 June 1979 [PF:UKOU].

31. "Open University agreement results in academic anger," SFU Week, 10(8), 23 Feb. 1978; "Open university on TV angers academics," Vancouver Sun, 18 Feb. 1978. Bottomley (interview 1989) & Hardwick (interview) recall a meeting called by McGeer with the Presidents to inform them of his intentions. They were incredulous and extremely angry; one stormed out.

32. "Open University agreement results in academic anger," SFU Week, 10(8), 23 Feb, 1978; Tri-Univ. Committee to Univ. Presidents, 22 February 1978 [SFUA: 40/4/4]; Esther Cowan, "Why TV university won't work in B.C.," Vancouver Sun, 7 March 1978; Herbert Grubel, "In your ear, McGeer," Vancouver Sun, 30 March 1978; Pat Carney, "Distance education: the need is there," Vancouver Sun, 30 March 1978.

33. "McGeer invites universities to work with open institute," SFU Week, 10(9), 2 March 1978.

34. McGeer, "Address to the British Columbia Continuing Education Administrators' (Vancouver, 28 April 1978) [GIS File]; also "Electronic university `an exciting venture,'" Vancouver Sun, 29 April 1978.

35. H. Petch to McGeer, & D. Kenny to McGeer, both 31 May 1978 [PF:Tri-Univ. Ctee].


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An academic administrator and policy maker at Deakin University, Australia, since 1979, Louise Moran completed a PhD in 1991 at the University of British Columbia, on the history of the Open Learning Institute. She returned to a senior policy role at Deakin in 1992. Her research interests include the history and politics of distance and higher education. Louise Moran Director of Course Policy Deakin University Geelong, Victoria, 3217 Australia Tel. 61 52 272168 Fax: 61 52 411331