This policy describes the support provided by the office of Institutional Media Technologies for Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs) in classrooms, and meeting spaces.
Institutional Media Technologies, along with the Academic Divisions, have begun a gradual phase-out of support for VCRs, and expects to complete the phase-out at all IWU locations by the year 2020.
At the inception of the policy, Institutional Media Technologies has initiated a state of "Limited Support" of VCRs. In locations where they are installed, IMT will replace a VCR if it is defective, but no new locations will receive VCRs, and no replacement VCRs will be purchased. VCRs are also available for checkout at the Media Services desk.
Once complete, IWU will no longer support the use of VCRs in classrooms and meeting spaces.
All used VCRs will be sold through IWU-Mart or responsibly recycled.
Faculty and staff who have relied on VHS tapes as an instructional tool should look to other modern forms of digital media which are compatible with the new infrastructure. Suggestions include: DVD, BluRay and online streaming sources (e.g. Films On Demand).
What is included?
This policy affects all VCRs which are connected to digital video projectors or flat-panel displays, and which are located in classrooms and meeting spaces in any Residential or Non-Residential buildings.
This policy also applies to "Combo Decks," which are combined DVD players and Video Cassette Recorders.
When will it take place?
The phase-out will happen in sequence - one academic building at a time. As each building experiences a technology refresh of the video signal infrastructure, analog video cables (e.g. VGA, Composite, Component)--and with them, analog devices--will also be removed. Taking its place are digital devices, like Blu-Ray players, and computers and tablets that connect via HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI cables.
Why is this necessary?
Equipment. VCRs are no longer being widely manufactured and VHS tapes are not being produced. It has been a decade since commercial retailers began to phase-out VHS tapes.
Quality. The Medium is the message. Students often judge the quality of the content presented to them based upon the perceived quality of the delivery mechanism (i.e., a high-definition depiction [video, picture, sound, structure] is interpreted as having fundamentally greater significance than a standard-definition depiction). VHS tapes' quality looked fine when screen sizes and graphic resolutions were small. Larger screens with higher resolution render low resolution videos (i.e. VHS tapes) blurry, grainy, and difficult to watch.
Durability. Unlike digital files, the magnetic tape of a VHS cassette continues to deteriorate in quality with each playback, and while sitting on the shelf.
Industry Standards. Analog sunset and Digital sunrise: The digital infrastructure needed to allow new devices to connect to displays (TVs and projectors) is not backward compatible with analog VCR signals. Some systems still allow the displaying of analog content, but many are restricting the size of the image (not full screen), or blocking the image completely, as a form of Digital Rights Management (DRM). This is intended to protect content owners from having unauthorized copies of their materials created.
Availability. VCR's are no longer being produced. Many video recordings that were previously available on VHS have been re-mastered by the content owners and are now available in a higher quality DVD or BluRay disc. These discs are playable in all classroom teaching stations—which are now equipped with High-Definition displays. Other content owners have opted to distribute their video content online - through their own websites, through YouTube, or through streaming services such as Films On Demand. This policy coincides with the purging of VHS tapes from the Jackson Library.
02-Nov-2015 - Initial draft created.
University Information Technology
Individuals who own their own VCRs may attempt to connect them to the AUX Video jacks which are located on some teaching stations, and on some flat panel TVs.
There is no guarantee that this will work with the provided infrastructure, nor to any degree of quality, but in the locations where it is available, users are welcome to try to connect and display their analog devices.
There is no intention of adding the AUX Video jack to any meeting space that does not already have one.