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Podcasting FAQ

 

 

What is podcasting?

A podcast is group of episodes packaged as a a series of digital media files. The term podcast, like 'radio', can mean both the content and the method of delivery. Podcasting in this way provides a method of distributing audio or videos files over the internet for future playback. When users subscribe to a podcast series, new episodes are automatically added via RSS web syndication to the users preferred podcast application or downloaded to the user's local computer. A particular advantage to podcasting is that the media is easily created by most recording equipment (a computer with a mic and camera) and is encoded into an industry standard (MP3) that is universally read by computers and portable media devices. 

 

How does podcast publishing work?

Podcasting uses an XML-based technology called Really Simple Syndication (RSS). Each podcast is delivered like a news stream, and when you subscribe to this podcast stream, the latest podcast media file is added to the sequence and comes packaged with its title, description, date, and any keywords.  The items then can be either downloaded separately, or there are many other services which make subscribing, downloading and/or streaming each podcast very easy. 

 

What are some suggested podcasting applications?

You can subscribe to podcasts using RSS readers (e.g., Feedly or Flipboard), specialized web sites that aggregate podcasts (e.g., visit Stitcher or TuneIn, or Apple's iTunes), and many specialised free and paid iPhone and Android apps for mobile devices (see Castro, Player FM, or Downcast). To find more, and there are many, do a search in Google for "podcast readers" or "podcast services" or "podcasting apps". 

 

How does Oxford use podcasting?

Educational Media Services (EMS) is responsible for the University of Oxford's podcasting services, as well as all of the University's audio-video production and editing needs. Central to podcasting, it has developed and maintains MediaPub, its podcasting publishing portal. Publishing to MediaPub provides the RSS feeds (XML) that populate the two sites where Oxford podcasts can be found:

  1. The website podcasts.ox.ac.uk is a website where users can search and listen to/watch podcasts. It received RSS feeds from MediaPub.
  2. Apple have develped Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunesU) in order that academic institutions can showcase their podcasts. The University of Oxford's site on Apple Podcasts became available on October 7th 2008. It can be accessed from http://itunes.ox.ac.uk. The Apple Podcasts service requires the listener/viewer to be using the iTunes software.

While a bit dated, please watch the Why Podcast video for a simple introduction to podcasting at Oxford.

 

How do I get started publishing a podcast?

The best way is to read through our Getting Started guide. This guide will provide an overview to the steps required to get podcast content created and published. Briefly, you must download and have the podcast "speaker" sign the release form; create a relatively high-standard mp3 audio or mp4 video file; send us the media file to place it online, create a series into which you may catalog your podcast episode and link to the file (using MediaPub), and then have us review everything before we approve the episode for publishing.

 

What is MediaPub?

MediaPub is a Drupal site that has been developed for University of Oxford users to publish audio and video (and in some cases ePub books and PDFs) files for podcasting. MediaPub allows user to create a podcast series with an album cover, series description, and the Oxford division/unit to which it belongs. When a user is responsible for a series, they may also add individual podcast episodes to this series. When episodes are added, the user must describe the episode with  metadata about the episode: its title, description, the people speaking, an Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunesU) category, the legal contribution form, and the media file itself. When this episode it published, MediaPub produces the RSS feed that -- after about 24 hours -- provides the "latest" updates to both Apple Podcasts and the podcasts.ox.ac.uk website.

For more information on MediaPub and the publishing process, please visit the MediaPub Publishing Guide help pages. 

 

How do I access and use MediaPub?

All Oxford University members have access to MediaPub by logging in with the Oxford single sign-on (SSO) at: mediapub.it.ox.ac.ukHowever, you must first have certain permissions enabled to create a new series or view any series that you are a 'maintaner' of.  To gain this access, please write podcasts@it.ox.ac.uk to request edit access to a particular series your unit/department is responsible for, or to request the ability to create a new series

For more information on MediaPub and the publishing process, please visit the MediaPub Publishing Guide help pages.

 

How do I create a new series?

If you are already a maintainer of an existing series. this series will appear on your dashboard when logging into MediaPub. If you want to create a new series, you must have special permissions, and these can be requested by writing podcasts@it.ox.ac.uk.  Once you are provided these permissions, you will then see an olive-green tab appear on your MediaPub page entitled "Add New Series." By clicking on this link, you can then enter the title, description, associated unit/department, and album cover for a new series. This does not publish the series, it only provides the thematic container into which you can begin to create particular episodes that belong to the new series. 

 

What should I name my new series?

This is one of the most important parts of publishing a podcast. A series is the way the world will (or will not) decide to subscribe to the podcast episodes it contains. It is what a user sees first, both on Apple Podcasts and on podcasts.ox.ac.uk. For this reason, it is the series that must first attract a new subscriber/listener. The series title should be infomative, short, meaningful, descriptive, and thematic of the episodes it contains. The title, its corresponding cover image, and the series description should invoke an accurate portrayal of what the subscriber/listener should expect to hear/watch/learn if they choose to subscribe and start listening to or watching the podcast content. The title and description should also appeal to a global audience (not just an audience within the UK or within Oxford University).

We have put together a more formal list of writing guidelines and discoverability tips. Heed these in your own interest, as a series with a strong and meaningful title/descripton is what creates higher viewership statistics to pass on to your department or project group.  

 

How do I create a new episode?

You can do this by logging onto MediaPub, our publishing platform. You can log onto MediaPub using your Oxford single sign-on (mediapub.it.ox.ac.uk).  If you are already a maintainer of an existing series, this series and any others you maintain will appear on your dashboard. To create a new episode, click on the series you maintain under which you wish to publish the new episode. On that page, you will see a "Create a new episode in thes series" link, as documented here.  

 

How many episodes are permitted per series?

We encourage series growth. However, there are technical constraints to our publishing platform and to Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunesU). There are two loose ways of conceptualising our service: series as fixed subject and series as growing collection.

Series as fixed subject: We encourage the development of podcast series based on a specific, subject-based theme, and that contain a finite number of episodes (e.g., much like chapters that make up a book, or modules that make up course). In our experience, it is these kinds of series that are usually the most successful (i.e., generate the most number of views and/or downloads), and they usually contain 10 to 35 episodes. 

Series as growing collection: Many successful series, on the other hand, operate more like a growing collection, to which one subscribes for the "latest" release. Some of series we publish have more than 100 episodes, and have been growing since 2009. 

Lately, due to technical constraints, we have had to manage the number of episodes in these growing series. Apple Inc. and Apple Podcasts -- our main publishing channel (second to www.podcasts.ox.ac.uk) -- has for the best experience recommended no more than 50 episodes per series. This is not strictly enforced by Apple, but as of 2016, our largest series have experienced severe technical issues due to size. For this reason, we have started explicitly asking the maintainers of large (100 episode +) series to find ways to break these up, in the following ways, or a mix of them:

  1. Large 100+ series are divided up thematically into a fixed subject; and/or,
  2. The oldest episodes from 100+ series are removed and placed in a dated archival series with the same series title. The current growing collection is otherwise not changed. For instance, if "Series XYZ" contains over 150 episodes from 2010 to 2017, in order for this series to keep providing the "latest" podcast release, the episodes between 2010 and 2013 should be removed an placed in a series entitled "Series XYZ (2010 - 2013 archive)", resulting in two series:
  • "Series XYZ"
  • "Series XYZ (2010 - 2013 archive)"

These decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, and will not occur without the cooperation of a series departmental maintainer.

 

What is a "speaker release form" and where can I find one? 

Publishing podcasts requires that participating speakers provide permission for their talk to be released. For this reason, Educational Media Services provide a "Speaker Release Form" that all speakers must sign before we can publish this material on the www.podcasts.ox.ac.uk or on Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunesU).

The form is available for download here:

http://www.ox.ac.uk/itunes_u/contribute.html

The signed original must be mailed to:

Educational Media Service, 13 Banbury Road, OX2 6NN

On the form, there is the option to tick a box that additionally makes the podcast available for re-use under a Creative Commons License, which makes the content frree for re-use, remixing, and redistribution within an educational context worldwide. More information is found here:

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/.

While ticking this box when signing the contribution form is optional, we encourage this practice.

 

Will my podcast updates be published instantly?  

 
After the required steps have been taken to publish your podcast (i.e., pay particular attention to steps 2, 3, 4 and 5 on our "Getting Started" overview page), only Educational Media Services can "publish" your new podcast or podcast updates. Once we publish, however, for technical reasons it takes at the an additional 24 to 48 hours before your podcast (or podcast updates) will appear on either www.podcasts.ox.ac.uk or on Apple Podcasts.
 
Thus, when managing your project, always count on an additional day after we approve and "publish" your material before it will appear as properly published and online for public consuption.

 

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Written by IT Services. Latest revision 5 December 2017