By Justin Pack—
Tarleton soon will be rolling out a TV channel called TexanCast, which will enable the university to display content created by employees and students.
This content will be viewed across campus on televisions in dorms, common areas and on digital signage. This service sets itself apart from other current campus advertising because of its ability to display student-generated content.
Shelly Conboy-Brown, the associate director for Tarleton’s Department of Residential Living and Learning, said TexanCast is intended to “provide a channel that students, faculty and staff can submit content to, to be viewed in the residence halls and in public spaces.” Conboy-Brown said the system was purchased because “we needed a platform that university content can be displayed on in a way students are interested in” and that, overall “the objective for the channel is to increase communication.”
TexanCast will operate on a system called OrcaTV, which manages the submission, curation, and scheduling of user-submitted content. Rajiv Shenoy, the CEO of OrcaTV, started this company when he saw that mass messaging on college campuses could often be fragmented and disorganized between different media technologies. His company seeks to consolidate disparate campus messaging technologies into one solution.
TexanCast will capitalize on what Shenoy calls “the celebrity effect” — students like seeing themselves and their friends on TV. Shenoy also said, “It’s like seeing yourself on the Jumbotron at a sporting event.” He believes that this feeling is what motivates students to constantly produce content. He also believes that allowing students to have a voice in campus messaging fosters “a feeling of ownership—that this is our campus and our culture.”
Another positive effect of having students involved in campus messaging is what Shenoy refers to as the “broccoli and cake.” Administration-generated content, such as information on class drop dates and financial aid, represents the broccoli. The student-generated content represents the cake.
Shenoy said the hope is “students come for the cake and get some broccoli in the process.”
For content to be shown on TexanCast, it must be submitted online where the university’s guidelines for acceptable content will be posted. Conboy-Brown said submitted content “will then need to go through a review process prior to posting,” which will ensure that it meets the university’s guidelines before it is allowed to be publicly displayed. Conboy-Brown said, in regards to this review process, that “the idea is not to stifle student work or student creativity but to provide a professional image.”
Before anyone at Tarleton views potential content, it first is processed by OrcaTV.
Shenoy said his company acts as “the first line of defense” against inappropriate content and that “a person at Orca looks at every piece of content” to ensure that they meet the university’s guidelines.
Content submitted in text format will be compared to a list of 486 prohibited words. These range from words for bodily fluids and functions to racial slurs and other derogatory terms, all with many variations in spellings.
After submitted content is cleared by OrcaTV, it will be routed to the appropriate department within Tarleton for a second round of approval. If the content passes this step, it will then be placed into the broadcast schedule.
If content is flagged for any reason during this process “it will be routed back to the submitter where they will have the opportunity to edit it and submit it again,” said Conboy-Brown.
Furthermore, Shenoy said they will “try to be transparent” when it comes to flagging content.
As part of the preparation to release the system, it went through a branding process where the name TexanCast was chosen. Some students were asked for input to build a list of potential names that was submitted to a committee and then to the university executive team.
Conboy-Brown said, “We branded the system to be able to better engage students and staff. We really want to drive student submissions.” She also said they “want to ensure that students are engaged in submitting content.”
The rollout for TexanCast is still in process Conboy-Brown said, “We estimate it will be in place for the fall semester.”