Project Report

The Steeple Project officially finished on March 31st 2010 after 18 months work. This section covers the final reporting elements to the project and acts as a project overview.

Please follow the links in the menu to the left to read through the report's six sections. The original application for the project is also linked from the left. A printable version of this report is available as a PDF in our resources area.

Executive Summary

The Steeple project was an institutional exemplar project across three UK institutions: the University of Cambridge, the Open University, and the University of Oxford (lead institution). The project researched and documented institutional podcasting activities. It was prompted by the recent innovative work undertaken within these universities in preparation for creation and dissemination of audio/video recordings in iTunes U. Steeple also attracted a community of practice around the development of scalable, enterprise-level solutions suitable for educational audio/video processing and delivery at scale. The project aimed to consolidate and share technical practices on the scaling of services, encoding audio-visual material, and delivering to new third-party services. The project met these aims through a community approach of sharing best practices and promoting open standards. One early outcome of this approach was a demonstrator portal acting as a video sharing service across four UK universities.

The project's innovative work led to many contacts with other institutions who were looking for advice on technical and policy issues, particularly on project management and institutional change management. This early interest led to the use of an open community wiki to document outputs. To support this growing community the project organised a large podcasting conference of over 120 delegates in April 2009 and a series of technical workshops, consultancies, online meetings and wiki sprints through an active mail list.

The project investigated institutional infrastructure needed to support university wide educational podcasting, addressing the issues of scaling from occasional high-profile content generation, through to high-volume institution-wide lecture capture, concluding that there is no one-stop single solution to all issues. Project work was done on processes that allow an institution to syndicate to multiple online audiences and hence benefit from economies of scale. The project also collaborated on video web portal demonstrators for Oxford and Cambridge and investigated syndication to mobile devices and subject portals.

The highlights of the project included:

About this report

This report was authored by:

This report was published in April 2010.


The Steeple project was a collaboration between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the Open University. Our project and its success is also due in part to the enthusiastic support and involvement of the community that formed around this work.

This work has been funded by the JISC as part of their Institutional Innovation (Phase 2) programme. Our thanks go to the programme manager Lawrie Phipps, our primary support contact Jenny Mackness, and the rest of the JISC SSBR team led by George Roberts.

We would especially like to highlight and thank the following:

Our host departments

Our Project champions

Technical consultants and friends of the project include: Barry Cornelius, Aaron Zeckoski, Jason Norton, Scott Wilson, Sally Hanford, Adrian Birch, Laura James, Laurian Gridinoc, Bernadette Attwell, Nick Watson, John Sinton, Catherine Chambers, Kristoff van Leeuwen, Stewart Nixon, Jenny Barden, Jane Roberts, Angela Davies, Steve Pierce, David Shakespeare, Carolyne Culver, Stuart Lee, Stuart Brown, Leslaw Zieleznik, Andrew Middleton, Graham McElearney, Roger Greenhalgh, Tobias Wunden and Olaf Schulte.

The Steeple Community of over 27 institutions and 50 people on the Steeple email list.