Implications & Recommendations
Avoid Starting From Scratch: As the popularity of podcasting and multimedia services continues to increase, yet time and money needs to be saved, then a recommendation must be to not to try and develop enterprise solutions from the ground-up but to look for more mature commercial or open source solutions with good community support.
We recommend that you:
- Do not reinvent the wheel. Use Podcast Producer or Opencast’s Matterhorn to do your podcasting technical work. Build on the foundations offered by others. Offer your work to help your peers.
Keep Content Independent of Implementation: As more institutions deploy systems that make the generation and distribution of audio visual material much easier, the quantity of content is going to grow dramatically. The value and cost of these outputs needs to be assessed by each institution, and due regard given to the longevity and safekeeping of that content. This means reassessing the cost of archiving solutions in the context of the value of the content they now need to contain, about having good processes for keeping high-quality original material so that it can be updated for newer technologies and changes in distribution platforms, format and policies. Future proofing can be realised by simple policies such as not heavily watermarking with your current institutional brand on any original archive material and resisting channel specific embedded titling.
We recommend that:
- Further work be funded to investigate policies and technologies for archiving content, suitable for institutional media capture and podcasting services. Much more needs to be done with reference to media and cataloguing and exposure through library systems and repositories.
- Academia must realise that our effort is "within the world at large", and as such, we cannot distribute content just within the ivory tower, but must use and embrace services like YouTube EDU, and iTunes U. Funders must recognise this.
- Content must not be locked into any one solution:
- High quality original material should be kept in a suitable (not necessarily open) format and due time and resources given to the updating of these archives over time.
- Institutions should avoid locking into a single format, single vendor-solution, because formats change.
Improve Content Sharing: The wealth of material already created needs to be made much more discoverable, let alone the explosion of new material that is coming online. The lightweight technologies used by podcasting are much more readily accessible than any form of theoretical learning object system, so we should be building on this area. The ongoing work to understand the minimal and maximal metadata sets for podcasts needs to continue, and the findings implemented widely. And with this material and standardised approach, sharing and reuse can be encouraged in many ways, such as through a national podcasting web-portal, subject specific collections, community and topic based projects, and more.
We recommend that:
- The Ensemble audio/video search demonstrator needs further funding to develop a mature, production ready code implementation that will be the technical engine to power the reuse ideas mentioned.
- Further work particularly on a UK video sharing service, as illustrated by our Aggregation Portal Demonstrator, be funded.
- All JISC reports and documentation are required to be Creative Commons licensed, to ensure a growing, extensible set of knowledge.
Provide Nationalised Training and Support: Support, training and a community of practice are essential to the healthy development of these technologies and practices. We have seen a clear demand for human-to-human interactions between those with experience and those tasked with delivering new services. There are also economies of scale to benefit from in terms of aggregated processing and storage solutions, as well as the relatively high entry cost to enterprise level podcasting for smaller institutions, who could benefit from working together on, or paying for, a shared solution.
- Establishing a National Service to support multimedia activities both within institutions and on a national scale. Offer consultancy and support on all podcasting aspects.
- There is a role for shared services in the sector due to the complexities of cataloguing, encoding and hosting large volumes of audio-visual data, perhaps as part of the National Service.
Investigate Podcast Creation: This project was founded on the principle that the technical process would start with an original high-quality file containing the material to distribute. This is part of the overall podcasting process, but it is not the beginning, and in the main, we have steered away from issues related to capturing and recording of content. However, this is a huge topic in its own right and needs thorough investigation, both from a process standpoint (which we believe the JISC ELTAC project has been considering) and a technical approach (which we have touched upon with our pilot capture work). We believe that much more needs to be done to help elevate both the experience and capabilities of the academics to use these technologies, and on the use-cases and technical solutions to simplify and embed into daily usage more easily.
- A broader comparative study of the different approaches and styles available to create content, and of the different technical environments and solutions that can be leveraged. In particular it would be helpful to tally technical solutions against the various use-cases they can support, so as to better educate institutions about what systems to buy and install for maximal effect.
There are many topics on the fringe of the project that will become increasingly important in the future, there are many areas that as a community we are sure will need further investigation and technical services made available to be supported nationally. Audio-visual educational activities will only increase in the next five years and this area will be one of the faster growth areas in scholarly communication and online training.
Issues related to determining institutional value are:
- A growth in industrialised lecture capture across UK HE
- Global reach - the increased presence by UK HE in public video sharing sites such as YouTube Edu and iTunes U
- A growth in the internal demand for recording activities driven by the public channels
- Encoding services that add value though automatic cataloguing and transcription
- A recognition of the need for inexpensive archiving and storage solutions which protect the content for the long-term
- Catering for mobile audiences and low bandwidth audiences
- Catering for large surges in demand for reuse
- Increased use of mixed media presentations and more complicated learning objects
- Increased use of Video/Audio feedback systems in Teaching and Learning and further integration into learning spaces such as the VLE
- A revival in the need for institutional Film/TV studio setups
- Sophisticated online editing options being built-in to delivery platforms and hence reducing editing costs
Potential sets of reusable high-value audio and video content are becoming available for reuse under open licences such as Creative Commons. The Steeple project portal demonstrator has shown it is possible to share, aggregate and expose content through metadata standardisation across four HEs. There will be new opportunities for subject communities to use this open content through subject specific micro-sites.
What educational organisations are setting the pace of future developments?
- OpenCast Community and the Matterhorn open source lecture capture solution
- Terena with their Task Force for Multimedia (TF-Media)
- Steeple Community - this may merge with the OpenCast Community after funding is withdrawn, or be fully self-sustaining and or merge as a technical wing of the UK-SIG Media Enhanced Learning (formerly Podcasting for Pedagogic Purposes)