Donna Liu, University Channel Director
What if the public could listen to the best minds and newest ideas at colleges and universities around the world? What if the academic research and analysis that aims to solve the world’s problems were presented, unfiltered and uncut, to a global audience? What if this could be accomplished with only a modest investment in new technology?
These are the goals of the University Channel, a collection of recordings of public affairs lectures, panels and events from universities around the world. The University Channel web site uses new media technologies — such as streaming, “podcasting” and video-on-demand — to distribute these talks straight to the public, without the cutting and packaging of commercial news and TV programming. The goal is to enrich the general discussion of public and international policy by giving the public free access to full-length, commercial free, thoughtful presentations of people who are focused on solving the problems of the world.
Member institutions produce and contribute the multimedia content and then benefit from a distribution network that no single school can achieve on its own.
The University Channel prototype was unveiled in July 2005 with a modest collection of 20 recorded events. Within six months, that number had grown to more than 150 events. One of the more successful features of the website has been the University Channel podcast, which is available through iTunes and other podcast directories, and registers thousands of downloads a day. Selected University Channel videos can be downloaded to the new video iPods and carried around for viewing anytime, anywhere. In January 2006 alone the website, which delivers streaming video, registered nearly 100,000 hits.
The website also acts as a password-protected portal through which TV distributors such as cable TV stations, video-on-demand operations, and IPTV groups can download large broadcast-quality digital video files, for re-broadcast in their markets.
The University Channel has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education; it has been chosen by Slate magazine as one of the “Top Ten Podcasts of 2005” and by Campus Technology as one of the “101 Best Practices of 2005” (for the “vodcast”). It has received favorable coverage in a number of local and international publications, as well as the blogosphere.
The University Channel prototype was initiated by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. As of Feb 2006, other Charter Members of the University Channel include Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Middlebury College, and the University of Texas at Austin. Many other institutions are contributing content.
Technical support for the University Channel is provided by several departments under the purview of Serge Goldstein, Director of Academic Services for OIT: The Educational Technologies Center (ETC) is designing, engineering, and maintaining the University Channel web site and blog, the New Media Center has taken the lead in evaluating and installing new digital video technologies, while Media Services provides the opportunity for the University Channel to test new programming strategies on its educational access channel.
Posted by Lorene Lavora