Obtaining Releases

Secure permission from the speaker(s). Here is a link to a sample participant release form that gives permission to record and distribute the recording.

Podcasting Tools

Guidelines for Media Creation

Focus on the creation of your media and make sure you have captured decent quality sound output first. Then focus on adding the frills: intro and music, etc.

Metadata Guidelines

Providing good access to your media is not automatic. Explore the metadata capabilities of your media creation tools. The default information supplied by many programs is poor. Compare the two sets of files in the list below. In the first set, the file properties have been modified to provide consistent titling and categorization; the second set of files contains only generic default information.

TunesU track listing

Metadata 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 you've uploaded them, you can't 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.

Naming Guidelines

The fields of information available for each podcast track (or "metadata") have a history in music files. Podcasting has grown far beyond simply recorded music, but the conventions remain. Thus, a professor might be listed as the "Artist," and a course name as the "Album." While many of the metadata categories listed below are straightforward, if your group plans to provide content regularly, you will want to develop a standard naming convention to aid users and search engines.

  • Name: Give your content, a clear, descriptive title. "Lecture 1" is weak, while "Prof. Smith: Intro to Chocolate" conveys more information.
  • Artist: Can be an artist, individual, group, unit, or department
  • Album: Can be an event, a lecture series, all content from a course
  • Genre: iTunes provides music-oriented categories but you can also add to this list.Consider how you want to identify specific categories (For example, by subject (such as architecture), by publisher, by organization (such as a university name), or by content type (such as podcast)
  • Grouping: can be used to create a category for tracks, much like a genre, useful for keyword searching.
  • Composer: Can be used for the content developer or technical support
  • Comments: This field is used by some "smart search" tools
  • Year

A good tip is to look at other podcasts similar to your and find a metadata convention you are comfortable with. The key to help your users is developign a consistent style for your tracks.

Guidelines for utilizing existing RSS feeds

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 media files remains on your servers. This allows you to continue collecting metrics on access.
  • Managing content on iTunes is easier. The file upload process in iTunes can be time consuming. If your department has an establish workflow, using its RSS feed dramatically speeds up the process of adding content to UCLA on iTunes U.
  • Re-use existing content. UCLA on iTunes U becomes an additional access point for your files.
  • Information from Apple on how XML fields match the iTunes interface.
  • RSS validator to test your feed.

To direct a course to an existing RSS feed:

  • In iTunes U, navigate to the desired course.
  • Click the 'pencil' icon for the group or 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 gotchas 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' key and click 'reload' to force a round-trip to the server.
  • iTunes is very sensitive non-encoded characters. For example, using an "&" will break your RSS feed so you need to use the XML entity & instead. Learn more here.

Graphics and Icons