Client Advisory Board Report #2: Lifecycle Management of MultiMedia Assets – 3 Insights to Consider

As a follow up to our previous discussion around Digital Asset Management or “DAM” projects (I giggle everytime I write that), we pledged another post about the demands we are hearing from clients in Kaltura’s expanding education community.  As a reminder, Digital Asset Management (DAM) consists of management tasks and decisions surrounding the ingestion, annotation, cataloguing, storage, retrieval, moderation, and distribution of digital assets.  Following a recent meeting between our consulting leadership (#brains) and a group of clients (#partners #leadersinedu) we collected 3 insights that institutions should be considering in terms of managing the lifecycle of their media assets.

Insight #1: Picking a Repository Strategy – One or Many  

Institutions, frankly, spend too much time trying to keep assets insular and siloed from others within their organization.  No offense to folks I have met, but at times, they too concerned about protecting their assets and not aware enough of the opportunity that a single repository offers.
While, at times, there are political and legal/privacy reasons to create a walled garden of content, the overwhelming majority of institutions of higher education could collapse their existing video repositories and make them available to all areas of the campus.  This would streamline their workflows and preserve campus technology resources in a much cleaner, more methodical way. One academic technologist recently shared that there are hundreds of duplicate copies of B-roll campus tour videos in many different systems.  Imagine how much easier  it would be if they were all in one place, searchable and catalogued, so users would not repeatedly refilm the same content.
Otherwise, the practice of having multiple repositories stored on servers, disk drives, thumb drives, or Vimeo, DropBox or YouTube accounts will only continue to grow. (No, wait, YouTube is NOT a repository.) As that growth happens, the demand for more resources and bandwidth to manage it will only become increasingly cumbersome. I think I know a company that can help with that … wink, smile.

Insight #2: Put a Retention Policy in Place, Even if It’s not Perfect

I would estimate that less than 3% of all institutions of higher education have a formal retention strategy for their media assets.  While 3% might be an exaggeration (not sure which way), most campuses have not decided how to handle the different type of media they create.  From lecture capture, micro-lectures, student contributions, marketing communications, HR recordings, help desk case reviews, etc., etc… there are petabytes of content with no set shelf life.
Following some common logic—like “how long do we need to keep grades on file?”—could influence how long those lectures should be accessible and on demand.  Never let the accumulation of assets stop you from doing something new.  One campus that will remain anonymous told us they turned off the ability for student contribution because  they were afraid that the volume of generated content would impact storage costs.  Easy solution: delete those entries after 1, 2, or 3 years. The problem is solved and you allow your students to contribute content to their liking.  Another suggestion would be to migrate those student contributions to a portable drive after the program is completed. Handing the student his/her certification/diploma and a thumb drive of all their multimedia assets could be a constructive fix. Both of these very simple options can be easily established and moderated through a DAM system.
Like anything else, retention strategies can and do change over time. However, as multimedia content grows and becomes the expectation of modern learners, institutions  should—no, MUST—have  a strategy in place, so that the opportunities for enhancing the quality of education for students and improving the teaching experience for faculty steadily push the needle in the right direction. Putting a retention policy in place to begin with is crucial. So draft one up for your campus. Test it and see how it plays out. Then, add to it over time.

Insight 3 – Publish the Assets Securely

Did I mention that YouTube is NOT a repository?  It is a great place to share videos of school concerts for grandparents, aunts, and uncles to see. But in an educational setting where reliable security is needed for electronically communicating information between students, parents, and faculty—such as – within a nursing program or at a primary school,for example YouTube is not the answer.  Nor is any other “free” service for that matter. Instead, video assets commonly created when recording student performance or their understanding of a task (especially in in a medical program) needs to be securely held and accessed from a system that is both familiar and safe. Usually, the LMS is the ideal place for this student/instructor interaction, since it is secure.
The LMS offers many levels of security for this scenario, but often performance is impacted when large file sizes are uploaded and the costs of storing those files can become very expensive. The alternative would a platform technology that can store and stream the assets. But the platform should still have some level of meaningful and logical integration with campus systems, such as the LMS, or even a CMS like Sharepoint. This integration should allow the content to be consumed and/or collaborated with based on roles from the campus system. This means that videos can only be consumed where they were published and that URLs to a secure video can’t be copy/pasted externally to another environment, nor can the video be downloaded except when the administrator enables that functionality.
These concerns naturally apply most obviously to educational outcomes. But that’s not the only place educational institutions can use video. Consider this use case in other sensitive areas, such as HR onboarding, training, internal meetings, financial planning sessions and so forth that may not be directly tied to teaching & learning.
We hope these insights are helpful in planning your DAM strategy and are a cornerstone of your efforts.


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