• Academic Technology

3 Reasons Content Hygiene is Essential to a Healthy Learning Ecosystem

As virtual, hybrid, and asynchronous learning continues to expand, universities and other higher education institutions are creating and storing more video content than ever. Administrators create presentations for meetings, professors record new lectures and course materials, and students upload videos for class assignments and extracurricular activities. This volume of video quickly adds up, creating a vast library within your LMS or video management system filled with obsolete content.

Preserving irrelevant or outdated videos isn’t just a logistical challenge that clutters your learning ecosystem. It also creates genuine risks for your university while imposing extra storage costs that needlessly drain your budget. 

To ensure a consistent, relevant, and high-quality student experience, instructional technologists and administrators must adopt a smart content hygiene strategy that archives and deletes unwatched or irrelevant videos.

What is content hygiene?

In general terms, content hygiene refers to the process of evaluating the content on a website or platform to ensure that it’s relevant, updated, and useful. The idea is simple: Just like physical clutter can impinge on the comfort and practicality of a home or workplace, digital clutter can detract from the usefulness of an online space. 

In the context of a higher education institution with a vast video lecture library, content hygiene involves establishing a content retention policy that hides, archives or deletes older videos that no longer serve their original purpose. Your university’s library probably includes thousands of videos that haven’t been watched in years – class materials that have since been replaced, video presentations from students who have graduated, and tutorials about policies that no longer exist. You’ll create a more functional video library by ditching the digital dead weight. 

3 reasons universities should establish a video content retention policy

Content hygiene is about more than mere tidiness. Yes, purging your library of excess videos will make the entire digital space feel cleaner, but it also comes with significant educational, legal, and financial benefits. Practicing content hygiene by implementing and sustaining a video content retention policy is an institutional best practice in today’s digital learning environment.

1. Enforce the rigorous quality standards your students and faculty expect

Just as you wouldn’t keep a years-old syllabus or a textbook with outdated information, all video lectures and recorded courses should meet the same rigorous accuracy, relevance, and quality standards of your institution. 

Unlike static course materials, a key benefit of video lectures and recorded courses is the ability to quickly edit and update material as information changes. Preserving outdated videos defeats the flexibility of the medium and puts the burden on professors and administrators to manage this obsolete content.

A content retention policy makes the lives of faculty and staff easier by reducing time and effort spent navigating outdated files and improving the overall quality of an institution’s lecture library.

2. Responsibly and transparently reduce risks posed by outdated materials

Obsolete data creates both educational and legal risks for institutions. Imagine a student happening upon an old lecture or outdated video explaining a university policy that has since changed. This student could make irreparable mistakes based on inaccurate information that was left within your LMS or video management system.

Moreover, preserving old content heightens potential legal risks and complexities for your institution. Requests for information, whether from a lawsuit or a FOIA request, require universities to dig through their digital archives to surface data that they may not even realize they have. 

A clearly defined content retention policy ensures that institutions are responsibly maintaining relevant records with transparent guidelines that mitigate legal risks.

3. Optimize budget in the face of increasing cloud storage costs

It’s no secret that the cost of securing and scaling cloud storage is on the rise. In a world where every saved video comes with a price, there’s no sense in paying to store outdated content. 

The “keep everything forever” approach is unsustainable for the budget-savvy administrator or technologist. Rather than paying rent for thousands of unwatched videos, a policy that outlines content retention steps and best practices helps you reduce unnecessary spending while ensuring essential content is always available. 

Refrigerate vs. Freeze:
Using archival storage for optimal video management

Now that you understand the value of content hygiene, where do you start? 

Cleaning up your content library and deleting thousands of old videos might sound like an intimidating undertaking – but it doesn’t have to be. With the right policies in place, you can create systems that automatically archive or delete unwatched videos while protecting the materials that faculty and administrators value. 

The best content hygiene strategies are flexible by design, giving administrators and professors the agency to make their own decisions about the videos under their purview. Many institutions provide this essential flexibility by implementing an archival storage policy that divides your content into “storage” and “archive” categories. 

  • The “storage” category captures relevant, updated, frequently watched videos like those in your LMS, CMS, blog, or wiki for easy, instant access. Think of this as your refrigerator of everyday essentials like eggs or bread. 
  • The “archive” category preserves important videos that you might not need every day or even every semester. Think of this as your freezer, where you can defrost leftovers from time to time. Videos are still readily available but may take several more minutes to retrieve. Archiving helps free up space in your content refrigerator, ensuring that primary storage is always accurate and fresh.

Archival storage gives faculty and administration a way to remove videos from the general library without deleting them altogether. It also works well with automated systems that archive and delete data on their own. When unviewed videos are sent automatically into archival storage, people will have a chance to notice their absence from the primary storage library and retrieve them before they’re deleted. This tiered approach prevents mishaps and increases support for content hygiene as a practice within the university. 

How to implement an effective content retention strategy

Content hygiene doesn’t take place in a silo. As technologists and administrators, be sure to communicate with primary stakeholders to develop a methodology that everyone can support in order to help your university mitigate risks, save money, and better serve the student body. By adopting a set of best practices around implementation, you can build a culture of content hygiene that benefits your entire institution. 

Ready to get started? Discover How to Implement an Effective Content Retention Strategy at Your University