In a post of nearly two years ago (“OERwashing: Beyond the Elephant Test“), I argued that the OER community lacked a reliable way to assess new entrants to the OER field, especially for-profit organizations, in terms of their support for openness and OER community values. At the time, I asserted that the lack of a common language and reliable approach to identifying ‘good OER actors’ was detrimental for the field, including for all those individuals, organizations, and institutions seeking to sincerely engage with the movement. “I know it when I see it,” felt an unfair and capricious – an impossible – standard.

It is for that reason that I am pleased today to introduce the CARE Framework for OER Stewardship. The framework is described in a new paper jointly written by Lisa Petrides (ISKME), myself, and Eddie Watson (AAC&U) entitled, “Toward a Sustainable OER Ecosystem: The Case for OER Stewardship.”

As we write:

While OER typically reside in the public domain or have an alternative license that specifies how a resource may be reused, adapted, and shared, the use of an open license is in itself insufficient to addressing broader sustainability and ethical questions. Indeed, the predominant business models of the educational technology and publishing industries have been predicated on the concept of access limitations and scarcity. As such, the time is past due for the OER community to be more explicit and intentional about the ways in which OER are produced, packaged, and delivered.

Petrides, L., Levin, D., and Watson, C.E. “The Care Framework for OER Stewardship.” CC BY-SA, 2018. Available online at www.careframework.org.

The purpose of the paper is three-fold: (1) To contribute to the conversation about how the OER community’s values can be maintained as the movement scales; (2) to help assess the practices of new entrants to the OER field, especially for-profit companies; and (3) to instill confidence in educators to participate in the OER field, including those who may express reservations about the (for-profit) re-use of any OER they may contribute.

The paper and the CARE (Contribute, Attribute, Release, and Empower) Framework itself are intended to be applicable to all OER stakeholders, including individuals, organizations of all types (for- and non-profit), and educational institutions (K-12, postsecondary, libraries, etc.) – and to be global in scope.

It is our hope that the paper is useful to all OER stakeholders concerned about the future of the movement, and we intend to release supplemental resources related to the framework in the coming weeks to shed light on how we think the CARE Framework might be further operationalized.

In the mean time, we do hope you take the time to read the paper, to share it widely, and to offer up your reactions and constructive criticism.