CIT to phase out VHS players in classrooms due to obsolescence

Computing & Information Technology announced on Tuesday Nov. 28 that the office would no longer support faculty use of VHS tapes, starting in the fall 2018 semester. CIT encourages professors to shift to formats that are easier to use. 

Currently, as many as 140 classrooms on campus have dual VHS and DVD players, according to Assistant Director and Manager for Educational Technology Laurie Fox. By the fall 2018 semester, CIT will close off the VHS component of these players and encourage faculty members to use DVDs or streaming services like YouTube.

“As the VHS players break, we’re not able replace or repair them,” Fox said. “Our goal was to give faculty enough time to find alternate course materials and we’ve been working on this with faculty for many years, so most faculty have already updated their collections to be DVDs or streaming services. Those who still have a [VHS] collection will have about nine months to convert.”

The process to phase out VHS players has been planned for several years, according to Fox. The library and educational technologies department have worked with professors to convert VHS tapes to DVDs and to find different sources for the medium, either online or in a usable format, Fox said. 

Some professors who use VHS players find the policy change irritating, but understandable. Assistant professor in the Ella Cline Shear School of Education and Learning Independence, Vocational and Educational Skills Program Project Coordinator Elizabeth Hall said she has used video-taped interviews from the 1990s in her classes for decades, which will create difficulties when switching to digital media formats. 

“I can see the logic behind it, but it’s inconvenient,” Hall said. “For old-school professors who have large VHS collections, it’s going to be inconvenient to take the time to convert them all to some other file.” 

Although the library has services to change videotapes into more usable styles, Hall has encountered some challenges throughout the process of converting tapes. To change the format, professors must wait with the tape as it transfers. If a tape, for example, is of a three-hour-long interview, the professor would have to stay in library for the full three hours, according to Hall. As the college has moved to eliminate VHS use, other professors have expressed some concerns to CIT, according to Fox. 

The replacement of VHS players is part of a gradual process that will likely end the use of DVDs sometime in the future, according to Fox. 

“Eventually DVD players will be obsolete … many people don’t ever use DVDs,” Fox said. “I don’t see an announcement coming in the next couple years about phasing out DVDs, but that eventually will happen too, just as with cassette tapes and that kind of stuff.”u