Media Service: Podcasting
What is podcasting?
Podcasting is a simple means of delivering a media file by downloading it after a user requests it. The downloaded file can then be played on a PC, or transferred to a wide range of portable media players, of which the iPod is the best known example. MP3 audio is probably the most well known file format, but podcasting is not limited to audio, any file can be deliverd in this manner.
Subscribing to and receiving podcasts
Users subscribe to podcasts using an "aggregator" such as Juice which reads the details of the podcast contained in a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) 2.0 XML file that it downloads over HTTP. Podcast aggregators periodically check the podcast feeds subscribed to and download any new programmes ready for playback or transfer to a portable media player.
Because users themselves subscribe to podcasts content providers do not have to administer subscriber lists. Be aware however that downloaded content can be copied and shared.
Wikipedia on podcasting
If you want the full history and technical details on podcasting see the Wikipedia at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast.
What could I use a podcast for?
For many instances where you want to deliver audio (and video) as part of learning or research materials the exisiting facilities provided by the streaming media service are the best solution, particularly where the material concerned is copyright, is used under license conditions that mandate secure, authenticated access.
Unauthorised use of Copyright material constitutes a breach of Regulation 4 of the University's Computing Regulations and may also result in legal action being taken against you by 3rd parties. If you have any doubt whatsoever about the copyright status of your media assets please seek further advice.
However, you could consider podcasting for situations where you want to provide an audio (or video) item that can be downloaded and transferred to a personal media player so that the user can listen to (or watch) it at a time and place of their own choosing.
Let's imagine a possible application. The University is hosting a significant international exhibition and it makes an audio guide to this available in several languages as an MP3 audio podcast. Visitors can then download this in the language they prefer and use it when they tour the exhibition. Moreover, subscribers to the podcast can now continue to receive information about further upcoming events: the University now has a communication channel to past and intending visitors.
Other possible applications for the use of podcasts in higher education are described in the article Podcasting And Vodcasting In Higher Education: How Disruptive Will They Be? which is derived from a paper by Peter Meng a Technical Business Analyst at the University of Missouri.
How can I get started?
Just contact us using the email address below and we will discuss your requirements and then, if you want to go ahead will do the initial setup for your podcast, provide the URL to it for aggregators and explain to you how to add new programmes to your podcast.
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.