British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Preserving audiovisual content in education

As the amount of digital material generated by universities increases every year, what can be done to preserve them for the future? Linda Ligios and Karen Colbron, King’s College London, are looking for solutions with the Presto4U project,

About the authors:

web-Linda Ligios_photoLinda Ligios is Presto4U Community of Practice Coordinator (Learning and Teaching Repositories) at King’s College London. Previously she worked within the British Library Sound Archive for an Arts Council-funded oral history project and cataloguing sound recordings.  She has a background in publishing and radio production at the BBC where she worked managing the international print and digital licences for BBC Magazines followed by 2 years working in BBC local radio. She also worked closely with the Digital Asset Management team to implement the captioning, rights management and delivery of BBC digital content to an international community.

web-Karen Colbron-2Karen Colbron, Presto4U Knowledge Transfer and Sustainability Manager at King’s College London, has an advanced degree in Library Science. She is responsible for the development of the Presto4U Standards Register, Software Tools Catalogue and Marketplace. Having recently served as Digital Archives Manager at WGBH Television in Boston, Karen has been involved in preservation workflows for both analogue to digital and born-digital audiovisual materials. Karen has over 25 years of production and project management experience, both nationally and internationally, and has been twice Emmy award-nominated for her work in archival research.

The development of virtual learning technology and the accessibility of audiovisual media are rapidly changing higher education (HE) practice in response to an evolving student base that lives and communicates in a digital environment. Many universities are becoming producers of audiovisual material in the form of recorded lectures, video conferences, podcasts and bespoke videos created to enhance the distance-learning provision. The recent explosion of MOOCs[1] and the OER movement[2] have been main drivers for the production and access of audiovisual resources within this domain, resulting in the increase of born-digital content. If we think of the variety of subjects and courses where video proves an essential teaching and learning tool, it is fair to assume that the amount of digital material produced within higher education is likely to increase in the coming years, posing a threat to the value of resources if no action is taken to preserve them. The risk however is not only limited to born digital content and many institutions are familiar with the variety of analogue collections (VHS, Betacam etc.) scattered across different departments without appropriate storage conditions and in danger of physical deterioration. According to a survey conducted by the University of Innsbruck in 2012[3], the hours of content held at European HE institutions could run well into the millions, yet little information is available on the condition of collections making it more difficult to assess how urgent digitisation and preservation measures are needed. The reality is that digital preservation is still regarded with some scepticism because of the short shelf life of some educational materials. Content may be course or year-specific, or have privacy and other constraints limiting future re-use (e.g. medical videos), that will affect retention policies within institutions. Fortunately in the UK good practices are emerging and organisations like Jisc[4] and the Digital Preservation Coalition[5] have been at the forefront supporting HE institutions with advice and guidance on digital preservation.

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