• Academic Technology

How to Implement an Effective Content Retention Strategy

As universities expand their video learning libraries, content hygiene – hiding, archiving or deleting outdated lectures, meetings, and other video content – has become a best practice for higher education institutions. 

You’re likely familiar with why content hygiene is essential to a healthy learning ecosystem: Superfluous videos burden your LMS and video management system with obsolete content that hinders the student experience, opens your institution up to legal risks, and hamstrings your budget as the cost of cloud storage continues to increase. Developing a sensible video content retention policy allows you to eliminate this excess baggage, reduce costs, and support better learning experience and outcomes. 

So how do you get started?

Improving your institution’s content hygiene doesn’t require manually archiving or deleting thousands of files – there are automated programs that can take care of that for you. What it does require is the strategic implementation of a thoughtful policy. Deletion can sound scary, and faculty members used to the status quo might be hesitant to get on board. Yet by bringing stakeholders into the conversation, taking their considerations into account, and communicating the value of content hygiene across your institution, you can develop a robust policy that effectively serves your entire educational community. 

1. Identify, listen to, and educate key stakeholders

Developing an effective content retention policy is a collaborative process. For successful implementation, technologists and administrators must get buy-in from key stakeholders on the merits of the plan – especially when operating within the complex bureaucracy of many higher education institutions. Simply saying, “We’re going to archive or delete old content,” will cause panic and resistance. Communication is the key to winning executive and faculty support.

First, identify which stakeholders impact content retention at your institution. This might include your leadership team, IT, security and policy, the registrar, and university and faculty governance groups, among others.

Next, clearly explain the goals of your content hygiene initiative, what problems it will solve, and how it will benefit the university. Come equipped with data to support your ideas. For example, faculty members might find emotional comfort in the “safety net” of having access to all legacy video content. By sharing data that proves how rarely people access such content and the legal and financial costs to the university, you can begin to shift mindsets. Presenting stakeholders with an easily digestible narrative that they can discuss among themselves will help get public opinion on your side. 

Lastly, open the floor for feedback and dialogue. This is an opportunity for you to understand your stakeholders’ challenges and apprehensions around content management and incorporate ways to address them in your plan.

2. Develop a content retention strategy that empowers all stakeholders

A new content retention policy shouldn’t produce winners and losers – everyone at the university should benefit from the change. Your content retention strategy and implementation plan should not only meet the needs of all stakeholders, but empower them with agency over elements of the content management experience.

One way to give stakeholders more control is through content retention tools. Manually hiding, archiving, or deleting individual files is impossible to scale, which means you’ll have to use a retention tool to bulk-manage your content. Many such tools are flexible, allowing you to set distinct archiving and deletion policies for different departments and accommodate unique circumstances. While this flexibility is certainly a virtue, you don’t want your models to be too complex. The objective is to give people room to maneuver without trapping them in a labyrinth of confusing policies. The right solution will look different for each institution. 

You also need administrators, professors, and students to have an easy way to hide or archive materials that they don’t want deleted. Nobody enjoys feeling like they’ve lost control over their work. By creating archive folders that remain outside the deletion policy, you’ll give everyone a safe place to stash the content they’re sure they want to protect. 

3. Prepare faculty, administrators, and students for upcoming changes

Once you’ve received permission to implement a new policy, make sure everyone at your university is ready for the change. Surprising faculty with the unexpected deletion of old material could cause confusion and resentment. By addressing the issue with tact and clarity, you can prepare the entire organization for a seamless transition. 

Create a communication plan addressing all stakeholders impacted by the upcoming changes, as well as your student body. This plan might include detailed newsletters explaining exactly what will be archived or deleted, adding the new policy to training materials, and creating banners on your LMS, video management system, and other educational ecosystem tools in the weeks before the change. This comprehensive campaign will ensure that everybody is well prepared and can modify their workflows as necessary. 

4. Implement new policies strategically and provide continued support

Universities are complex institutions, and you need to launch the new policy in a way that minimizes trouble for everyone involved. Attention to detail is necessary to keep your new policy aligned with other rules and regulations. Your university likely has internal policies regarding data storage and intellectual property, all of which need reviewing before any changes take effect. Timing is another issue to consider – an initial launch might prove less disruptive if it occurs during a vacation or period between semesters, for example. 

Communication doesn’t end after launch, either. Provide support along the way as stakeholders get used to the new way of managing content. Share updates across your institution on a quarterly or semester cadence to demonstrate the progress and value of your new policy and troubleshoot issues for those still getting up to speed.

Content Hygiene: Supporting better teaching and learning experiences 

With the right approach, a content retention policy will not only strengthen your video learning library but empower your faculty and students, creating a unified understanding of content hygiene best practices that contribute to better teaching and learning experiences across your institution. 

Related Reading: 3 Reasons Content Hygiene is Essential to a Healthy Learning Ecosystem