As a bit of context for that post, I should explain that I tend look at sustainability from the perspective of commercial ventures and competition. This perspective has been formed over the years in my various stints in publishing and edtech startups. Sustainability, for me, general means (in this order): 1) survival; 2) product growth, and; 3) success (based on some set of adrred-on goals).
Survival is the lowest level of sustainability and the easiest one to achieve. In my pinion, it is where open content and open education currently stand within Higher Education. We have several dedicated organizations and a multitude of dedicated people working with heart and diligence, but their individual commitment and efforts are only enough to keep open at a level of viability for a niche constituency.
This is not intended as a negative statement but rather as an honest observation intended to frame solutions for moving beyond the survival phase. In my post, I point to three things that I believe are necessary to move open content from survival to the growth phase of sustainability.
- Sustainability must be a core, shared priority -- I believe that sustainability is a big priority for organizations such as OpenStax, but the general nature of open means that the broader OER catalog will always contain a majority of artifacts that are created by individuals and other organizations that are less concerned with long-term sustainability. Somehow, the broader community must adopt/promote a broader sustainability framework and find ways to promote and support it.
- Mapping is key to flexibility, easy reuse, and distribution -- Market sustainability for OER means widespread adoption and mainstream use. In order to achieve those goals, however, open content must must become more discoverable within the granular context of courses. It must also be easier to combine and remix with other open content. This will require more than standard or shared metadata schemas -- it necessitates common tagging conventions -- shared taxonomies and vocabularies -- that can be used by librarians and other information managers.
- Organizations must collaborate to support content renewal -- Content sustainability requires a commitment to provide the necessary resources and funding to enable revisions and updating. This can be achieved through institutional coordination and crowdsourcing, but it cannot happen without the leadership of key universities and library organizations.