University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Long time lurker, first time poster. I hope that you have experiences that you will share with us. Our university (University of North Texas) is creating an iTunesU site but it is difficult finding data on how useful it really is for our audiences and for our communication strategy. We know that academic course content can be extremely relevant for our students. But the video and podcasting content that is showcased and publically available is another matter. If you have any thoughts about the questions below, I would love to hear them.

1) Do any of you have any hard data on the visitation and subscription rates for content (video, podcasts, etc)?

2) Do you have any advice on what types of content seem to be the most successful to showcase for your public audiences?

3) Who is the gatekeeper for your public side (if you have one)?

4) What are the key lessons that you have learned about creating and managing a successful iTunesU presence?

5) What type of staff would you recommend to support video on campus?

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Texas Tech University:
1. I think I can pull that data, would prefer to send it offline.

2. The "fun" pieces are the most popular.

3. Comm&marketing (us) manage the entire site, and we have not moved forward with a private side yet.

4. Key lessons: the initial contract was very difficult to get through legal; we have not been successful with a private side because of lack of buy in from the academic side of the house; assign responsibility to a single point person;

5. Hard to say, we have a broadcast bureau of 2 videographers + 1 producer who do "our" video, course video is independently produced by faculty.
I have been now for about 2 months trying to get the Service Agreement signed by Apple. My understanding is that they have agreed to the addendum that we sent back, but I haven't gotten the paperwork back yet.

We are starting with a public only site as we haven't had the interest yet for a private site.
We finally got through the mass of paperwork and legal issues (a pain) but now are in the strategic phase for content.
We're just about to launch an iTunes U site... while I'm involved, I'm not the lead and haven't been as involved in the ongoing discussions with Apple. I know they have a lot of data they can share with you.

Our Public Affairs and Communications office is acting as gatekeeper for creating collections, but we're delegating the responsibility of posting content to the content owners - communications folks in colleges, institutes, etc.

We talked with schools who had been doing this for a while to answer some of these questions... Duke, Stanford, and Emory served as models in different ways.
Just went live in Jan and an interesting experience.

1) Yes and in general we find that there is a significant increase in traffic for included content, especially if it get's promotion from Apple. Suffice to say there is general satisfaction that the results justify the effort. For now anyway!

2) Interesting question - content specifically created for the channel seems to be more effective though lectures that are genuinely 'stand out' also do well. I think it's a question of applying a good editorial eye (ear?) to materials to ensure that what is going up does your institution justice. Fun stuff is good, but needs credible content to back it up. Note that you cannot win the argument for involvement with academics and senior management on fun stuff alone. That is not to say that you cannot be creative in your treatment of more serious material, and I would encourage thinking beyond lecture theaters, just that you have to remember that you need to build a case internally as well as meet the demands of users. Don't underestimate your audiences.

3) Comms office provides the gatekeeper for now - whether this remains to be the case we will see. It needs that sort of stewardship in the first instance. However, I could not do his without significant academic input and support from the elearning community. This has been an all hands exercise and has probably done more to break down barriers between elearning, IT, comms and the academic community in this area than anything else I can think of. It's been a great catalyst for encouraging action and engagement across the board towards a clearly defined and coherent goal.

4) It needs a champion to drive it and organise it. You have to go into it with a strong sense of why you are doing it and how you are going to achieve it and bang the drum over and over again. A lot of people won't get it and a strong vision will get it across. It does take resource and effort and the real concern should not be launch but launch+1 +2 +3 +4 and so on.

On a practical level watch out for the metadata and make sure you quiz your Apple contact for lots of help on how to get that bit right.

5) We have a pro producer and camera/editor who are focussed on creating content specifically for the channel backed by a lot of academics and students working on their own content. This is supported by skills training and practical workshops to share best practice and introduce new techniques and tools.

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