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Wolverines in the know

One of the country's leading public universities, the University of Michigan, is creating "the classroom of the near future," in which students and faculty can access audio, video, animation and other rich media as easily as they can use traditional text.

The goal of the project--called DAMS (Digital Asset Management System)--is to make the university's huge collection of digital resources more readily available, according to a recent press release. Faculty and students will be able to find, customize and edit those media assets from the desktop.

"We believe that the university endeavor of teaching, learning and research must embrace video, audio, simulations and other rich digital media in the same way that it has historically utilized text and still images," says James Hilton, associate provost for Academic, Information and Instructional Technology Affairs. "The project is designed to examine solutions for issues particular to academe, and serve as a model for higher education institutions worldwide.

"While digital asset management systems exit in corporate settings, the academic enterprise presents an environment that is far more complex in terms of the range of assets, the diversity of users and intellectual property rights."

Several projects are already underway. The School of Dentistry, for example, is making video demonstrations of dental procedures available online, and the School of Business is creating online video modules of senior faculty delivering lectures on core concepts.

The University of Michigan DAMS project uses IBM's DB2 Content Management technology as the central repository and other software including a solution from IBM business partner Ancept, which was acquired in August by Stellent. The system focuses on access, manipulation and control of video, audio, images and other digital content in a learning environment.

The DAMS project includes the following key components:

  • Asset management—A storage and retrieval system, based on middleware software from DB2 Content Management and Ancept, will allow users to ingest digital assets, perform searches, preview assets and retrieve them.
  • User access—The Ancept Media Server will provide an open interface for direct interaction with rich media creation, categorization and edit tools.
  • Asset storage—IBM Tivoli Storage Manager will handle the storage of digital content, ensuring that assets are stored on the lowest cost medium and according to university storage policy and procedures.

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