It was just over a year ago that the COVID crisis meant teaching had to change to distance learning virtually overnight. That was the moment of truth for digital videos at TU Wien. Three powerful tools – GoToMeeting, ZOOM and MS Teams – were swiftly made available to engage with the students live. But what if you could not be there live yourself, perhaps because your little sister needs the only mobile device in the family for home schooling at the same time? You simply watch the uploaded "recording". But where is it?
In search of the recorded video...
Many members of the teaching staff recorded their online courses, or pre-produced them immediately, so that they were available to access, but there were drawbacks to distributing these videos. Neither TUWEL, opens an external URL in a new window nor TUownCloud, opens an external URL in a new window are designed for sharing large files efficiently – and we are talking about digital videos here. LectureTube and LectureTube live have been available at TU Wien for some time now, and were designed for video transmission from the lecture halls, but not for storage. A solution had to be conjured up quickly – or to put it another way – hammered out by the TU.it data centre: TUpeerTube.
TUpeerTube went online at https://tube1.it.tuwien.ac.at/, opens an external URL in a new window with two test videos on 17 March 2020, with the first "proper" explainer video, on how to use ZOOM, appearing the very next day. What started as a quick temporary fix has now become a remarkable success story. Over 5,300 videos have since been uploaded to TUpeerTube, and there are more than 400 registered video makers. The teaching staff have made most of the videos for their students, added to which are the explainer videos for the distance learning tools, and last but not least the .digital office channels, opens an external URL in a new window with their course recordings and the video tutorials for TU coLAB, opens an external URL in a new window. Some of the videos found on TUpeerTube are also quite funny … it's worth checking some of them out!
What is behind PeerTube?
PeerTube is regarded as an open source alternative to the major video platforms like YouTube: "A free piece of software to win back control of your videos" is the maxim. The vision is therefore not to have a central system that belongs to a corporation, but a network of many large and small PeerTube systems. It is possible to interconnect the PeerTube servers so they can distribute the whole range of videos together. Of course, there is plenty of potential in this for the academic sector, especially for open educational resources and scientific videos, as well as for students to network via videos.
Specialised alternatives are now on the way for the original purpose of TUpeerTube – uploading teaching videos. As part of a .dcall project, opens an external URL in a new window, the necessary new functions were added to LectureTube to make it possible to upload videos directly to TUWEL. You can read more about this in the next .dblog post. The focus of TUpeerTube should therefore shift towards new, collaborative digital video scenarios. Video channels for institutes, scientific presentations and, last but not least, videos made by students for students.
The lab of the future for potential digital video uses
In the same way as TU coLAB is a lab set up for digital collaboration, TUpeerTube is going to become the lab for new potential uses for digital video. Along with new content, the focus is on making videos easy to find and on flexible rights management. Every member of TU Wien who wants to be involved is invited. Information on how to get to your individual channel can be found at: https://colab.tuwien.ac.at/x/EwWQ, opens an external URL in a new window. The TU.it, opens an external URL in a new window team is currently working on a new overall strategy for all aspects of video at TU Wien, with the aim of offering a central solution for as many needs as possible and providing an infrastructure fit for the future. The results of the TUpeerTube "lab trials" will be incorporated into this new TU Wien video platform, which will be established by next year. We can hardly wait!