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How to Manage Video Content in Higher Education

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It’s the kind of problem that creeps up on you. The day before the beginning of fall semester, a new professor walks into your office. She says she was just hired to coordinate all the beginning Italian courses and is finishing up her course website. She heard from the department secretary that there are hours of streaming audio to go with the course, but she has no idea where to find it all. She’s already tried to email the previous coordinator, but he retired and is in the middle of a 3-week Mediterranean cruise.

You remember putting this audio on your streaming server about 5 years ago, along with hundreds of hours of other Italian content for dozens of other courses. So, you know you have it. But where the heck is it, and what are the links? Of course, she needs it now—as in yesterday.

For a lot of us, this scenario means a couple hours spent trolling through directories that might either be named logically or according to some ancient runic limerick. You click on files, almost randomly, until you’re sure you’ve found something in Italian. Then you have to ask the new professor to listen patiently to each until you’re both certain you’ve found the right one.

Maybe something similar has happened to you. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Content and asset management is something that most of us never think much about, whether we’re producers or consumers of media. The fact that major online media sites let us do pretty quick searches to find the video we’re looking for seems unremarkable. That is, of course, until you’re looking for a video that you just know is there, but you can’t figure out where.

The fact is, managing all that online video content is far from simple or easy. Nor is it cheap. Yet when the use of dynamic content management systems (CMSs) for websites has trickled down within reach of every blogger, it’s frustrating to realize that the same kind of management for digital media has not necessarily made the same journey, especially in education.

Far too many educational media professionals still distribute online media content to faculty and students by emailing links and posting to webpages. Sure, sometimes those webpages are part of a larger CMS or learning management system (LMS), but those systems usually don’t know anything more about the media being linked to. If that webpage was owned by a faculty person who’s no longer around, good luck finding those links a few months or years down the road.

From large media companies to scrappy startups, effective asset management has become an absolute necessity for anyone trying to monetize content. While schools, colleges, and universities are not necessarily directly monetizing their online media, that content still has tremendous value. That value is lost if that media can’t be found and used by instructors, students, researchers, and, increasingly, the public at large.

Yet, the kind of asset management systems that successfully drive monetization are often too pricey and complex for a college or university that just wants to get a handle on all its streaming video.

I think managing online media content and assets is going to be one of the biggest challenges facing institutions of higher education as the use of online media quickly transitions from being a nicety to a necessity. To get a better sense of the different ways to approach the problem, I looked at three different universities that have each taken different paths.

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