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Podcasting: Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

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What is podcasting?

Podcasting is a way to automatically distribute audio and video files over the Internet. Users who download an audio or video podcast can then listen to or watch this digital media file on their personal computer, or by using a portable media player like an iPod. The term "podcast" can refer to the media files themselves or to the method of delivery (i.e., a subscription) that utilizes RSS and Atom feed technology. Podcasts are unique in that once a user subscribes to a podcast, a "podcatcher" program will then automatically download a new episode when the media file becomes available, so that the user doesn't need to check for these updates manually.

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What is an RSS feed?

An RSS feed is an online content information stream that, in the context of podcasts, can be used to automatically download new podcasts when they become available. When a user subscribes to a podcast's RSS feed using a podcatcher, that user will receive automatic digital media content updates from the source of the content. For example, if a user subscribes to the RSS feed of a daily news podcast, then the podcatcher program will automatically download the newest podcast each day, eliminating the need for the user to check that news site to manually download the latest offering. With a podcatcher program like iTunes, a user can subscribe to numerous RSS feeds simultaneously.

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What is a podcatcher?

A podcatcher is an application that you can use to subscribe to podcasts. Podcatcher programs (e.g., iTunes) will automatically download podcasts as they are posted to the podcast provider's web site. A podcatcher is a special type of news aggregator that takes advantage of RSS feed subscription technology designed to retrieve newly available information and digital media files from source web sites automatically.

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What is a podcaster, and who makes podcasts?

"Podcaster" is the term generally used to refer to the host, author, and/or producer of a podcast. Examples of podcasters include professional broadcasters and mass media representatives, professors and instructors podcasting course materials, and independent enthusiasts discussing the topics of their choice. There is a broad spectrum of podcasters making podcasts today, all of whom have access to widespread online audiences. On the IU Podcast Portal, podcasters can submit content that will advance the university's mission of research and creative activity, teaching and learning, and civic engagement. Podcast quality can vary widely, and while professionalism can be an important factor to consider, a podcast doesn't necessarily need to meet the standards of, for example, a radio broadcast.

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What is the difference between a podcast and streaming media?

A podcast is a file that is downloaded once in its entirety, and is therefore playable by the user at any time, without the need for an Internet connection. Streaming media, on the other hand, refers to a continuous transmission of data received by a user who is connected to the source of that data, more similar in nature to a television or radio broadcast.

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What is the IU Podcast Portal?

The Indiana University Podcast Portal (http://podcast.iu.edu/) is the central online gateway for faculty and staff podcasting at IU. Using the portal, faculty and staff can create new podcasts, submit episodes, and manage their existing podcast content. In addition, any user with an Internet connection can find, subscribe to, and download podcasts from the portal.

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How do I make my own podcast?

There are numerous tools available that make podcasting simple and accessible. Free audio software like Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net) and Apple's widely available GarageBand (http://www.apple.com/mac/garageband/) enables podcasters to produce and edit audio episodes and overlay music. Online tutorial sections with step-by-step guides to recording and producing your own audio files are available from these software publishers.

Video podcasting features widely available tools as well, from Apple's iMovie software (http://www.apple.com/mac/imovie/) to PC software like Windows Movie Maker (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Getting-started-with-Windows-Movie-Maker).

In addition, you will find help documents detailing steps to upload your podcast and episode files, and manage your podcast at the IU Podcast Portal.

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How do I upload my podcast onto the IU Podcast Portal?

First, you will need to request an account on the portal by filling out the Portal Request Form. Portal administrators will then contact you to confirm that your account has been created. With an account, you will be able to upload your podcast and manage your podcast episodes. The IU Podcast Portal also includes help documents and instructional podcast episodes that can help you to get started. For additional help, email podcast@iu.edu, or contact your campus Support Center.

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Who can access, subscribe to, and listen to or watch a podcast that I upload to the IU Podcast Portal?

Anyone with an Internet connection can access a podcast that has been uploaded to the IU Podcast Portal.

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Are there content or copyright restrictions on IU Podcast Portal content?

IU Podcast Portal content must meet the standards laid out in the University Information Policy Office (UIPO) university-wide IT Policy page; see Appropriate Use of Information Technology Resources. Appropriate use includes the expectation that podcast content "will be used in support of the university's mission of research and creative activity, teaching and learning, and civic engagement." For more about IU copyright policy, visit http://www.iu.edu/copyright/ or email copyright@iu.edu .

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Where can I learn more about the use of podcasting technology in the classroom?

For more about podcasting in the classroom, contact your campus teaching and learning center.

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Where can I find podcast production services and assistance?

There are several fee-based options for those who would like outside help to produce a professional, polished podcast:

  • IU Radio and Television Services (IU-RTVS) offers a range of assistance for creating and producing high quality original podcasts, whether in audio or video format. Services range from the broad to the specific, from developing an overall design plan to recording, editing and digitizing content.
  • IU Communications provides a host of podcast services including writing and interviewing, research, video production, direction and editing, and any necessary audio recording or editing. IU Communications can also coordinate promotional efforts.
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What file formats does the IU Podcast Portal support?

The IU Podcast Portal supports the MP4 and MOV multimedia container formats, as well as MP3 for audio. UITS recommends using the Apple QuickTime Player or VLC Media Player to play these files.

The MPEG-4 Part 14 (MP4) format is commonly used for digital audio and video streams, and can also store subtitles and images. It's based on Apple's QuickTime container format, and became an international standard in 2000. The decision to support the MP4 file format is based on its overwhelming acceptance as an international standard, and its flexible support of audio and video codecs.

Though not exactly identical to MP4, QuickTime's MOV format is another container format that offers similar benefits. Because of the podcasters' similarity between formats, the podcast portal lets content producers decide which to use.

The Podcast Portal also supports MP3 format for audio-only media files. iTunes, QuickTime, and VLC fully support MP3 files. All portable media players also support MP3 playback, as do most mobile phones.

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Is there a data storage upload limit for podcasts?

No, there is not currently a limit to the amount of podcast storage space that a user can upload.

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Why is it taking a long time for me to upload my file?

Long upload times could be due to a network configuration issue. Contact your local service provider to make sure that the duplex settings on the Ethernet port and the network adapter match.

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How can I report a bug, or submit a request for a new feature?

You are welcome to submit feedback and suggestions about the IU Podcast Portal. To submit an idea, or to report a problem or bug that you've encountered while using the site, click Help at the top of the home page, and fill out the "Contact Us:" form. You will be asked to provide your name, email address and your comment; you will receive a response as soon as possible.

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How is the IU Podcast Portal different from iTunes U?

The IU Podcast Portal is a intended to broaden the IU community of podcasters and to provide IU organizations, faculty, and staff with a central podcast site. Podcast content on podcast.iu.edu is open and available to the public for listening, viewing, and downloading.

iTunes U is the result of an agreement between Apple and Indiana University to make subscribing to podcasts easier and more convenient. The focus on that site will include primarily student course work, which professors can opt to make available to the public.

Utilizing iTunes U in conjunction with Oncourse technology, professors and students will be able to easily upload class-related content and student work to designated spaces in iTunes U. The integration with Oncourse will allow professors to limit access to podcasts to students and other qualifying instructors.

Visit IU's iTunes U launch page at http://itunes.iu.edu/.

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How are the New and Notable podcasts selected?

The New and Notable podcasts featured on the IU Podcast Portal are maintained and selected based on, but not limited to, the following criteria:

  • The New and Notable section will feature no more than one podcast per provider.
  • The section will present a broad selection of podcasts representing the wide-ranging interests of our audience.
  • The section will represent IU's strategic strengths.
  • New and Notable podcasts will include those of high production value.
  • Podcasts in the New and Notable section will rotate every 30 days.
  • Podcasts that exemplify these qualities include those from the Jacobs School of Music and Sound Medicine.
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What if I want to use third-party copyrighted material in a public podcast?

To use third-party copyrighted material in a podcast that will be distributed to the public, podcasters, including faculty members, need to either obtain permission from the copyright holder or ensure that the copyrighted material falls within an exception to the need for permission, as outlined by fair use policies and the TEACH Act.

For more about copyright usage, visit http://www.iu.edu/copyright/.

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Why won't a video podcast play on my iPod?

Some files on the IU Podcast Portal were encoded in the QuickTime .mov format. While these files will play fine on a computer, they will not play on video iPods such as the iPod touch or the iPhone.

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Last modified on March 24, 2014.

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