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How to Create a Video Strategy for Colleges and Universities

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Right now every school putting videos online should be ready to add captions to them, especially videos delivered to students. I recommend this so that schools can be sure to be in compliance with federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, and state accessibility laws. More importantly, though, it's in the best interest of serving students of all abilities. Therefore, captioning is a feature that should be at the top of the list when formulating your institution's online video strategy and choosing online video platforms.

In my last column, I made the case for having such a strategy, discussing elements such as the current and legacy formats you need to support and permissions. In this installment, I will also address interactivity, sharing, and longer term planning.

The rise of YouTube and Facebook have trained internet users to expect that nearly every piece of content can be commented on, rated, and shared. This interactivity is not something you want to overlook when making your online video plans. It's understandable that the prospect of uncontrolled and unmoderated commenting and sharing gives administrators nightmares. At the same time, most campuses have communications professionals working hard to create content they hope will appeal to a broad audience. The problem is, you can't turn off sharing and commenting without hobbling the potential for your videos to go viral.

It doesn't have to be a binary decision. Rather, you should be sure that you identify what kinds of videos your campus should make more interactive and shareable, and which ones require more tight control. Your video strategy should reflect those needs.

Even if certain videos are restricted to a small audience of students or faculty, that does not mean that they cannot be enhanced by interactive features, even if social networks are out. A teacher may want students to discuss a video easily without logging into other applications, or an instructor may need to comment on videos that students share with the class.

There are even platforms that permit users to edit and remix videos nondestructively, giving students and faculty the opportunity to collaborate creatively. Remixing can let students build video essays that quote from other videos, in the same manner that they quote research articles.

As your school starts to execute its video strategy -- creating, ingesting, and distributing videos from a multitude of sources -- you'll soon realize that you also need a plan for managing the life span of content. Innovation in storage technology has helped to mitigate the need to aggressively cull online video archives. Nevertheless, the growing expectation for HD video puts continued pressure on storage limits and costs.

The final consideration for an online video strategy is what an institution's policies should be for retaining videos, keeping them online, retiring them to offline storage, or deleting them altogether. It's unlikely that a school needs to retain video assignments uploaded by a student who graduated years ago, and there may even be other policy or regulatory implications to consider.

Many schools manage and stream copyrighted content that is licensed. In that case, it becomes a matter of contractual compliance to ensure videos are available only during the licensed window. Therefore it's important to ensure that the platforms being evaluated make it easy to manage the life span and availability of all your institution's videos.

These elements of a video strategy might seem obvious, but I think that's why they're often overlooked. The risk of letting a shiny whizbang feature take the spotlight at the expense of something mundane but critical such as permissions is real, and this can have serious costs over time. I'd like to know what features and considerations Streaming Media readers think are vital for a comprehensive online video strategy, especially items I may have missed. Comment online or drop me an email at paul@paulriismandel.com.

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