Working in UCLA on iTunes U | Using an Existing RSS feed

In addition to Apple's iTunes U support site, which provides a number of resources on creating and administrating content, we have put together some recommendations:

Preparing your Content

You need to have your tools in place

If you dont have it, download and install iTunes and familiarize yourself with its functions, because de facto, youll be supporting anyone developing content with/for you. See the resources section for links and our podcast on 'Getting Started Podcasting' for help.

Prepare your files for uploading

Do a good job of preparing your audio or video: make sure youve got decent quality output and then add the frills to it: an introduction, music clips, synchronized slides really enhance a podcast.

Provide good access to your media. Check out the information side of your media creation tools. The default information supplied by most programs is very bad. In the example below, the first few lines are tracks where the file properties have been modified to provide consistent titling and categorization, the second group of files contains the generic default information ProfCast software puts in when a file is saved.

TunesU track listing


Metadata is information about your content, such as track name and artist that helps people decide what you're offering. It must be updated locally, where you have file access before loading it to iTunes U. Develop a workflow that includes modifying/improving the metadata first. Once youve uploaded them, you cant modify files and graphics. This will save you the effort of multiple uploads/replacements etc.

The easiest way to do this is to use iTunes itself. Load files you want to modify into iTunes by dragging and dropping them into the music section. Use either File>Get info; or right click on a title to open the dialog box.


The metadata categories provided in iTunes are straightforward. If you/your group plan/s to provide content regularly; think through how you want to name things and apply your standard consistently, e.g. applying sorting information (smart search).

  • Name: use a clear, succinct title, space is premium
  • Time: automatically entered
  • Artist: is artist an individual or group/unit/department?
  • Album: what do you consider an album: an event, a lecture series, all content from a course, sound and other media?
  • Genre: iTunes provides music-oriented categories but you can also add to this list (from Apple: Broad category, for example, by subject (such as architecture), by publisher, by organization (such as a university name), or by type (such as podcast)
  • Grouping: create a theme, category for tracks, like genre, use for keywords
  • Composer: content developer or technical support
  • Comments: text can be used to assist smart search
  • Album artist
  • Year
  • Track #
  • Disk #
  • BPM

Working in UCLA on iTunes U

Additional resources: For information on how to use iTunes or the iTunes Store, in iTunes, choose Help > iTunes Help.

Set up your courses

  • Request a course: the title you use in your request MUST be the title used in iTunes. Once the course has been created, you will be able to edit it.
  • Add description, instructor information, and links
  • Add your thumbnail image. This should be 300x300 pixels. We recommend you follow the various UCLA style guides and identity guidelines.
  • Create or delete tabs. If you only a few tracks and/or other files, you may need only on tab. If you have multiple sessions or media types you may one to have multiple tabs. Note: Each tab has its on RSS link so you link to the course or an individual tab from a website.
  • Add links: this is a chance to promote yourself.
  • Upload content: Upload into the tab of your choice. You can sort and organize the files as you desire.

Set up your section

Contributors responsible for a department or other area may be given a section of a landing page. Once your section has been created, it will appear on the associated landing page. You must file a request for each course you plan to add to your section (as above). Add materials as above.

Setting up welcome pages

If the taxonomy is expanded, large content groups may have sub-Welcome Pages where units can create their own 'branded' areas. In addition to the guidelines above, please note that while Apple allows a page banner to be 600 wide x 300 pixels in height, the workgroup has set 200 pixels as our maximum, to provide as much space as possible for content. Follow UCLA identity guidelines whenever possible. Do not create text that is flush with the edge of the graphic. If you wish to line up your banner with the section boxes, use the UCLA blue (536895) to create the margin.

Using an Existing RSS feed

An alternative to uploading files (video or audio) directly to Apple servers, a course can be directed to an existing RSS feed that is compatible with iTunes. This method provides the following advantages:

  • Access to the content (media files) remains on your servers. This allows you to continue collecting metrics on access and easily control the location of the files.
  • Managing content on iTunes is easier. The file upload process in iTunes can be time consuming. Pointing to an RSS feed dramatically speeds up the process.
  • Re-use existing content. This method allows you to re-use content that may already be delivered from your website. Also, as you maintain the media files and RSS feed, iTunes is automatically updated with the new files - no additional step is required.

To direct a course to an existing RSS feed:

  • In iTunes, navigate to the desired course and begin editing.
  • Click the 'pencil' icon for the group/tab you want populated by the RSS feed.
  • From the 'type' pull-down menu, select 'feed'.
  • Provide the full feed url and feed owner email address; then click 'apply'.

If everything works out, the group/tab should get populated.

Here are some potential troublespots and solutions:

  • If after clicking 'Apply' your iTunes interface is 'distorted' and you are unable to make any further selections, click on the very last item in the iTunes breadcrumbs at the top. This will take you out of editing mode, but keep you in the right place.
  • The URL inputed into the 'Full Feed URL' should begin with 'http://'.
  • Make sure your web server is sending the RSS feed as 'Content-type: text/xml' or 'Content-type: application/xml'. The content type must be an XML type. If your web server is sending the feed as 'text/html', iTunes will return an error.
    • You can use a Firefox add-on called 'Live HTTP headers' to determine how your web server is serving the RSS feed. After installing the add-on, go to 'Tools > Live HTTP headers' to open the capture window. Navigate to your RSS feed and examine the server's response. Towards the end, you should see the 'Content-type' line.
    • If the response from the server is 'HTTP/1.x 304 OK', then you are viewing a cached version. Just hold down the 'shift' click and click 'reload' to force a round-trip to the server.