In 2017, SWITCH founded an advisory board for SWITCHcast together with representatives from six universities. The goal is to work together to further develop SWITCH’s video management system, so that it continues to be optimally tailored to customer needs in future. The board recently met for the second time to define concrete measures for expanding the service.
With the growing number of users and the increasing importance of video in universities, the range of needs is also increasing. In light of this, SWITCH decided to found an advisory body that reflected the structures of the community.
The SWITCHcast Advisory Board was officially established on 24 October 2017. The board members include Ulrich Bosshard from the University of Zurich, David Graf from the University of Bern, and Wolfgang Stettler from ZHAW; they are the representatives for SWITCHcast’s biggest customers. The board further comprises Katrin Wolf from the University of Teacher Education in Lucerne, Niklaus Lang from FHNW and Marco Antonini from the University of Lucerne, reflecting the three different forms of Swiss higher education.
The technical core of SWITCHcast is the open source software Opencast, which is being continually developed by an international community. SWITCH’s collaboration specialists are actively involved in the international Opencast Community: for example, with an active exchange of knowledge with colleagues from the University of Vienna and the Slovenian research network ARNES. SWITCH’s experts also take part in Opencast conferences and give lectures about their experiences with Opencast in the European university environment.
Sven Stauber, Head of the SWITCHcast Advisory Board, gave a detailed report on current operative and organisational topics at the second board meeting. The most important was the recent alignment of SWITCHcast with the Opencast Community version. ‘It was an extensive release, with a lot of changes in almost every area,’ said Stauber. However, this milestone brings considerable advantages that ultimately benefit the SWITCHcast community: lower costs due to increased standardisation, lower risk of regression bugs, and significantly increased synergies with the Opencast Community.
The most important part of the Advisory Board meeting was the joint prioritisation of submitted applications for new functionalities from the SWITCH Community. The Advisory Board members had collected user stories in advance and supplied around 50 of them to SWITCH. SWITCH prepared rough cost estimates for these user stories and developed a proposal for the prioritisation on this basis. This served as a starting point for the discussion.
The most urgent issue appeared to the panel to be optimisation in video editing and video processing, permissions and API enhancement. An external software development company will now implement these adjustments by summer, based on the specifications from the Advisory Board. They will come into effect in August 2018 with the next release.
SWITCH is also counting on its community for SWITCHcast’s support. For the third quarter of 2018, it is planned that IT experts in the universities should be the first point of contact for users. The SWITCH collaboration team, together with all the universities, is currently defining the points of contact who will take on this new role from autumn onwards. SWITCH will provide the necessary training for these key contacts at the universities and will equip them with documentation. Of course, the experts at SWITCH will continue to be available for complex issues.
At SWITCH, community work has a long tradition. The formation of the SWITCHcast Advisory Board is in the same vein, because it is based on the conviction that close cooperation between SWITCH and its customers best benefits the further development of the service – which ultimately benefits the entire university community.