research axes from project proposal

This project focuses on different research axes described through the different work packages.
WP 1: Consolidation with LMS and academic systems
The primary usage of recorded lectures is to support the teaching and learning process in various ways. This, however, calls for a close integration with established technologies in e-learning, notably Learning Management Systems (LMS). Here, coordination and communication between lecturer and students takes place, just like the actual learning. For recorded lectures to become part of this process, a neat integration into the LMS is needed. In addition, the IT infrastructure of academic institutions such as course catalogues (syllabus) features a variety of information necessary or beneficial to the management of lecture recording: Course enrolment can authorize students to view recordings, their study programme could influence their search patterns etc. The aim is to understand the importance of these and to analyze ways of integrating them with existing solutions for the management of audiovisual content.
WP 2: Accessibility / Authentication / Authorization
In the process of being recorded and made available either publically, or in a technically restricted way, a mere lecture becomes an object of legislations and different laws. With copyright conflicting with the use of third-party material in presentations, the grey area of “academic use”, “the right to quote” and “open access” unfolds with institutions not having the guidelines, know-how or resources to navigate safely through it. Also, the legal status of a recording between institutions (e.g. universities), client (e.g. institute), and the person being recorded (e.g. lecturer, guest speaker) is unclear, with or without a contract being signed in advance.
To clarify matters, institutions have to describe the relevant conditions of recording lectures, conferences or producing other audiovisual objects for a legal opinion to be obtained from a legal expert; here, a coordinated effort will be possible with the DICE project.
In this context, SWITCHaai offers a excellent authentication and authorization infrastructure, but it is limited to web technologies (http). Downloadable videos are undesired for protected content. Streaming technologies (rtmp/rtsp) are often the preferred alternative. However, current streaming protocols don’t offer a standardized single sign-on methods to protect access. Moreover, access should be able to be restricted to a limited number of user (group) and for a defined time window.
WP 3: Metadata Scheme
Exchange and proliferation must be long-term goals for (almost) any production of audiovisual material. From a users’ perspective, the main problem is searchability: With most videos not being indexed yet, and even with this functionality being implemented, metadata play an important role in increasing accessibility and search efficiency. Producers and managers of audiovisual content therefore have to take care of metadata allocation, be that in an automatic, manual, or a combined process. The prerequisite for the usefulness of this metadata, however, is a standardized and shared metadata scheme for institutions to share.
There are, and that is part of the problem, a number of metadata sets and technologies beginning to emerge, either as “traditional” metadata following the Dublin Core scheme, isochronic or dynamic metadata within MPEG-7 or - in a more technical perspective - RSS-oriented techniques to deliver metadata. However, no definition of metadata has yet achieved the status of a standard accepted at least within the academic community.
Searching specific information in the ever growing audiovisual corpus became a labour and time consuming task. Nowadays the use of metadata (useful for the content management), enhanced the search activities in term of accessibility and efficiency. Standardization is a requirement for exploitation of audiovisual content, as it avoids users from being locked into proprietary systems. It is important to realise that a standard does not require a particular implementation. Rather, as a common specification, it establishes an opportunity for collaboration from different institutes and organisations and helps in establishing a long term infrastructure.
Some existing metadata standards such as Dublin Core or MPEG7 provide mostly administrative information about object. Some of their properties may express what the document is about (title, description, subject, etc.) still, having no control or restriction on the keywords being used adds a supplementary issue in searching audiovisual content. Moreover in the area of e-learning there is a lack of standards, which defines an overall container format. Such a standard would assure import/export interoperability between the different systems and increase the compatibility to LMS packages like SCORM or IMS-CP.
WP4: Archival strategies / Handling and persistent identification of objects
Archiving rich media content raises a number of unresolved issues. The huge amount of video data collected over the years on the different infrastructures currently used by the Swiss universities brings new challenges to current storage and backup technologies. Applying compression, while trying to keep information loss small, forces to compromises, which may be considered today acceptable, but which could result in future as inappropriate. As codecs evolves very fast, backward compatibility is not assured over the years. Best practice guides about file formats and general preservation practices would overcome the currently poor available expertise in this field and minimize the risk of unsuitable archival strategies. Borrowed from the library domain, long-term accessibility through persistent identification of objects represents an example of good practice. Indeed, today’s procedures (URL) will not stand the test of time and alternative methods based on persistent identification (URN, DOI) have to be proposed.
WP 5: Interoperability, import and export technologies
Rich media content typically consist of several single objects, which are grouped together to one presentation. Typical core elements are audio, video and in many cases content (i.e. VGA-capture), either bundled or stored separately. Additional information come from different backgrounds:
(1) Technical information about the creation of content (how was it recorded?), its processing (encoding information), its storage (cf. WP 4) and accessibility (cf. WP 2)
(2) Additional content: Attached material like the actual presentation, literature and scripts related to the object
(3) Metadata: Schemes to describe objects as a whole (e.g. Dublin Core) or over time (MPEG-7) – cf. with WP 3
While standards and recommendations exists for each of these components individually, there is no solution for an overall container format or the combined handling of the individual components. Such a solution would assure interoperability between the different repositories in Switzerland – and is the prerequisite to an exchange of objects.
"This project has been carried out as part of the "AAA/SWITCH - e-infrastructure for e-science" programme under the leadership of SWITCH, the Swiss National Research and Education Network, and has been supported by funds from the ETH Board, the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) and the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology (OPET)."