2. What is podcasting?

Podcasting itself is described as the method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio or videos files, over the internet for future playback on mobile devices or computers. The term podcast, like 'radio', can mean both the content and the method of delivery. A particular advantage to podcasting is that the media is easily created by most recording equipment (an iPod with a mic, a computer, a DV camera) and is encoded into an industry standard (MP3) that is universally read by computers and portable media devices.

Podcasting also uses an XML-based technology called Really Simple Syndication (RSS). When you want to publish a new podcast, you add a description of the podcast to an XML RSS file. You can include lots of information about your podcast such as dates, ns, description etc and importantly you link to your podcast file as well. This file is published to the web as an item in a RSS feed and is the means by which users access your podcast. They can either download individual podcasts or if they subscribe to your feed, they can receive the new episodes as and when they are published.

If you want an introduction to what podcasting is, please watch the Why Podcast video.

Podcasts are different from Internet radio stations. Radio content is streamed over the Internet, while Podcast episodes are downloaded to a computer first before play-back on digital devices.

With the proliferation of podcasts on both academic and non-academic subjects the need for directory services has arisen. Many directory services can be found on the Internet including one provided by the Apple iTunes software. iTunes can search existing podcasts based on outputted RSS feeds providing you with new sources of information.

Apple have also developed the iTunes U service which enables an academic institution to provide a site that showcases their podcasts. Originally, the institutions were only American universities and colleges. However, starting in June 2008, other academic institutions around the world have been able to provide sites. The University of Oxford's site in iTunes U became available on October 7th 2008. It can be accessed from http://itunes.ox.ac.uk. The iTunes U service requires the listener/viewer to be using the iTunes software. As well as having a site in iTunes U, our podcasts can also be seen using a web browser at http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/.

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