Digital Content and Learning:
Issues in Development, Storage, and Management
Within Ball State University
Environmental Scanning Committee
Ball State University
Table of Contents
Executive Summary ------------------------------------------------------------ 4
Committee Members ----------------------------------------------------------- 6
Committee Charge -------------------------------------------------------------- 6
Chapter One: Digital Content Development and Support
I. Digital Content Development ------------------------------------- 8
Figure A --------------------------------------------------------10
Table 1 ----------------------------------------------------------11
Figure B --------------------------------------------------------14
Figure C --------------------------------------------------------14
Case Studies ---------------------------------------------------15
Virtual Reality ------------------------------------------------19
Futuristic Tools -----------------------------------------------19
II. Digital Content Development Support ------------------------21
Instructional Designer ---------------------------------------21
Local Service Provider --------------------------------------22
Support for Content Development ------------------------25
Chapter Two: Digital Content Storage and Management
III. Digital Content Storage -----------------------------------------29
Present Data Storage and Digital Asset Management-29
Criteria for Recommendations -------------------------------32
Centralized or Distributed Storage -------------------------33
Manageability—Backup and Recovery Analysis --------34
Data Availability and Integrity ------------------------------34
IV. Digital Content Management ------------------------------------35
Digital Content Import ----------------------------------------39
Digital Content Search and Retrieval ----------------------42
User Interface/Display -----------------------------------------43
Security and Rights Management ---------------------------45
Technical Aspects and Maintenance ------------------------46
More a leader than a follower, Ball State University has been in the forefront of
implementing technological solutions and has been proactive in advancing many
technology initiatives in support of teaching, learning, and research. The rapid growth in
data intensive applications and the proliferation of repositories that store and retrieve
continuous media data types (e.g., audio and video objects, animation, etc.) continue to
fuel the demand for new data storage architecture. Continuous media storage and access
and networked multimedia applications, including video-on-demand (VOD), interactive
TV (ITV), and interactive hypermedia courseware, are the kinds of applications that are
created, developed, and used in the university environment. Another emerging area is
application integration, which will let users access video, audio, images, and text within
At the same time, growth experienced in the University’s computing infrastructure
utilization over the past few years requires Ball State to reconsider its server/storage
environment in the context of disaster recovery, backup and recovery efficiencies,
constituent services (especially email), costs, and operational objectives. The University
needs a comprehensive strategy that includes a plan for infrastructure and other
improvements and that specifically addresses the concerns for faculty knowledge about
digital content development, digital content development tools, integration of digital
content in teaching and learning, delivery of online instruction, and consolidation of
storage and digital asset management. The university’s enrollment has been accelerating
for the past few years. With over 100 percent storage growth expected over the next three
years, the University will require infrastructure to support disk storage growth plus the
backup and recovery systems, server resources, staff, and operational procedures to
manage and administer the additional storage.
In order to address these issues Dr. O’Neal Smitherman, Vice President for Information
Technology, assembled an Environmental Scanning Committee (ESC) with
representatives from the seven colleges and three Information Technology units to
examine and assess the alternatives for 1) digital content development and support and 2)
digital content storage and management. Eventually, the ESC split into two
subcommittees to consider these two disparate topics.
Responding to faculty needs in information technology has never been more challenging
or rewarding. The role and contribution of technology in teaching, learning, and research
has emerged as one of the main trends and issues in higher education institutions. Based
on its assessment, the Digital Content Development and Support Subcommittee explains
the development of static applications such as vector and bitmap graphics, dynamic
applications such as video/audio and motion graphics, interaction applications such as
simulation and case studies, and immersive virtual reality applications. The group then
defines needed support on three levels: resource, personnel, and implementation. The
support system is divided into 1) on-demand and problem-based support by Local Service
Providers at each college without limitation of time and place, 2) consultative support,
provided by Instructional Designers to help faculty integrate technology in teaching and
learning and by teams assembled to help faculty with development and delivery needs,
and 3) a dedicated team in the University Teleplex with expertise to help faculty in
development of digital assets and their deployment in the classroom.
The growing use of digital technologies in instruction and learning and the great
proliferation of digital content require careful consideration of digital asset storage and
delivery systems. After gathering information on the current campus storage
infrastructure and viewing reports and demonstrations by digital storage/management
vendors, the Digital Content Storage and Management Subcommittee recommends a
combination of Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Networks (SAN) for
digital storage needs at Ball State University. The Subcommittee then describes the
features of an ideal digital content management and delivery system for use by faculty
and students. While the ideal model does not represent any specific product, the
CONTENTdm digital management system currently being implemented by University
Libraries informed much of the Subcommittee’s discussions. Several issues relating to
digital content management that require further discussion are also identified.
Mr. John Fillwalk, Faculty, Department of Art
Dr. Ron Cosby, Faculty, Department of Physics & Astronomy
Dr. Gail Ring, Faculty, Department of Educational Studies
Mr. Rick Johnson, Faculty, Department of Industry and Technology
Dr. David Keuhl, Faculty, Department of Urban Planning
Dr. Sushil Sharma, Faculty, Department of Information Systems and Operations
Mr. Stanley Sollars, Faculty, Department of Telecommunications
Ms. Sharon Roberts, Assistant Dean, University Libraries
Mr. Alan Gordon, Production Manager, University Teleplex
Mr. Alex Chalmers, Lead System Manager/Security Engineer, University Computing
Dr. Bizhan Nasseh, Assistant to Vice President for Information Technology, Office of
Information Technology, ESC Chair
In order to address the issues of digital content development and support as well as digital
content storage and management, Dr. O’Neal Smitherman, Vice President for
Information Technology, and Dr. Bizhan Nasseh, Assistant to Vice President, for
Information Technology and chair of the ESC, assembled an Environmental Scanning
Committee, consisting of representatives from the seven colleges and three Information
Technology units in order to examine and assess the alternatives for digital content
development and support and for digital content storage and management. Terms of
reference given to the Committee were:
• Scan the environment for digital content development and support methods,
procedures, and technologies and propose new solutions for digital content
development and support at Ball State University.
• Scan the environment for digital content storage and management technologies
and propose new solutions for digital content storage and management at Ball
Since digital content development and support and digital content storage and
management are two distinct subjects, it was decided to divide the committee members
into two subcommittees.
A subcommittee, consisting of Ron Cosby, John Fillwalk, Patrick Gordon, David Keuhl,
Bizhan Nasseh, and Gail Ring, was charged with working on digital content development
and support. This subcommittee was further divided into two subgroups: Cosby, Ring and
Fillwalk worked on content development, while Nasseh, Gordon, and Keuhl worked on
development support and services. The other subcommittee, composed of Rick Johnson,
Sharon Roberts, Sushil Sharma, Alex Chalmers, Stan Sollars, and Bizhan Nasseh, was
charged with investigating digital content storage and management. This subcommittee
was also divided into two subgroups: Johnson, Roberts, and Nasseh worked on digital
content management, while Sharma, Chalmers, and Sollars worked on digital content
storage. The ESC met for the first time on September 15, 2004, at which time Dr. O’Neal
Smitherman spelled out the objectives and the scope of the Committee’s assignment.
After that, the groups met separately every second week to investigate and discuss the
Since there were two subcommittees, this report is divided in two chapters to reflect each
committee’s work: Chapter One, Digital Content Development and Support and
Chapter Two, Digital Content Storage and Management.
DIGITAL CONTENT DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT
I. Digital Content Development
This section begins with an evaluation of the various tools that may be used in the
development of digital content and concludes with recommendations on how to support
the use of these tools. A three-tiered approach to the development and support of digital
content is proposed:
1. Faculty centric
3. Teleplex centric
At the faculty centric level there is the expectation that a baseline of understanding and
use at the faculty level can be assumed. That is, there is the belief that there are core tools
with which faculty should be proficient and to which they should have access on office
computers, such as PowerPoint for building presentations, a web editor for developing
web pages, or Adobe PDF writer for completing university reports. The second tier, the
blended approach to the use of tools, may be more of a just-in-time approach where
faculty have an idea of an innovative use of technology in their courses, but do not quite
know how to complete the task. At the blended tier the faculty work with an instructional
technology person to develop the digital content. The third tier, the Teleplex centric tier,
involves high-end tasks only supported at the university level. For these tasks the faculty
hires out the development of the digital content to instructional technology specialists in
the Teleplex. This is high-end development, such as virtual reality, where it is cost
prohibitive to have the tools in each college or on faculty computers.
Identifying and organizing software applications helps in understanding the variety of
tools needed for digital content development. The block diagram in Figure A depicts one
possible organizational structure for software applications for digital content creation.
Applications are categorized as static, dynamic, and interactive. Within each category,
application types are identified and examples are given for each type. Hyperlinks for
these examples are given in Table 1. These lists are not exhaustive and will grow as new
digital media and software applications are introduced for use in instruction.
Figure B contains the various tools that might be used in the development of digital
content and represents the process of adding new instructional tools to a core set. In
general, the perceived state of maturity of the tool or application decreases as the radial
distance increases from the diagram center. Clearly, there are connections among the
layers, with multiple tools likely used for an application. Figure C illustrates the overlap
that occurs in the development of much digital content; for example, in the development
of a case study one might employ video, simulations, and animation simultaneously.
The general applicability of artificial intelligence tools is indicated by the shaded areas
stretching across much of the tool hierarchy.
Figure A. Software Applications for Digital Content Creation.
BALL STATE UNIVERISTY
ITAG: ENVIRONMENTAL SCANNING COMMITTEE
DIGITAL CONTENT SUBCOMMITTEE
SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS FOR DIGITAL CONTENT CREATION
NTSC VIDEO FINAL CUT PRO
ILLUSTRATOR VECTOR AUDIO
PHOTOSHOP BITMAP STATIC DYNAMIC MAYA
FIREWORKS GRAPHICS APPLICATIONS APPLICATIONS 3D ANIMATION SOFT IMAGE XSI
SOFTWARE 3D STUDIO MAX
BITMAP AFTER EFFECTS
GRAPHICS 2D ANIMATION COMBUSTION
& COMPOSITING SHAKE
GAME NET AND
PHYSICAL DVD NON-IMMERSIVEIMMERSIVE
AUTHORING SIMULATION DISK-BASED
COMPUTING AUTHORING VIRTUAL REALITY
GO LIVE DVD STUDIOPRO QTVR
SIMCAD PRO MAX/MSP CAVE
DREAMWEAVER A.PACK VR WOR
3D CAKEWALK SIMUL8 IMX JOHN-E--BOX
DIRECTOR COMPRESSOR STITCHER
TABLE 1. Software Applications for Digital Content Creation. Hyperlinks are included
for the example tools in electronic form.
I. STATIC APPLICATIONS
A. VECTOR GRAPHICS
B. BITMAP GRAPHICS
II. DYNAMIC APPLICATIONS
A. VIDEO AND AUDIO
PRO TOOLS (www.digidesign.com/)
DIGITAL PERFORMER (www.motu.com/products/software/dp)
2. NTSC VIDEO AND HDTV
FINAL CUT PRO (www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/)
B. MOTION GRAPHICS
1. 3D ANIMATION
SOFT IMAGE XSI
3D STUDIO MAX (www4.discreet.com/3dsmax/)
2. BITMAP 2D ANIMATION AND COMPOSITING
AFTER EFFECTS (www.adobe.com/products/aftereffects/)
3. VECTOR-BASED ANIMATION
III. INTERACTIVE APPLICATIONS
SIMCAD PRO (www.createasoft.com/)
B. NET AND DISK-BASED AUTHORING
GO LIVE (www.adobe.com/products/golive/main.html)
C. PHYSICAL COMPUTING
D. DVD AUTHORING
DVD STUDIOPRO (www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/dvdstudiopro/)
E. NON-IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL REALITY
VR WORX (www.vrtoolbox.com/vrthome.html)
F. GAME AUTHORING ENVIRONMENTS
3D GAMESTUDIO (www.conitec.net/a4info.htm)
3D CAKEWALK (www.3dcakewalk.com/)
G. IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL REALITY
Figure B. Categories of tools for digital content development represented as spherical
layers, with the tool maturity highest at the core.
Figure C. Illustration of multiple tools used in the creation of an instructional
There are many uses of video in education such as the use of video conferencing for
tutoring, mentoring, distance education, and virtual field trips; the development of video
segments used in problem-based learning activities, the assessment of student teachers,
and presentation development; or the use of video in research for conducting qualitative
video interview or video observation, to name a few.
Faculty centric tasks may be done in the professor’s office using a desktop or laptop
computer, video camera, and basic software such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker.
For example, with simply a video camera and a computer with a FireWire port, faculty in
Teachers College can videotape their teacher candidates teaching a lesson or researchers
can videotape interviews of study participants for analysis.
Blended tasks may require support from instructional technology specialists or assistants.
For example, a project currently being conducted in an educational technology class
includes the use of University Teleplex video services to videotape student instruction;
the digitized video will then be given to the students so that they can edit the content
themselves using iMovie.
Teleplex centric tasks are completely outsourced to a university expert. These types of
video projects will require more expertise or higher-end equipment than the faculty has
understanding of or access to. The electronic field trips project at Ball State University is
one example of a Teleplex centric video project.
With increased integration of technology in education as well as the push for more
inquiry-based teaching, the use of case studies is becoming more prevalent. By definition,
case studies are real world problems which allow students to construct knowledge in an
authentic environment using a variety of tools. Case studies are highly student centered
and their design often involves the use of multiple forms of media, such as video or
animation. Consequently, the learning activities should also allow for multiple
representations of content.
Case studies are simply stories in which students work to identify a problem, gather
information pertinent to solving the problem, identify a number of possible solutions, and
make recommendations for action. The format of cases may vary, some using the
internet, a newspaper, or a video clip. Because case studies usually involve learning by
doing, the technology utilized may tend to be more faculty, or even, student centric.
However, some cases may be presented that involve more elaborate tools such as
simulations or virtual reality. Whatever the format, case studies engage students in
critical thinking, decision making, creativity, and collaboration with others.
Faculty centric tasks may require faculty to prepare a brief video clip or simulation to
present the problem and faculty may need assistance in creating these materials.
Depending on the complexity of the case, it is feasible to predict that multiple levels of
support will be required for the use of case studies at Ball State University.
A simulation predicts the behavior of a system under a user-defined set of conditions.
Computer simulations are based on system models (often represented mathematically)
and provide flexibility and rapid response to “what-if” questions. If the model is
accurate, the design and functioning of a new system may be studied and optimized prior
to fabrication. In higher education, simulations are used for the enhancement of learning
in many disciplines. With the current emphasis on student-centered instruction models,
computer simulations can play an increasing role in student learning at Ball State
University, both for on-campus students and those enrolled in distance learning courses.
In addition to visual, auditory, and text presentations, the student is engaged in learning
the process of data collection, modeling, and cause and effect, i.e., the functional
relationships that form the core knowledge of a topic of study. Posing “what-if” inquiries
can potentially stimulate the desired creativity and critical thinking in our students.
Faculty will use commercially-available simulation software specific to their disciplines.
Resources for the purchase of discipline-specific simulation software will be needed for
an expansion of the use of simulations in instruction. Faculty centric tasks may simply
involve learning to use the software and devising instructional exercises based on the
simulation capabilities. Faculty may also create and use their own simulations employing
available computer tools on office-accessible computers. Assistance from instructional
design and software development staff may be needed or desired at all or any stages,
depending on the simulation complexity, faculty expertise, and time. General simulation
tools for the desktop will likely be needed for an expanded development and use of
simulations by faculty. For the development of complex new simulations useful in their
instruction, the Teleplex centric level of support may be required, with the faculty
member detailing the idea, need, and desired functions while development is completely
by the support staff using sophisticated, perhaps limited-copy simulation tools.
Electronic and computer gaming continues to engage the attention of a significant
segment of our youth. Gaming is now being tested and used as a vehicle for instruction
and is likely to become an important pedagogical element in student learning at all levels.
A game generally has an objective to be reached while a prescribed set of rules is
followed. By their very nature, games are interactive and engage the participants in
performing individual activities. Computer games may therefore be used as interactive
learning or student-centered learning resources.
Simulations, high performance graphics, and case studies are integral to instructional
gaming. The setting, goals, and tasks in a particular game constitute a case study.
“What-if” questions are now asked in the context of a defined objective or target.
Feedback is immediate and dynamic. The skill and speed with which an objective or
target can be reached is made dependent on the user’s understanding of the model behind
the simulation. The user is then motivated to learn the principles, laws, and features of
the model. High performance graphics assist the learning process through visual
representations and therefore visual learning by the user.
Digital content development for instructional gaming may also require a three-tiered
approach, for faculty will need assistance in all aspects of instructional gaming. The
relative immaturity of the field and lack of faculty experience in instructional gaming
likely indicate a higher need for support at the Teleplex centric and blended tier levels.
Gaming development tools for the faculty desktop combined with assistance from
instructional designers will allow faculty generation of simple game courseware. For the
on-campus creation of sophisticated computer gaming, generic tools must be identified,
acquired, used, and maintained at the Teleplex level.
Computer animation is often integrated into a wide variety of projects in an academic
environment. Two-dimensional animation can be used in web design, multimedia, DVD
production, games, simulations, and video. Software tools that are used to produce two-
dimensional vector-based and bitmapped animation include Flash, Live Motion, and
After Effects. Three-dimensional animation is used in visualization, simulation, virtual
reality, video, games, and various aspects of interactive interface design. Software tools
that enable 3D animation include 3D Studio Max and Lightwave 3D for general work to
Softimage XSI and Maya for demanding productions.
Although off-the-shelf products, these tools require a significant commitment in learning
appropriate workflow. Industry-standard 3D software tends to have the steepest learning
curves of any application type, intended, as it is, to be used by highly trained specialists
in a professional production facility. Unless a faculty member would require constant
need or a unique approach to the work through the filter of a specialization, in most cases,
animation would normally be produced in a blended or Teleplex centric mode. This
would allow the faculty member to produce the desired product with a discipline-specific
approach without the enormous commitment to develop entirely new skill sets. Web-
based animations produced by Flash or Image Ready are less demanding to acquire the
necessary skill sets.
Projects that incorporate virtual reality can be either non-immersive or immersive.
Examples of non-immersive virtual reality technologies would be QuickTime VR
Panoramas or Objects that allow for real-time screen-based manipulations and
interactions. Immersive environments typically require wearable input devices, such as
goggles and a data glove, to interact with a navigable world that is represented in visual
Of all of the modalities referred to in this report, the conception and execution of a
project involving immersive virtual reality would be at the apex of the design, skill sets,
testing, and resources required to develop in this mode of production. Immersive virtual
environments typically involve all aspects of digital production from imaging, sound,
animation, programming, physical computing, and video and are on the cutting-edge of
visual digital research requiring high-level skills, design, and resources, as well as a
dedicated space. The production of the virtual environment is essentially an exploration
of innovative interface design that functions on an immersive physical, human-scaled
level. This type of project requires a collaborative model of production and project
management where artists, technicians, and programmers contribute to the development
of the project. Due to the scale and complexity of the many skills and technologies, a
faculty member pursuing an immersive virtual project would work primarily in the
Teleplex centric mode of production.
Information technology continues to progress at a rapid pace. Student learning using
information technology will evolve with new capabilities, new and enhanced tools, and
even new paradigms for assisting students. Ball State University must continually
evaluate frontier information technologies for application to student learning. Sufficient
resources must be devoted to efforts at the three activity tiers, described as faculty,
blended, and Teleplex, to research, acquire, evaluate, and test these frontier technologies.
In order to make the progress that Ball State University hopes to achieve technologically,
there are steps that must be taken today. The Digital Content Development subgroup
identifies two basic levels or areas involving resource issues and personnel issues. In
addition, we suggest an implementation approach that targets faculty willing and eager to
introduce new instructional technologies. The following are recommendations we feel
are necessary in order to accomplish our goals.
• Three levels of support must be available, with personnel hired to staff these support
• Funding the purchase of the tools.
• Faculty buyout.
• Mini-grants for digital asset development.
• Faculty Technology Fellowships.
• Faculty remuneration for the development of digital assets.
• Hiring practices should be written to ensure that new faculty are proficient in the use
of core tools.
• Faculty must be rewarded for the development of digital instructional tools.
• Digital asset development should be recognized in the tenure and promotion process.
• Target the early majority, i.e., faculty who embrace change.
In order for any type of innovation to be successful we must remember that the time it
takes for individuals to adopt innovations (new technology tools in our case) is
predictable based on "personal characteristics, salient values, communications behaviors
and social relationships" of faculty. (Rogers, 1985). In his book Diffusion of Innovations
Rogers classifies individuals into five adopter groups: innovators, representing 2.5% of
the population; early adopters, the opinion leaders representing 13.5%; early majority,
34% who follow the opinion leaders moving toward change; the late majority, also 34%,
who take more time to carefully examine the innovation and look for the benefits
associated with the change; and finally the laggards, 16% of the population who are
resistant to change and may even try to subvert the innovation. The groups he identified
describe the innovativeness of the group members. Based on the research of Rogers and
others, we suggest that focus be paid to the faculty that embrace change and possess the
characteristics which correlate positively with change, such as venturesomeness,
cosmopolitism, greater achievement, positive attitude toward change, and those that are
II. Digital Content Development Support
The enhancement of student learning through the instructional use of digital technology is
a goal of the University. Faculty in the classroom identify specific needs, recognize
opportunities, and seek technological solutions. Realizing these technological solutions
requires the assistance of trained staff. The three-tiered approach to digital content
development for instructional applications described in a previous section will require the
active involvement of Instructional Designers, Local Service Providers, and digital
technology specialists. In general, faculty will require support by a team of staff with
some or all of these capabilities. The expertise and the role played in digital content
development by the Instructional Designer, the Local Service Provider, and the digital
content support team are described below.
Instructional Design is the art and science of creating a detailed specification for
processes that enhance teaching and learning using technology. An Instructional Designer
is an expert that will assist faculty to design, develop and integrate effective uses of
technology, resources, and digital assets in the classroom. Instructional Designers will
assist the faculty member to develop a pedagogy that takes advantage of possibilities
created by technology. In addition, the Instructional Designer will seek out additional
media resources and design tools to incorporate and evaluate the development of projects
and their effectiveness in the classroom. The Instructional Designer can also assemble
needed experts, tools, and assets for development of digital instructional resources and
In many cases, selection and the use of various web-based media such as graphics, text,
audio, video, animation, applets, and scripts are related to 1) knowledge of those digital
assets and how to assemble and use them and 2) the need to accomplish a defined set of
goals and strategies related to the instructional goals, while also considering faculty and
student competencies. Instructional Designers can help faculty members in the selection
and utilization of web-based media and digital assets. Following are some of the needed
contributions from Instructional Designers:
• Define instructional goals of both teacher and student.
• Assist the faculty to select resources that satisfy instructional goals.
• Define/understand the target audience’s needs, competencies, and skills.
• Analyze the teaching and learning environment.
• Define needed support and training.
• Assemble needed experts for development and delivery.
• Address specific technology-related teaching needs as applied to instruction.
• Design additional material, such as workbooks, instructor guides, and user
It is clear that faculty members require additional support and consultation beyond that
currently offered in order to understand and exploit technology and its uses. Developing
an effective process for integration of technology in teaching and learning and developing
pedagogy to benefit from technology are essential. An Instructional Designer is the
needed ingredient for effective utilization of technology in teaching and learning.
Local Service Providers
According to the Campus Computing Survey, “Assisting faculty efforts to integrate
information technology into instruction remains the single most important information
technology issue confronting American colleges and universities,” while “ providing
adequate user support” ranks second. Faculty members are highly autonomous and they
have different levels of skills, styles, needs, and talents. In addition, faculty prefer to
receive consultation, help, and needed assistance in their own private office environments
rather than in group training or open lab.
Information Technology is fully aware that in the complex environment of information
technology, faculty members need support, services, and consultation in many areas such
as multimedia tools utilization, digital asset development, network access, Internet-based
activities, web development, and hardware and software problem solving. In addition to
the above needs, hassle-free and on-demand support and problem solving were key
reasons for development of the Local Service Providers and their assignments in colleges
at Ball State University.
Each college has a Local Service Provider (LSP) that serves that college. In the present
assignments, the LSP in each college handles questions and problems about computer
hardware and software, digital communication and collaboration tools, Internet
connection, and other related problem solving topics. The LSP in each college has
valuable knowledge about most of the faculty members’ technology skills, needs, and
experiences in the college and also has some level of knowledge about the college’s
discipline-based technology needs and utilization. In addition, faculty members in each
college have worked with the LSPs and developed a personal and professional comfort
level. These mutual relationships and knowledge will make the LSP a perfect first level
contact, consultant, and in some cases partner in digital asset development and delivery in
each college. In addition, all the LSPs in Information Technology have strong basic skills
in technology and development tools, and some level of knowledge about asset
development and delivery. The above experience, relationships, and knowledge are good
reasons to expand current responsibilities of the LSP in each college in order to help
faculty in learning more about development and delivery tools, integration of technology
in instruction, and development of digital assets and presentations. LSPs’ contributions
are at the basic level of development and delivery, but a majority of faculty needs are also
at the basic level and instantaneous.
The following steps can help to develop new functions and support LSPs’ new activities:
1. Define clearly what is the first level on-demand support and services in digital
2. Continue on-demand support and services for consultation and problem solving.
3. Provide on-demand and hassle-free technical support and assistance in the
development of digital assets and digital presentations.
4. Assist faculty in integrating technology into their teaching and learning activities
and digital resource preparation.
5. Offer hands-on, problem-based training for faculty in using technology and tools
without limitation of time and place.
6. Evaluate faculty needs in learning and share this information with the training
team for more training.
7. Facilitate access to experts in development and delivery for the LSPs.
8. Prepare the LSPs for the new assignments and provide continuous training for
This model not only provides first level support and services in digital asset development,
but also offers opportunities for one-on-one and problem-based training for faculty
members in the use of development tools, development of digital assets, integration of
technology in instruction, and delivery of technology-based instruction.
To help LSPs with the additional responsibilities, each LSP should be assigned one or
two student helpers. This additional help can free some of the LSP’s time to focus on
learning new skills and contributing in the new capacity. The assigned students can help
the LSP in the following support and services:
1. Installation of new hardware and software
2. Upgrading current hardware and software
3. Connection to Network and access to different storages
4. Problem solving in daily operations and support for software and tools such as
Outlook and MS Word
This change in the LSPs’ assignments is essential for faculty technology fluency in
digital asset development and for encouraging/facilitating faculty’s use of the technology
in teaching, learning, and research. The key is for the needed support and service to be on
demand and hassle free without limitation of time and place. The shift to a new paradigm
is not simple, but the results can be huge for faculty, students, and the University.
Support for Digital Content Development
The potential of technology is extraordinary, but so are the challenges of developing
quality technology-enabled programs and digital resources for teaching, learning, and
research. Technology in the classroom is a rapidly changing dynamic. With the growth of
this technology in today’s society, it is imperative that we begin to look at the needs of
our students, the way that they learn, and how we can benefit from the possibilities
created by technology in advancing our teaching, learning, and research. Fortunately,
every discipline has rich events, concepts, examples, models, and knowledge bases. The
conversion of them into appropriate hands-on and interactive digital resources in the form
of computer case studies, simulations, applications, and intelligent systems can be a
difficult task for most faculty members. To assist faculty in digital content development,
a support system must be provided for them.
Some guiding principles for the development of a support system are:
• Assist faculty to develop skills and knowledge about the power and possibilities
of technology and their contributions essential for the development of quality
• Develop a team with needed technical and methodological skills that can support
faculty application development and delivery needs in teaching, learning, and
• Assist faculty members in using instructional technology and tools such as
Blackboard, FrontPage, iWeb, Gradebook, and InQsit.
• Assist faculty members in the development of digital assets for presentation and
• Assist faculty members to select tools, technologies, and methodologies that are
most appropriate to their instructional and pedagogical goals.
• Arrange a development team from broad interdisciplinary groups from IT and the
Office of Teaching and Learning Advancement.
• Assist the faculty with new technologies and methodologies and share new
knowledge and skills with the campus community.
The primary objective of the digital content development team is to provide support for
production and/or consultation on development tools and methodologies and to partner in
the development of digital assets and instructional delivery. The following examples of
digital asset development activities can help in the development of the support team.
The usual digital asset produced takes the form of a multimedia project. During the
initial design process the formats for delivering the product will be identified. These
projects may comprise text, audio, animation, video, and graphics, or various
combinations of these. Besides the faculty member as the project director, the required
design/production team may include a production manager, multimedia project manager,
producer/director, graphic artist, videographer, video editor, and an animator. The typical
digital content development project might take one to twelve months to complete and can
take hundreds of person hours from the support team, not counting the many hours that
the faculty member will have invested. Unless faculty load time (buyout) is provided,
these large undertakings by the faculty member will be on top of their normal day-to-day
responsibilities. To assist faculty members on campus with the development of digital
assets for their classrooms, a number of services must be provided. Below are the types
of services that can be offered:
• Video production
• Single or multiple camera documentation of events, lectures, guest speakers,
interviews, b-roll, studio and remote production services
• Videotaping of classroom lectures and student presentations
• Editing of electronic field productions, streaming for web, CD-ROM, DVD, and
• Script writing
• Production design
• Video consultation services
• Studio productions
• Satellite uplink and downlink services
• Duplication services
• Format assistance, including MII, D-5, C-3, DVC-Pro 25mb, DVC-Pro 50mb,
MiniDV, DVC, VHS, SVHS, CD-Rom, DVD-Rom
• Instructional design for learning modules
• Blackboard creation and design development
• Interactive CD-ROM and DVD design and development
• Video digitizing
• WWW design and development
• Interactive training modules
• Multimedia authoring
• Electronic graphic production for video, print, CD-ROM, DVD, WWW
• Computer generated images to 35mm film transfers
• Print and WWW publications, including design, graphics, and video
The faculty member’s concept will be the determining factor in the composition of the
development team. The complexities of the concept and the faculty member’s level of
understanding in technology are just two of several factors that will be taken into
consideration when putting the team together. We need to remember that pedagogy is the
driving factor for digital asset development, not technology. It is important to find new
ways to get faculty involved in producing these types of materials and in learning new
technologies that they can use in the classroom to enhance their teaching.
• Evaluate the possibility of having one to three Instructional Designers
who can advise faculty on technology-based pedagogical issues and assist them to
use technologies, tools, and new methodologies more effectively and to integrate
technology and digital resources to satisfy instructional goals of teaching and
• Expand the responsibilities of Local Service Providers to encompass basic,
first level support and services for using technology in the development of online
presentations and resources and the delivery of online instruction.
• Develop/organize team(s) with needed skills to support faculty with digital
asset and course content development. In addition, these groups can help faculty
with innovative ideas in digital content development and can develop migration
paths for new technologies and methodologies at Ball State University.
DIGITAL CONTENT STORAGE AND MANAGEMENT
III. Digital Content Storage
Ball State University has almost 19,000 students and its data is on target to double every
three years. Data storage requirements are expanding in every direction. Faculty and
students are more dependent on computer systems and applications. Even basic email,
which once consisted of a few paragraphs of text, now consumes multiple megabytes of
presentations, graphics, and video. New applications from e-learning to audio and video
editing and online streaming can now not only fill whole disk drives but also need a
different approach for consolidating data storage and digital asset management.
Traditional storage solutions directly attached to computer systems may not be effective
or accessible or scalable in meeting growing storage requirements. Greater flexibility is
needed, enabling multiple computer systems to access any storage devices regardless of
location. Scattered data storages across campus result in inefficient use and at times
replication of storage resources. Each year, departments are demanding more storage
capacity. University Computing Services must not only house and manage these
departmental servers but also provide backup and data restoration to protect against loss
or corruption, all to ensure uninterrupted services to faculty, staff, and students.
Increasing storage management and administration costs have resulted in significant
interest in moving from a direct-attached storage model to a more scalable and
manageable networked storage model.
Present Data Storage and Digital Asset Management
Data-storage requirements are continually increasing for Ball State University as a result
of trends such as increasing numbers of new administrative IT applications in the higher
education environment (e.g., student information systems and Web-based self-service
applications for students) and video- and audio-based applications that generate large
amounts of data. A growing population of students and faculty using computers is
demanding more storage space for data. In the future, the rise of distance learning,
broadcasted instructional programming, and e-learning will generate an increasing
amount of online content to be stored and distributed. The nearly universal adoption of
online communication technologies, especially email, also drives increased storage
University Libraries, University Computing Services, and all the departments combined
have around 27 terabytes of storage in use today, spread across many server systems
using Unix, Windows, and Macintosh. In the last two years Computing Services has seen
100% growth in the number of server systems and their associated storage that it manages
and there is every sign that this expansion will continue. As well as new services, existing
services' requirement for storage continues to increase. Some departments, such as
Telecommunications and Music, have significant storage needs and already have multi-
terabyte, network-attached storage solutions that go some way toward satisfying their
present requirements but may not be adequate in the future.
One major area of expansion in coming years will be e-learning. An essential requirement
of e-learning is that uptimes need to be closer and closer to 100%. E-learning may also be
a major driver for increased storage, as media-rich content within the University grows.
A 24/7 learning environment will require as close to 100% availability as we can achieve.
In general, resilient services need to be built on resilient hardware, and resilient storage is
a key factor in achieving this goal.
In determining the right numbers for storage, the Digital Content Storage subgroup did
not have data input estimations (real data needs) from all departments. To estimate the
volume of data requiring storage, we got some input from a few departments and made
approximations for the rest of it.
Estimation of data storage needs:
Present total data storage = 27 TB
Music Technology/School of Music = 15TB
TCOM = 30TB video and 15TB audio
University Libraries = 5 terabytes
We also used past growth of data storage as a rule of thumb. In the past three years data
storage has exhibited a fourfold growth rate.. Using that same growth rate, storage
requirements would easily be above 100 terabytes in the next three years. Since real data
storage requirements from all departments were not available, the group had the
• Lack of firm usage/capacity planning data
• Lack of knowledge of data management software for storage implementation
• Lack of data use classifications (high-end video, text, etc.) and their total use
Consequently, the recommendations that follow should be treated as more of a
philosophy of storage architecture. Real storage volume will be calculated based on
storage requirement input from all departments.
Storage networking has been around since the early 1990s, but the deployment of storage
networks is just starting to build momentum. Industry analysts are predicting that storage
networks, such as network attached storage and storage area networks, will flourish over
direct-attached storage due to lower cost of ownership and better reliability. Storage
networks enable new ways to store, access, and share data that are more reliable and cost
Storage networking provides a standards-based infrastructure that allows colleges and
universities to better utilize and share storage resources, thereby reducing total cost of
ownership and improving data availability and integrity. There are two dominant storage
networking technologies: Storage Area Networks (SAN) and Network Attached Storage
(NAS). Both SAN and NAS technologies allow storage and computing devices to be
attached over a network. Storage devices are no longer isolated behind a single computer.
This allows data access from across the campus, city, or even country. It also allows for
storage consolidation, increasing efficiency and reducing costs. This consolidation of data
simplifies storage administration and data backup and recovery; it also allows for easy
scaling to meet growing storage requirements. Storage area networking is well suited for
campus-based applications for real-time transactions and database access, including data
mirroring, backup, and restoration via fiber channel interconnections.
A combination of SAN and NAS technologies can be a very effective solution for digital
assets storage and management. By implementing NAS and SAN, Ball State University
can consolidate its storage resources. Storage consolidation enables organizations to
avoid purchases of additional storage because space can be allocated where it is needed.
Centralized fiber channel storage (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) support
growth, increase scalability and availability, improve disaster recovery, enable more
efficient use of server resources, and provide greater utilization of virtual technologies for
application consolidation. Consolidated email enables delivery of more enhanced
services, eliminates several servers, and is easier to administer. Centralized backup and
recovery increases recoverability and reduces server, network, and backup resources and
network-based backup time.
Criteria for our Recommendations
The Digital Content Storage group considered the following factors in recommending for
NAS and SAN solutions:
When storage is required for many services spread across many servers,
oftentimes one service needs more disk storage which is difficult or expensive to
add, while on another service the needed capacity already exists but cannot be
accessed. Centralized storage will help to resolve this situation. All the software
packages, various databases, unified messaging, and central campus calendaring
can be offered to the entire campus through the central setup. A centralized
storage environment utilizes resources more efficiently and allows for the
development of a central recovery procedure.
Centralized or Distributed Storage
Another key decision is how to architect a system with multiple servers. There are
several options: centralized storage, distributed storage, or a combination of both.
In the Ball State University environment where many people may need access to
the same data such as specific video clips, a centralized storage environment
allows fast and easy access for all to a single clip. For example, a fast breaking
story may have six or more editors working on the same video clip. In a tape-
based environment, it would need to be copied at least 6 times. With centralized
storage, it is loaded onto the server and all have immediate access. In a distributed
environment, it is loaded onto one server and the file is transferred to the other
servers, generally at faster than real-time speeds. And if the server supports
streaming, editors can start working on the clip seconds after it has started to be
received without waiting for the whole clip to be transferred. A good solution is a
combination of centralized and distributed storage. The Department of
Telecommunications may have a centralized storage system for editing and
production. When the clip is done, it is transferred to a playout server (probably
mirrored). Thus the playout portion is isolated from the production area. Playout
is protected from single failures or from someone in production editing a clip
targeted to air. This architecture enables those who really need common access to
video centralized storage, while playout is totally protected from a catastrophic
failure. Therefore, a combination of both solutions is recommended.
A NAS and SAN solution is essentially a consolidation of storage into a virtual
storage pool where the storage requirements of any service can be built and
reconfigured as needed. The service host is connected to the SAN in essentially
the same way that a desktop system is connected to the network, providing a
logical separation of service host and storage. NAS and SAN technologies
provide a central location for shared data and simplify the process of attaching,
expanding, and reallocating storage among multiple servers. Using SCSI and fiber
channel switches and hubs for redundant access paths, NAS and SANs also
increase overall availability. Any node on the SAN can be connected or
disconnected without disrupting service to other nodes.
If the host computer breaks or needs to be upgraded, a new one can be attached
almost seamlessly without changing the storage. As a service's storage
requirements grow, the virtual disk space associated with the service can be easily
increased with minimal disruption. Consolidation will also result in more
effective use of this storage.
Manageability—Backup and Recovery Analysis
Backing up many disparate storage pools is a major problem. Either one backs up
each server with its own backup device, typically some jukebox device, or one
backs up over the network. A great deal of effort goes into managing backups.
With so many different types of devices, software, and procedures, backup and
recovery of systems depends on dedicated individuals. Many different skill sets
are required, and some procedures are at times not documented. There should be a
centralized enterprise backup environment to encompass software and library. For
critical University services, NAS and SAN hardware will provide faster, highly
resilient data storage.
Data Availability and Integrity
Storage downtime can have a serious adverse effect on daily operations. Today’s
diverse student population includes on-campus students, distance learners, and
prospective students. All require 24-hour access to information on the network.
Also audio and video applications may need editing or display as the data streams
during classroom demonstrations. Downtime can also severely affect university
teaching and research activities, reducing productivity and even losing data.
Redundant, multiple paths of NAS and SANs from servers to storage provide
scalable support for automated failover across all storage systems. Servers can
connect to remote storage even over vast distances, bypassing traditional cable
limitations. By bypassing the geographical limitations of direct-attached
environments, NAS and SANs enable remote replication of not just one storage
subsystem but, potentially, entire data centers.
The technical arguments in favor of moving to a storage solution based on NAS and SAN
technologies for the data intensive parts of the University is compelling, but not
surprisingly, they come at a cost. NAS and SANs are easier to manage than direct
attached storage (DAS) because they offer a simplified, central point of control for
monitoring, backup, replication, and provisioning. A recent study by McKinsey and
Merrill Lynch shows that the total cost outlays of SAN solutions typically are less than
half that of DAS solutions, primarily because of management cost savings. Many other
universities have already installed NAS and SANs and many others are looking at them
IV. Digital Content Management:
Computer literacy and use has increased dramatically among Ball State faculty and
students over the past decade, in line with the University’s emphasis on bringing the
latest technologies to bear in classroom instruction and learning, study and research, and
product development. The result has been an increase in the production of digital assets,
many of which now reside on personal or departmental computer hard drives, laptops,
PDA’s, and networked but localized drives and servers across campus. This trend has
resulted in the need not only for vastly increased storage capacity and some type of
centralized repository for digital assets but also for an institutional content management
system that will facilitate deposit, retrieval, use, and sharing of digital assets on an
anytime/anywhere basis and that will ensure the preservation of digital content,
manifested in a variety of formats, for as long as needed. It has been the focus of the
ESC Content Management subgroup, through a process of discussions and readings, to
identify and describe key features and functions of a content management system
intended for use by faculty and students.
The group began with the following presumptions:
• The system described will be an ideal system, not a specific product or software.
• The University does not have the time or resources to develop a content management
We perceived our task to be the identification of those attributes in a content management system
that would best enable faculty and students with varying skill levels and purposes to create,
access, and use digital assets anytime and anywhere. The list of desired features that follows
represents an ideal system. There may be no system currently available that has all of the
attributes listed. Since some features are of greater importance than others, the points under each
heading are ordered from most to least important. The overarching concern in describing a
digital content management system for faculty and students has been ease of use and flexibility,
accompanied by the need for a strong security component and low system maintenance. Early in
its discussions the group also concluded that a product of the sophistication and complexity
required would have to be vendor-developed. The University does not have the human or
financial resources or the time to devote to developing its own system or customizing open
The following recommendations with respect to digital content management are offered:
• University Libraries evaluate the content management section of the ESC
report and its recommendations.
• Develop policies and procedures regarding implementation and use of the
content management system.
• Develop a plan for including digital resources outside of Ball State in the
• Centralize responsibility for administration of the system in Bracken
• Develop an ongoing program for training Ball State faculty and students in
use of the system and application of its policies and procedures.
• Develop an ongoing support service for content developers in such areas
as proxy submission, batch importing/exporting, and metadata
Collecting, organizing, preserving and providing assess to all types of information in
support of the University’s instructional and research programs is at the core of
University Libraries’ mission. In recent years, University Libraries has incorporated an
increasing number of electronic and digital resources into its collections. Library
personnel are developing expertise with the special challenges associated with digital
media access and management, including the technologies, metadata creation, and digital
rights issues. The Libraries’ current experience implementing a digital content
management system (i.e., CONTENTdm) will inform and provide a practical basis
against which to evaluate the ideas and recommendations in the content management
section of this report.
Successful implementation and development of any content management system requires
careful planning and policy development. This process will be especially crucial for an
undertaking of the scope and purposes outlined in this paper. With multiple contributors
and users of the system, clear understanding of rights and privileges, what types of
materials will be included and how they are to be submitted, who may have access and
under what circumstances, what metadata and other standards will be used, and many
other such matters must be established and documented.
For the content management system to be of maximum benefit to the Ball State
community, a plan should be developed to identify and include, when permitted, digital
content from entities outside Ball State. This could be material of interest which other
institutions make freely available or resources and collections acquired or accessed
through partnerships with other universities, cultural heritage organizations, or
commercial firms. Inclusion of resources developed outside the University would give
faculty and students a central place to search and access needed materials.
Although many areas of campus will utilize the content management system and
contribute to its successful development, responsibility for overall administration will
need to be centralized in one area charged with coordinating all activities, functions, and
development, overseeing smooth and efficient operation, and assuring consistent
application of established policies, procedures, and standards. Given University
Libraries’ intrinsic role as a repository for information and its experience to date with
digital content management, University Libraries is the logical choice within Information
Technology to assign this responsibility.
Good training will be essential to the successful implementation and development of any
content management system intended for faculty and student use. A program,
customizable to different needs and skill levels, should be established to instruct
participants in system functions, policies, and procedures and to provide individual
assistance with special applications and projects. The program will need to be ongoing
not only to meet the needs of new first-time users but also to update user skills
periodically as the system and new digital technologies evolve.
Lastly, a support service should be developed to assist content developers with system
operations that they may be unable or unwilling to perform themselves. For example,
users may not be authorized to perform batch loading or exporting, or they simply may
not have the time to do it. Faculty may have valuable content they would like to share
but not the rich metadata that will enable other scholars to locate it easily. Assistance
with such operations as content submission or metadata creation may be the difference
between a robust digital repository with many active contributors and a repository that is
slow to attract new collections.
The list that follows describes suggested features of a digital content management
system, arranged under five major topics: digital content import, digital content search
and retrieval, user interface/display, security and rights management, and technical
aspects and maintenance.
Digital Content Import
1. Faculty/students or designated proxy can easily add, modify, save, and remove
A digital content management system designed for broad-based faculty and
student use must accommodate varying levels of technical expertise and diverse
functional needs and workflows. It must ensure ease of import for digital objects
and the ability to manipulate or remove them from the system as needed.
Recognizing that some content creators will not have the time, ability, or interest
in entering and managing their own collections, the system should also accept
submissions and modifications by designated proxies, such as department
secretaries, graduate assistants, librarians, archivists, or technical staff.
2. Ability to handle a variety of media types and file formats
Since the educational and research needs of the faculty and students will vary
widely, the types of digital content they produce also will be diverse. The content
management system must be suitable for a variety of different media types,
including text, still image (photographs, slides), maps, audio, video, and three-
dimensional objects. Consequently, it must be capable of handling a variety of
digital file formats, such as pdf, jpeg, tiff, gif, wav, mp3, avi, mpeg, and url.
Ideally, the system will also accommodate, through periodic software upgrades,
future file formats as they are developed.
3. Single item or batch import/export capability
To facilitate digital collection building, the system should allow objects to be
added manually, one-at-a-time, or in groups through automatic batch processing.
This flexibility will enable efficient processing of collections, whether they
consist of a few objects or a few thousand, completed at one point in time or
developed gradually over a period of time.
4. Adherence to a standards-based, metadata scheme (or schemas) that can be
customized to accommodate specific disciplines
The importance of adhering to standard metadata schemas, such as Dublin Core,
VRA, or EAD, in an institution-wide repository with many potential contributors
cannot be overemphasized. Without standardized metadata, discovery of digital
content may be impossible for all but a select few or may be, at best,
serendipitous. Use of nonstandard metadata systems may also limit the
effectiveness of metadata harvesters in providing information on the University’s
digital collections to researchers at other institutions. Nonstandard metadata, or
even standard metadata systems if too many are employed, can make system
administration more difficult. Ideally, a single, standards-based metadata schema
that can be modified to the needs of specific disciplines or collections will be
utilized. If multiple systems are used or if the content management system is to
integrate with other systems, such as the library catalog, the metadata schemas
must be compatible through crosswalks.
5. Customizable templates for metadata input
To facilitate metadata input, the content management system should provide
submission screens that prompt the user to supply data relevant to the specific
discipline/collection using terminology that is appropriate (e.g., author/title/date
of publication for a published text; instructor/course/semester and year for a
course web page; creator/name/place/medium/date for an artifact). To accomplish
this, the screen or template must be customizable as to name, number, and use of
fields. It should also require that information deemed essential be supplied prior
to successful submission.
6. Ability to handle multi-file deposits
The content management system should permit single submission of multifile
deposits, sometimes called compound digital objects. These are digital works
consisting of multiple files that together form the intellectual entity and are
intended to be used together. An example is an electronic dissertation consisting
of text (PDF), drawings or photographs (jpeg’s), and a video clip (avi). A series
of digital photographs (six jpeg’s) which together show a three-dimensional
artifact from top, bottom, and all four sides is another example. The system
should also store the objects in such a way that inherent relationships and
interactions are preserved. It is not enough, for example, to deposit the various
files that constitute an instructor’s course web page if the links that constitute the
page are not preserved.
7. Versioning/prototyping capability
Versioning would allow works in progress to be included in the content
management system, either by replacing the older version with the newest version
or by retaining all versions in a manner that makes clear the relationships between
the various manifestations of the work. Either way, versioning could be of great
assistance to faculty and students engaged in ongoing research or collaborative
endeavors across campus or across institutions. Similarly, prototyping would
enable students and faculty to construct and store reusable digital models for work
that reoccurs or is similar to previous projects. For example, a professor who
teaches the same course over time might retain a prototype of his/her course web
page so that he or she need only update the page the next time the course is
8. Automatic format conversion between product lines
To facilitate preservation of the digital object while saving operator time, it may
be desirable to have the system automatically convert from one format to another
(e.g. from Microsoft Word to PDF or HTML) upon submission.
9. Option for format conversion within product lines
Likewise, automatic conversion of files from older to newer versions of the same
software product (e.g., Microsoft Word 2000 to Word. 2003) would be useful.
Digital Content Search and Retrieval
1. Faculty/students can easily retrieve and display/play digital content
A content management system intended for faculty and student use should
facilitate successful discovery and retrieval by searchers who will possess varying
skill levels. Ideally, the system will interact with the computer’s browser to
launch automatically applications (such as Acrobat, Quicktime, Windows Media
Player) needed to view documents or play video or audio clips. The number and
names of metadata fields that display to the user should be customizable by
collection or discipline.
2. Powerful search engine that allows keyword and known text searches by
single collection or across multiple collections
The system’s search engine should be robust enough to support searching both by
natural language keywords and known text phrases employing standardized usage
(e.g., for personal, corporate, or geographic names) or controlled vocabularies
(e.g., Library of Congress Subject Headings, Art and Architecture Thesaurus). It
should support Boolean operators. The ideal system should be capable of
searching few or many metadata fields, as specified by the collection manager.
The system should also enable the user to limit searching to specific collections,
whether one or many.
3. Ability to search and retrieve items on campus or globally across institutions
Except where security limitations have been imposed, the system should permit
users to access other collections besides their own, whether all the unrestricted
collections in one department or college or throughout the institution. When
desirable, the system should also permit sharing of metadata and related files with
other systems, such as the institution’s library online catalog. Ideally, the system
will support federated searching of collections at partner institutions or of open
4. Ability to browse within collections/disciplines
A researcher unfamiliar with the content or simply wanting to get a broad
overview of a specific collection or discipline should be able to look through all
the items in the collection, one by one.
5. Like item searching
The system should permit retrieval of items in or across collections that have
some common characteristic. For example, the researcher may only be interested
in streaming audio clips, not text or video files, on his/her topic, or only black and
white photographs, not color.
1. Easy-to-use, web-based interface
Easy point-and-click access to resources, clear feedback, on-line help, orientation
of activities, and user control of the process are a few of the important
characteristics of the web-based interface. As a work environment for users, the
interface should be appropriate to the specific discipline, have all the needed
tools, and be enjoyable to navigate and to use. In addition, the user interface
should provide a navigation map to orient users and allow them to move easily to
other interesting resources in the map. The interface should provide clear
directions for search, access, and save.
2. Ability to create multiple personal collections in the asset management
system for later use
Many users will need to collect various digital objects for use in classroom
presentations or research projects. These personal collections may consist of one
type of material or of many types, such as text, graphic, animation, audio, and/or
video; they may be from one collection or several. It is important that the digital
assets management system provide users the opportunity to mark all distributed
pieces and collect them as a whole at the time of the instructional delivery and
presentation without limitation of time and place.
3. Options to display search results and digital objects in a variety of ways
It is helpful if the system gives users flexibility in the display of search results
through easily set and changeable preferences. For example, users may want to
see results displayed one at a time or together with other results, as thumbnail
images with accompanying metadata, or as metadata alone. For manuscripts,
documents in foreign language or different scripts, or audio files users may wish
to see transcriptions or translations along with the object itself. The user may
want to arrange results alphabetically, chronologically, or by type of media. The
ability to zoom and pan objects is also desirable.
4. Ability to customize templates
The system’s display interface should be adaptable to specific user needs and
purposes through template customization. Template customization should help
each user to select and edit templates, to change styles/colors, to add links, and to
create a unique looking web site that fits with the individual’s needs and tasks.
5. Good tutorials help screens and training before and during activities
Without limitation of time and place, on-demand and problem-based training is
essential if faculty and students are to use the assets management system with
ease and confidence. Likewise, on-line feedback with clear explanation and on-
line help screens are important for effective use of the system by users with
varying skill levels. Complete on-line tutorials should also be available to users.
6. Print and possible download options
Most accessed digital assets will be part of presentation, instructional, or research
content which users will need to save for later use or as a backup or combine with
other pieces to create larger projects. It is important that a user can save selected
assets to his/her hard drive, a central storage area, and/or to portable storage, such
as a Flash (USB) drive or a CD/DVD, and can access them later from classroom,
office, or dormitory. The system should also allow users to print paper copies if
Security and Rights Management
1. Sophisticated, multilevel security structure for authentication, access
control, protection of digital object integrity
The asset management system should provide the digital content owner with an
extensive multilevel protection system. The protection system should have a
series of tests and evaluations to determine the user’s eligibility to access
particular assets. In this protection system, the asset owner should have the
option to grant or restrict permission to others to display, print, save, and
manipulate the owner’s assets. When a faculty or student creates new digital
content and transfers it to the asset management system, the protection system
should award all protection options to the asset owner. Ideally the content
management system’s security structure will be compatible with security and
authentication systems already in place at the institution.
2. Faculty/student can restrict digital assets access to individual, group, or
The asset management system’s security structure should allow the digital content
owner, either directly or through the system administrator, to assign different
levels of access privileges to other users. Some possible access levels include
individual (only the content owner has access), group (two or more people, such
as students in a specific class, a dissertation committee, members of a particular
department), or world (universal access on the web).
3. Digital rights management component
Digital Rights Management (DRM) limits the use of digital assets in order to
protect the interests of copyright holders. Digital Rights Management should
protect digital assets for delivery and playback on a computer. There are three
approaches to protect digital assets: 1) encryption, so that the asset can only be
accessed by authorized users; 2) branding or watermarking, to signify that an
asset is copyright protected; and 3) stipulating terms and conditions for use. The
latter approach can take a number of forms, including free access and use without
permission, direct permission from the owner, subscription charge for usage, or
purchase and download.
4. Role-based delegation of privileges
The asset management system should support role-based delegation of privileges.
For example, some users may be able to display/play digital content, but not print
or download; others may be allowed to do all these functions. The system should
allow only the digital content owner or his/her designee to add, update, or remove
objects or assign privileges to a collection. Systemic additions or modifications
should only be possible at the systems administration level.
Technical Aspects and Maintenance
1. Vendor-developed system
The University has developed excellent in-house academic support software;
however the functional requirements for the content management system outlined
in this document are quite extensive. The system should be purchased from an
established vendor that specializes in this type of application software. Digital
asset management is a growing field that will require extensive long-term support.
2. Good documentation and technical support from the vendor
One important aspect of purchasing a content management system is to reduce the
support costs to the University. Good technical documentation for the operation
and maintenance of such a system is mandatory. It is expected that upgrades to
the content management system will be routine. Strong documentation and
planning will reduce the time needed by the technical support staff to implement
system updates. When system problems occur good technical documentation will
allow the technical support staff to isolate errors quickly and correct the problem
directly or convey problem details to the vendor technical support staff.
3. Sufficient infrastructure to support large files, rapid retrieval and display,
The system must have a high performance data retrieval infrastructure. A well-
designed content management product must accommodate high speed access to
numerous and large files in a single user request. High quality audio and video
digital assets can easily reach into the gigabyte range and high resolution
photographs/images in the megabyte range are common. Product evaluation must
ensure that the system will perform under “heavily loaded” conditions.
4. Support for persistent url’s
Ideally, the url assigned to a digital asset at the time it is added to the content
management system will remain associated with the digital file throughout its
lifetime; however, a linking methodology, such as CNRI Handles or PURLs,
needs to be in place to insure that links are not lost over time as files are moved
from one storage network to another. Without persistent url’s, objects may be
lost, leading to user frustration and lack of confidence in the system.
5. Interoperability at the system level
The system must be compatible with the University’s existing and planned data
processing infrastructure; fortunately, the University has a diverse data processing
infrastructure that is supported. Strong compatibility with existing operating
systems should increase system dependability and decrease implementation and
maintenance costs. Compatibility at the hardware level should also be considered
for cost reduction and dependability. However, if a foreign system is introduced,
implementation and maintenance cost should be carefully evaluated. Technical
support staff will need additional training; the learning curve for technical support
staff will need to be considered when developing an implementation timeline.
6. Interoperability with other user programs and systems
Digital assets are currently created with a wide variety of application software
programs and more programs will undoubtedly be added over time.
Interoperability with these application programs is important for the smooth
operation of the content management system. An author must be able to develop
materials with a variety of application programs and seamlessly integrate them
into the content management system.
7. Reliable system backup component
Since substantial digital assets potentially will be stored in this system, a
dependable backup process is an absolute requirement. The system must directly
or indirectly provide for at least two copies of backup media to be produced, one
copy being stored in a secure location away from the data center. Additionally,
the system should allow the user to backup his/her own digital content to a local
device; this would permit the user to transport digital assets to another site or
operate on a non-networked device.
8. Low overall system maintenance
A low level of required system maintenance should keep the operating overhead
at a minimum. The less time spent on routine system maintenance, the more time
will be available for system enhancements and performance tuning. Also, low
system maintenance requirements imply a well designed system.
9. Ability at the system level to purge inactive or little used objects and to
provide for long-term preservation of these objects if desired:
There is the potential for massive amounts of data to be stored in the content
management system. A simple and automatic method of removing inactive assets
is needed; otherwise storage requirements for the system will grow to an
unmanageable level. Optionally, purged assets could be moved to some form of
off-line storage for long term archiving.
10. System level tracking and usage logging capability
Evaluating system usage is necessary for performance tuning and cost
containment. The vendor will provide general operating parameters for the
system; however, we will want to “tune” the system for our distinctive needs.
The tracking of system usage levels can provide important information for
optimizing system performance. Tracking system usage levels can assist in
avoiding serious performance problems by allowing the adjustment of the system
before a condition becomes serious.
11. Potential for improvement with needs and changes in technology
Any content management product must clearly demonstrate the ability to
accommodate future advancements in technology. An evaluation of how a vendor
has handled recent technology advancements can be used as a guide to how well
the vendor is prepared to deal with future changes.
Higher education institutions are moving beyond the initial investment in tools and
infrastructure to find ways for effective utilization of technology in teaching, learning,
research, and business operations. The Environmental Scanning Committee assignments
illustrate the hallmark of what higher education can do beyond the initial investment in
infrastructure to deal with the key issues of the utilization of technology in education.
The Environmental Scanning team members were selected by their deans as the best
experts from academic units to help Information Technology in scanning and evaluating
the environment for recommendations on content development, delivery, storage, and
asset management. The valuable contributions of the committee members in evaluation,
assessment, research, and writing this report are greatly appreciated by Information
Technology. It was a great privilege to work with these seven faculty members from the
colleges and the three members from Information Technology units. Their hard work and
knowledge sharing will help Ball State University in effective utilization of technology in
education and will provide needed direction for successful integration of technology in
research, learning, and classroom instruction.