1. Introduction

The information on this page needs updating.

This document looks at the steps involved in delivering a podcast. It also explains how to receive a podcast.

A podcast is a file that has been made available on the web which can automatically be downloaded to a software player, such as Apple's iTunes, and then perhaps moved to a portable device such as an MP3 player. You might use a podcast to record a talk, to record an interview with a visitor, to record supporting material for a lecture, ... .

A podcast is usually a multimedia file such as an MP3 audio file or a video file, although it can be a text document such as a PDF.

The term podcast was derived in 2004 from the words iPod and broadcast, but you do not have to have an iPod to listen/watch these files. Anyone with appropriate software on a computer will be able to listen/watch a podcast. And, if the file is an MP3 file, you could copy the file to an MP3 player.

2. The steps you need to take to deliver a podcast and receive it

There are four steps to delivering a podcast and receiving it:
  1. creating a recording;
  2. uploading your recording;
  3. adding details about your podcast to a newsfeed;
  4. receiving the podcast.

3. Step 1: creating a recording

By some means you need to create a recording.

One possibility is to record to a PDA, an MP3 player that has a microphone or an iPod with an attached microphone adapter.

If you have iTunes, you can use iTunes to convert the recording to the MP3 format. iTunes is available for Mac OS X and Windows.

Instead, you may want to consider using Audacity. This is an audio editor and recorder that is available for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. It can be used to make recordings, edit an existing recording (e.g., to remove any unwanted sections at the start and the end), or to convert a recording to MP3.

4. Step 2: uploading your recording

You now have a recording stored in a file. This now needs to be uploaded to a web server. You have a number of choices depending on where you work.
  • If you have a web server in your department/college, you may already have space on this web server and know how to upload files to it. In order for people to be able to receive your podcast, it is important for this web server to be visible through the University's filewall. By this means you have published the recording on the web and it is available through some URL like http://dept.ox.ac.uk/first.mp3
  • You could upload your podcast to a public folder within a WebLearn site in which you have the 'maintain' role. If you do not have a suitable WebLearn site then ask your local WebLearn coordinator to create one for you; please see the list of coordinators.

    If you already have a suitable WebLearn site (in which you have the 'maintain' role), then log into WebLearn (http://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/) and create a public folder within the Resources tool in your site and upload your podcasts into it. (Details of how to create a public folder and upload files can be found in this step-by-step guide: https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/access/content/group/info/step/resources11.pdf)

    It is important to make the folder public so that others may access it. The above guide also shows how to find the WebLearn URL of the uploaded item so that you can use it in OXITEMS.

  • Or you could store the file on the web server users.ox.ac.uk. There are details about this web server at /web/personalwebpages/personalguide.xml. In particular, there is a section about uploading a file to users.ox.ac.uk. By doing this you will have published the recording on the web and it will be available at a URL like http://users.ox.ac.uk/~abcd0123/example.mp3 (this URL will be used as an example throughout the rest of the document).

5. Step 3: adding details about your podcast to a newsfeed

The final stage in publishing your podcast is to make it available through an RSS 2.0 newsfeed.

You can do this using OXITEMS, the University of Oxford's newsfeed system. It provides several kinds of newsfeeds: there are ordinary newsfeeds for items of news, events newsfeeds for storing details about events, and podcasting newsfeeds for storing details about a collection of podcasts.

There are two steps:
  1. create a podcasting newsfeed;
  2. add an item containing details of your podcast to this newsfeed.

In each department/college, there are IT Support Staff. The main ITSS person has been made an OXITEMS administrator. He/she can create a podcasting newsfeed. If you have difficulty in tracking down who this is, please send a message to webmaster@oucs.ox.ac.uk

The OXITEMS administrator can make you an author of this newsfeed. Once this has been done, you are then in a position to add your podcast to the newsfeed.

To add a podcast to an OXITEMS newsfeed:
  1. First, login to OXITEMS at https://rss.oucs.ox.ac.uk/oxonly/oxitems/
  2. Then use the Add a media item operation that is given in the menu on the left-hand side of the screen.
  3. The administrator will have given the newsfeed some appropriate name such as running/sandbox-audio. So, on the new screen, select the appropriate newsfeed, e.g., running/sandbox-audio.
  4. Then use the button labelled add an item to the selected newsfeed.
  5. On the new screen, type something appropriate to identify the podcast in the Title and Summary boxes.
  6. In the box labelled Presenter(s), type the details of the people who gave the presentation in the podcast.
  7. In the box labelled Media file, type in the URL of your podcast, e.g., http://users.ox.ac.uk/~abcd0123/example.mp3
  8. It is important that you have the right to make the recording public. Click the Media rights to confirm that you have the appropriate permissions.
  9. Finally, if you wish, type some categories in the Simple categories box. With some applications that access newsfeeds, a user can categories to search for items. An example is iTunes.
  10. Then use the button labelled preview the item with the above values.
  11. And, on the next screen, use the button labelled now add the above item to the newsfeed.

And that's it. An RSS 2.0 version of your newsfeed is now available at a URL like http://rss.oucs.ox.ac.uk/running/sandbox-audio/rss20.xml where running/sandbox-audio is replaced by the name of your newsfeed.

If you want to add other podcasts to this newsfeed, just repeat the above process: go to OXITEMS and select the Add a media item operation.

6. Step 4: receiving the podcast

You will need some podcasting software (such as iTunes) in order to receive a podcast.

Having installed the podcasting software, you just have to tell it the URL of the newsfeed. It has to be an RSS 2.0 newsfeed. When using OXITEMS, this is a URL like http://rss.oucs.ox.ac.uk/running/sandbox-audio/rss20.xml where running/sandbox-audio is replaced by the name of your newsfeed.

You can then tell the software to download your podcast.

You can then listen/watch the recording on your computer. If you have an iPod, you may want to sync the file to your iPod. Otherwise, you could copy the file to an MP3 player.