1. Podcasting Overview

A podcast is a series of related audio or video files, placed online with a public URL and linked to via an RSS feed, accessed by free download subscription over the internet using digital media players.

Creating your own podcast is a straight-forward process but does rely on you having the right equipment and software available first. The workflow you need to follow is outlined below. The free Steeple Podcasting Booklet offers more detailed information and guidance. Also see the later sections Record and Publish.

The following guidance document contains the contribution form that you will be required to sign if you wish to publish your material on the University's podcasting web portal or iTunes U site: http://www.ox.ac.uk/itunes_u/contribute.html

We always recommend the following short training session for anyone involved in podcasting at Oxford: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TIMV

Step 1: Familiarise yourself with podcasting guidance notes and contribution form

If you are a member of staff at the University of Oxford and wish to discuss how you can contribute a podcast from your department, college, or faculty, then please contact podcasts@it.ox.ac.uk. You can do your own recording or use the University's media team to professionally record for you. Any podcast made available through the iTunes portal for the University of Oxford has to have a signed contributor form and will also be vetted to make sure it adheres to our legal obligations concerning copyrighted material, etc.

The following guidance document contains the contribution form that you will be required to sign if you wish to publish your material on the University's podcasting web portal or iTunes U site: http://www.ox.ac.uk/itunes_u/contribute.html

The Steeple Podcasting Booklet also contains a section about Copyright and permissions

We always recommend the following short training session for anyone involved in podcasting at Oxford: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TIMV

Step 2: Create the content
Podcast media are not special files. Any traditional MP3 audio file or MPEG4 video file (two of the most common multimedia formats) can be used as a podcast.

Simply record your lecture, keynote speech or other content in a digital format and save it to a computer. You may need to trim the file in editing software such as the free software Audacity. More information in the Recording Requirements section and for professional help see Making Audio and Video.

We always recommend the following short training session for anyone involved in podcasting at Oxford: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TIMV

Step 3: Place the content online
Before a podcast can be downloaded it must be accessible via the internet. As long as you place your multimedia file on publicly accessible web space it can become a podcast.

More information is available in the Publishing a podcast section.

Step 4: Catalogue and publish your podcasts with MediaPub
MediaPub catalogues your media and creates RSS newsfeeds for the University media portals. Many colleges, departments and faculties already have multiple newsfeeds available. A podcast RSS feed is a normal RSS feed with one key exception; it includes the web address of a multimedia file and some basic information about this podcast.

More information about MediaPub and how to use it with podcasts can be found in the section on MediaPub RSS system.

2. Recording Requirements

To create a podcast the following are necessary:

  • A relatively modern computer with speakers, and internet connection.
  • A microphone. Some computers have a in-built mic, but a more expensive external mic will create better quality audio recordings.
  • Digital recording software (such as Audacity) to create the audio files. However, there are software packages (such as ProfCast on the Apple Mac) designed specifically for audio and video podcasting that may now be more suitable.

Audio podcasts (usually MP3s) are easier to create and the filesize is more manageable for upload and download, but nevertheless it is now simple to create video podcasts using podcasting software. In addition to the requirements above, video needs:

  • A video camera. This can be a simple USB webcam or a more expensive digital video camera connected to the computer.

It is possible to record audio podcasts into portable media players (such as an iPod with a mic attachment) but the quality is not necessarily high and this requires the extra step of transferring the audio file from the media player to the computer.

The Steeple Podcasting Booklet contains more information in its Recording a podcast section.

We always recommend the following short training session for anyone involved in podcasting at Oxford: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TIMV

2.1. Possible Hardware Options

There are many means of recording audio and video for podcasts, with varying levels of expensive and complexity.

By far the simplest method is to record directly into a computer using it's own internal mic, but the audio quality will not be exceptional and the mic is likely to pick up background noise (from the computer's fan, for example). Using an external microphone produces a cleaner signal.

Regardless of the means by which podcasts are recorded, to publish them it is usually required to transfer the recording from the recording device to a computer with access to the internet. In general, the fewer steps required to generate the final podcast file on a computer, the better.

Other options for recording include:

  • An iPod, with Apple's proprietary mic attachment plugged into the top. There are different microphone products with varying performance, some examples can be seen here: http://www.welovemacs.com/ipmire.html
  • A portable recorder, such as a Marantz PMD 661 Solid State MP3 Recorder, can be a relatively inexpensive and yet high quality option for audio recording. Many of these portable recorders make use of SD cards and other modern storage cards.
  • Expensive external USB (not analogue) microphones (such as a Samson CO1U USB mic) can be plugged directly into a computer and provide very high quality audio recordings. Additional attachments to isolate background noise can increase the quality.
  • Digital video cameras can be used for audio and video input for use in podcasts, and these can record onto DV tape (which would then have to be transferred to the computer using a separate piece of hardware) or can be plugged directly into a computer (commonly via FireWire). These usually provide high-quality audio and video recordings.

The Steeple Podcasting Booklet contains more information in its Baseline audio kit section.

2.2. List of Recording Software

Simple and free

Advanced

Information about sound editing is available in the Steeple Podcasting Booklet, sections Introduction to editing and Audacity training.

3. Publishing a podcast

Before users can listen to your podcast it requires some means of publication. The most common way to publish a podcast is by using an RSS feed, which is a special file that points to the podcast (the MP3, MPEG4 etc.) and contains your description of the podcast's content.

The University of Oxford provides a cataloguing and publishing tool MediaPub which generates RSS and manages the University media publishing workflow.

MediaPub allows University members to publish a media item to the following University channels:

  1. Podcasts.ox.ac.uk
  2. University of Oxford iTunesU site
  3. Weblearn platform
  4. Mobile Oxford
  5. And through RSS feeds into department websites

As a summary, you should already have the following items before publishing:

  1. A media file
  2. Information about the media: title, description, speakers, keywords, etc
  3. The URL of the media file. If you need help we could host the podcast for you in a University online repository. Please contact podcasts@it.ox.ac.uk for more information.
  4. Signed Legal form. The release form can be downloaded from http://www.ox.ac.uk/itunes_u/contribute.html

MediaPub can be used then to add media items an existing departmental series or a new series can be created.

We always recommend the following short training session for anyone involved in podcasting at Oxford: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TIMV

3.1. MediaPub RSS System

MediaPub is a cataloguing engine and RSS newsfeed generator for podcasts and ebooks from the University of Oxford. It was built using Drupal 7 and replaces the podcasting functionality of OxITEMS. MediaPub feeds can be subscribed to by digital media players allowing the end user to receive podcasts etc. without the need to visit the originating web site themselves.

The best way of discovering how MediaPub can help you cataloguing and publishing is watching the MediaPub training video.

The first step the author has to make is to upload the podcast to their web space, e.g. a college server, their users web space or to a course area on the WebLearn VLE. You cannot upload files to MediaPub as it is not a filestore, nor are other RSS feeds; they merely link a media item in a newsfeed to an associated file (called a enclosure) and contain textual information about this linked file. Once the location of the podcast is known, follow the instructions below:

Using the Dashboard

  1. Go to the MediaPub web site: http://mediapub.it.ox.ac.uk. Accessing the MediaPub system requires authentication as a member of Oxford University through WebAuth.
  2. After you have logged into MediaPub using your Oxford Single Sign-on (SSO) you will see your dashboard.
    MediaPub Dashboard
    Figure 1. MediaPub Dashboard
  3. Your dashboard contains two sections. The top section is a horizontal slider of all series of which you are currently a maintainer. Hover over the slider and you will see a scrollbar allowing you to scroll left and right to see all your series. You can also jump to any of your series using the Jump menu in the header of every page.
    Series Dashboard
    Figure 2. Series Dashboard
  4. Underneath the slider is a paginated list of all podcast episodes in your series, with a description of who authored them. By default these are ordered by most recent, and you can reorder and filter the episodes. From this view, you can quickly see which podcasts have yet to be published/approved by the Educational Media Services team. You can also use the Quick Search box to search for podcasts in your series.
    Episodes Dashboard
    Figure 3. Episodes Dashboard

Creating a Series

  1. In order to create series on MediaPub, you must first contact podcasts@it.ox.ac.uk and ask to be given the correct permissions. This is a one-off process, and once you have been granted the permissions, you will be able to create as many series as you like. To create a new series, click the Add New Series link in the site header. A list of all your series can be accessed from your dashboard or from the Jump menu in the header of every page.
    Jump to a Series
    Figure 4. Jump to a Series
  2. To later edit a series title, description or album cover, simply click on the "edit" tab above the series information.
    Editing a Series
    Figure 5. Editing a Series

Adding an episode

  1. Once you have created a series, you can add podcast episodes to the series. On the series page, click the “Create a new episode in this series” link.
    Adding new episode
    Figure 6. Adding new episode
  2. Each episode will have at least one media file associated with it. The file(s) must be stored on a server and have a publicly-accessible URL. Educational Media Services is happy to host your podcast media files, so if you require this please, contact us.

    You can attach up to four media formats to the episode:

    1. Audio files: they should be mp3 (mono, 80kbps is recommended).
    2. Video files: they must be H.264 mp4, around 840kbits/sec, 25fps, 640x360 (16:9) or alternatively 640x480 (4:3).
    3. PDF files: generally used for transcripts or slides
    4. ePub: generally used for ebooks.

    In a simple use case you may only upload the mp3 of a talk. For video podcasts, we strongly recommend adding an audio-only mp3 version of the podcast as well for people on a limited-bandwidth connection.

    Episode Files
    Figure 7. Episode Files
  3. If you wish, you can create episodes without media files as “placeholder” episodes and add the media files at a later date. Episodes without media files will not be published in any podcasts until an online file is added to the flaceholder field.
  4. By default, an episode will be unpublished and will not be included in any newsfeeds. The episode will be approved and published by the podcasting team after it has been checked for quality and once we have received a signed release form from each speaker. The latest version of the release form can be downloaded from http://www.ox.ac.uk/itunes_u/contribute.html
    Unpublished Episodes
    Figure 8. Unpublished Episodes

Adding and removing maintainers to a series

  1. After a series is created, you can add additional maintainers by clicking on the "Maintainers" tab above the series, and then click the "Add maintainer" link.
    Series Maintainers
    Figure 9. Series Maintainers
  2. Start typing the name, SSO or e-mail address to find the maintainer(s) to add. Tick the "admin role" box if you would like the person to have full maintainer rights (in addition to adding new episodes, admins can edit the series information and can edit any existing episodes regardless of who created them). Admin maintainers can also add and remove other maintainers, and edit their roles.
    Series Maintainers
    Figure 10. Series Maintainers
  3. To remove maintainers or to add/remove series admin privileges, click the "Maintainers" tab, then click the "List maintainers" link. This will give you a list of all maintainers. Click the "edit" links to add/remove admin privileges for that maintainer. To remove maintainer(s) from the series, check the box(es) next to the maintainer(s) you would like to remove, and click the "Remove selected maintainers" button at the top.
    Series Maintainers
    Figure 11. Series Maintainers

Links to your series and Episodes

  1. After the items have been approved by the Educational Media Services team, they will be published to the different University publishing channels: podcasts.ox.ac.uk and iTunesU. Additional you can find direct links to the RSS feeds.
    Publishing
    Figure 12. Publishing
  2. Series with at least one approved episode will be automatically added to http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk within 24 hours.
    Podcasts.ox.ac.uk Series Vie
    Figure 13. Podcasts.ox.ac.uk Series View
  3. Series must be manually created on iTunes U by the Educational Media Services team and so it may take up to 28 days. Once a series has been added to iTunes U, a link to it will be added to the series page. Please get in touch if your series isn't in iTunes U and you think it should be.
    iTunesU Series View
    Figure 14. iTunesU Series View

Generating an RSS newsfeed

  1. RSS newsfeeds are a simple way to get your podcasts into departmental or college websites, and allow people with RSS feed readers to subscribe to your podcasts and receive new episodes as they are added. RSS newsfeeds are generated automatically when episodes are published, and they come in two main flavours - audio feeds (for mp3 audio files) and video feeds (for mp4 video files). Audio and video content is split across separate feeds because iTunes U prefers it this way, and it allows people to subscribe to a lower-bandwidth version of the material if they so wish.
    RSS Feeds
    Figure 15. RSS Feeds
  2. Although mp3/mp4 files make up the standard outputs for these feeds, both audio feeds and video feeds can also contain PDF or ePub document files for transcripts, slides and eBooks. In the vast majority of cases you will only generate audio and/or video feeds. In very rare cases, when you have only document files in the series, you may generate a document-only feed (an example of a document-only feed is Shakespeare's First Folio).

We always recommend the following short training session for anyone involved in podcasting at Oxford: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TIMV

4. Publishing a podcast

Before users can listen to your podcast it requires some means of publication. The most common way to publish a podcast is by using an RSS feed, which is a special file that points to the podcast (the MP3, MPEG4 etc.) and contains your description of the podcast's content.

The University of Oxford provides a cataloguing and publishing tool MediaPub which generates RSS and manages the University media publishing workflow.

MediaPub allows University members to publish a media item to the following University channels:

  1. Podcasts.ox.ac.uk
  2. University of Oxford iTunesU site
  3. Weblearn platform
  4. Mobile Oxford
  5. And through RSS feeds into department websites

As a summary, you should already have the following items before publishing:

  1. A media file
  2. Information about the media: title, description, speakers, keywords, etc
  3. The URL of the media file. If you need help we could host the podcast for you in a University online repository. Please contact podcasts@it.ox.ac.uk for more information.
  4. Signed Legal form. The release form can be downloaded from http://www.ox.ac.uk/itunes_u/contribute.html

MediaPub can be used then to add media items an existing departmental series or a new series can be created.

We always recommend the following short training session for anyone involved in podcasting at Oxford: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TIMV

4.1. MediaPub RSS System

MediaPub is a cataloguing engine and RSS newsfeed generator for podcasts and ebooks from the University of Oxford. It was built using Drupal 7 and replaces the podcasting functionality of OxITEMS. MediaPub feeds can be subscribed to by digital media players allowing the end user to receive podcasts etc. without the need to visit the originating web site themselves.

The best way of discovering how MediaPub can help you cataloguing and publishing is watching the MediaPub training video.

The first step the author has to make is to upload the podcast to their web space, e.g. a college server, their users web space or to a course area on the WebLearn VLE. You cannot upload files to MediaPub as it is not a filestore, nor are other RSS feeds; they merely link a media item in a newsfeed to an associated file (called a enclosure) and contain textual information about this linked file. Once the location of the podcast is known, follow the instructions below:

Using the Dashboard

  1. Go to the MediaPub web site. Accessing the MediaPub system requires authentication as a member of Oxford University through WebAuth.
  2. After you have logged into MediaPub using your Oxford Single Sign-on (SSO) you will see your dashboard.
    MediaPub Dashboard
    Figure 16. MediaPub Dashboard
  3. Your dashboard contains two sections. The top section is a horizontal slider of all series of which you are currently a maintainer. Hover over the slider and you will see a scrollbar allowing you to scroll left and right to see all your series. You can also jump to any of your series using the Jump menu in the header of every page.
    Series Dashboard
    Figure 17. Series Dashboard
  4. Underneath the slider is a paginated list of all podcast episodes in your series, with a description of who authored them. By default these are ordered by most recent, and you can reorder and filter the episodes. From this view, you can quickly see which podcasts have yet to be published/approved by the Educational Media Services team. You can also use the Quick Search box to search for podcasts in your series.
    Episodes Dashboard
    Figure 18. Episodes Dashboard

Creating a Series

  1. In order to create series on MediaPub, you must first contact podcasts@it.ox.ac.uk and ask to be given the correct permissions. This is a one-off process, and once you have been granted the permissions, you will be able to create as many series as you like. To create a new series, click the Add New Series link in the site header. A list of all your series can be accessed from your dashboard or from the Jump menu in the header of every page.
    Jump to a Series
    Figure 19. Jump to a Series
  2. To later edit a series title, description or album cover, simply click on the "edit" tab above the series information.
    Editing a Series
    Figure 20. Editing a Series

Adding an episode

  1. Once you have created a series, you can add podcast episodes to the series. On the series page, click the “Create a new episode in this series” link.
    Adding new episode
    Figure 21. Adding new episode
  2. Each episode will have at least one media file associated with it. The file(s) must be stored on a server and have a publicly-accessible URL. Educational Media Services is happy to host your podcast media files, so if you require this please, contact us.

    You can attach up to four media formats to the episode:

    1. Audio files: they should be mp3 (mono, 80kbps is recommended).
    2. Video files: they must be H.264 mp4, around 840kbits/sec, 25fps, 640x360 (16:9) or alternatively 640x480 (4:3).
    3. PDF files: generally used for transcripts or slides
    4. ePub: generally used for ebooks.

    In a simple use case you may only upload the mp3 of a talk. For video podcasts, we strongly recommend adding an audio-only mp3 version of the podcast as well for people on a limited-bandwidth connection.

    Episode Files
    Figure 22. Episode Files
  3. If you wish, you can create episodes without media files as “placeholder” episodes and add the media files at a later date. Episodes without media files will not be published in any podcasts until an online file is added to the flaceholder field.
  4. By default, an episode will be unpublished and will not be included in any newsfeeds. The episode will be approved and published by the podcasting team after it has been checked for quality and once we have received a signed release form from each speaker. The latest version of the release form can be downloaded from http://www.ox.ac.uk/itunes_u/contribute.html
    Unpublished Episodes
    Figure 23. Unpublished Episodes

Adding and removing maintainers to a series

  1. After a series is created, you can add additional maintainers by clicking on the "Maintainers" tab above the series, and then click the "Add maintainer" link.
    Series Maintainers
    Figure 24. Series Maintainers
  2. Start typing the name, SSO or e-mail address to find the maintainer(s) to add. Tick the "admin role" box if you would like the person to have full maintainer rights (in addition to adding new episodes, admins can edit the series information and can edit any existing episodes regardless of who created them). Admin maintainers can also add and remove other maintainers, and edit their roles.
    Series Maintainers
    Figure 25. Series Maintainers
  3. To remove maintainers or to add/remove series admin privileges, click the "Maintainers" tab, then click the "List maintainers" link. This will give you a list of all maintainers. Click the "edit" links to add/remove admin privileges for that maintainer. To remove maintainer(s) from the series, check the box(es) next to the maintainer(s) you would like to remove, and click the "Remove selected maintainers" button at the top.
    Series Maintainers
    Figure 26. Series Maintainers

Links to your series and Episodes

  1. After the items have been approved by the Educational Media Services team, they will be published to the different University publishing channels: podcasts.ox.ac.uk and iTunesU. Additional you can find direct links to the RSS feeds.
    Publishing
    Figure 27. Publishing
  2. Series with at least one approved episode will be automatically added to http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk within 24 hours.
    Podcasts.ox.ac.uk Series Vie
    Figure 28. Podcasts.ox.ac.uk Series View
  3. Series must be manually created on iTunes U by the Educational Media Services team and so it may take up to 28 days. Once a series has been added to iTunes U, a link to it will be added to the series page. Please get in touch if your series isn't in iTunes U and you think it should be.
    iTunesU Series View
    Figure 29. iTunesU Series View

Generating an RSS newsfeed

  1. RSS newsfeeds are a simple way to get your podcasts into departmental or college websites, and allow people with RSS feed readers to subscribe to your podcasts and receive new episodes as they are added. RSS newsfeeds are generated automatically when episodes are published, and they come in two main flavours - audio feeds (for mp3 audio files) and video feeds (for mp4 video files). Audio and video content is split across separate feeds because iTunes U prefers it this way, and it allows people to subscribe to a lower-bandwidth version of the material if they so wish.
    RSS Feeds
    Figure 30. RSS Feeds
  2. Although mp3/mp4 files make up the standard outputs for these feeds, both audio feeds and video feeds can also contain PDF or ePub document files for transcripts, slides and eBooks. In the vast majority of cases you will only generate audio and/or video feeds. In very rare cases, when you have only document files in the series, you may generate a document-only feed (an example of a document-only feed is Shakespeare's First Folio).

We always recommend the following short training session for anyone involved in podcasting at Oxford: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TIMV