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:

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:

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:

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.

We recommend:

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.

We recommend:

The Future

The best way to predict the future is to invent it - Alan Kay

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:

What's next?

Open Content

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?

References

The material in this report is based on the knowledge and experience of the Steeple Project team. In the main part, this knowledge has been captured through various outputs which can be found via the project website. Ongoing work and community material can be found in the project wiki. Thoughts, observations and technical notes can be found via the project blog.

Website: http://steeple.oucs.ox.ac.uk/
Wiki: http://www.steeple.org.uk/
Blog: http://steeple.posterous.com/

http://projects.kmi.open.ac.uk/itunesu/
http://itunes.ox.ac.uk
http://itunes.open.ac.uk
http://itunes.cam.ac.uk