Introduction to Podcasting
In this lesson, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide to creating a Podcast and how to distribute this content on the Internet. Podcasting is the distribution of audio and video via RSS 2.0 and /or Atom Feeds. Podcatchers or Podcast Clients, such as Apple’s iTunes, Google Reader etc, allow listeners to subscribe to your RSS / Atom feed and automatically download your content to their computers or portable media devices once it is online.
Before we begin Podcasting, we must understand some the terminology associated with it.
Some terminology we will cover:
- Podcatcher / Podcast Client
- Web Feed
Firstly, we must understand what the actually term “Podcast” means. A podcast (or non-streamed webcast) is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication. The mode of delivery differentiates podcasting from other means of accessing media files over the Internet, such as direct download, or streamed webcasting. A list of all the audio or video files currently associated with a given series is maintained centrally on the distributor’s server as a web feed, and the listener or viewer employs special client application software known as a podcatcher that can access this web feed, check it for updates, and download any new files in the series. This process can be automated so that new files are downloaded automatically. Files are stored locally on the user’s computer or other device ready for offline use, giving simple and convenient access to episodic content. Commonly used audio file formats are Ogg Vorbis and MP3. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast )
A podcatcher, or podcast client, is a computer program used to download various media via an RSS or XML feed. While podcatchers are mostly known for downloading podcasts (generally audio files in mp format), many are also capable of downloading video, newsfeeds, text, and pictures. When Apple added podcatching to its iTunes software in June of 2004, it almost immediately became the most popular client and development of many of the others slowed dramatically. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_podcatchers )
A web feed (or news feed) is a data format used for providing users with frequently updated content. Simply put: A web feed is a document (often XML-based) whose discrete content items include web links to the source of the content. News websites and blogs are common sources for web feeds, but feeds are also used to deliver structured information ranging from weather data to top-ten lists of hit tunes to search results. The two main web feed formats are RSS and Atom.
Content distributors syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe to it. Making a collection of web feeds accessible in one spot is known as aggregation, which is performed by an aggregator. A web feed is also sometimes referred to as a syndicated feed. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_feed)
RSS (most commonly expanded as Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship. Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favoured websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place. RSS feeds can be read using software called an “RSS reader”, “feed reader”, or “aggregator”, which can be web-based, desktop-based, or mobile-device-based. A standardized XML file format allows the information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. The user subscribes to a feed by entering into the reader the feed’s URL or by clicking an RSS icon in a web browser that initiates the subscription process. The RSS reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new work, downloads any updates that it finds, and provides a user interface to monitor and read the feeds.
RSS formats are specified using XML, a generic specification for the creation of data formats. Although RSS formats have evolved from as early as March 1999, it was between 200 and 200 when RSS gained widespread use, and the (“ “) icon was decided upon by several major Web browsers. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS )
The name Atom applies to a pair of related standards. The Atom Syndication Format is an XML language used for web feeds, while the Atom Publishing Protocol(AtomPub or APP) is a simple HTTP-based protocol for creating and updating web resources.
The Atom format was developed as an alternative to RSS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom_(standard)
XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a set of rules for encoding documents in machine-readable form. XML’s design goals emphasize simplicity, generality, and usability over the Internet. It is a textual data format, with strong support via Unicode for the languages of the world. Although XML’s design focuses on documents, it is widely used for the representation of arbitrary data structures, for example in web services.
There are many programming interfaces that software developers may use to access XML data, and several schema systems designed to aid in the definition of XMLbased languages.
As of 2009, hundreds of XML-based languages have been developed, which include RSS and Atom. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XML)
Resources for Teachers & Students
These may vary in suitability depending on age group.
Helpful resource on how to Podcast
Some useful tips from Apple
A step-by-step guide to Podcasting (click link at bottom of page)
A helpful step-by-step by guide to Podcasting
Another useful resource with many articles
Before we get started, we would like to make it clear that if you would like to publish Students’ podcasts online, the podcast must adhere to Copyright Law (i.e. if Podcasts contains audio / music owned by a third party, it may be in breach of Copyright Law and may not be distributed online).
Copyright is the set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. These rights can be licensed, transferred and/or assigned (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright). For more information, please view - http://www.wipo.int/clea/en/
You are able to purchase royalty-free loops and beats from the trakAx.com website. To learn more, please see – http://www.trakax.com/software/trakpacks/featured/.
Class Activity 1 – Planning and Research
When creating a successful Podcast, the most important part is Planning. Students should begin to research themes for their Podcast and decide on names for their Blog. They can also listen to some popular Podcasts that are available through iTunes or other Podcast sites. They should analyse what Podcasts are most effective. They might also discuss:
- What is the theme of the Podcast – Comedy, News, Music, Entertainment, Science etc.?
- Who is the target audience?
- How did it grab the audience’s attention?
After listening and analysing the Podcasts, student should begin to brainstorm and develop the theme of their podcast. They could write a few sentences on what the show will be about, who their audience will be and the objectives they wish to achieve.
Class Activity 2 – Pre-Production (Planning and Writing)
Students research topics for their Podcasts and decide on their theme.
Themes may include:
- Public Service – (Audio tour of school, News / Important Announcements, Youth Media, Law Enforcement)
- Education – (Recorded Lesson, Foreign Language Homework, Tutorials)
- Entertainment – (Comedy, Radio Show, Audio Book, Sports)
- News – (Daily News in School / International News Event)
- Music – (DJ Style cast where students discuss and introduce favourite songs, etc)
- Politics / Business – (Race for School / Class captain, Discuss Business Topic, etc)
They should have defined their target audience, the purpose of their Podcast and the result(s) they hope to achieve. Once these have been identified, students can begin to write their script.
These are basic guidelines that the students may follow:
- Begin writing their script. (Pay particular attention to communication of message)
- Introduction (Who they are, topics they will be discussing / purpose of show)
- Brief music intro (using an audio mp3 in trakAxPC)
- First Part (Student can discuss 3 – 4 main points)
- Interlude (music break)
- Second Part (Student can discuss another 3 - 4 points)
- Outro (Fade out of show using same music as intro)
You may want to set some guidelines for the students – such as a time limit of 5- 10 minutes per Podcast, each podcast must contain a voice-over and some audio (audio should only play for max 30 secs at a time).
Class Activity 3 – Production (Recording and Editing your Podcast)
Students begin to record in their Podcasts using trakAxPC and their microphones. They can also begin collecting any other media they may require such as audio for the intro, interlude and outro.
Here are some tips Students may find helpful as they record their Audio:
- Location is key to a good podcast. Try and find a room which is free from external noises. A room with a carpet and furniture which dampen and absorb noises and echoes would be helpful.
- You may wish to place a sign on the door explaining an audio recording is taking place and to please keep noise to a minimum.
- Use your normal voice. Sometimes people try and use a “radio voice”. Key is to stay relaxed and speak naturally.
- Do not speak to loudly into the microphone or sit to close it. Just use your regular conversational tone. You can pre-record some material to get the set up right. Try and keep volume levels constant throughout the recording process.
- Try and be expressive with your voice, using passion and emotion to emphasise your points.
Finally, enjoy yourself.
Begin recording in your audio.
- Once all points are recorded, students begin to edit and mix their recordings together. Students import and mix their audio for the intro, interlude and outro. Note – even though Podcasts seem like they are live, students can always go back and record a section if they are not happy with it. Students should try and keep volume levels constant throughout.
- Once Students have finished editing their mix in trakAxPC, click on the “Export” button in the Mixing Screen and select “MP3”.
- When exporting the Podcast (MP3), it is important to name the file correctly so it makes sense to your listeners. Once the MP3 is created, Students will need to upload the MP3 to a web hosting service.
Here is a great resource on the importance of correct files names:
For helpful tips on recording in from microphone using trakAxPC, please click on the following link:
Class Activity 4 – Uploading Podcast to Web Hosting Site.
Before your Podcast becomes live on the Internet, Students must first create a blog (which will provide them with a web address). Students will also have to find a web hosting site which will store their MP3 file and also create a RSS Feed so listeners can subscribe to and automatically download new episodes of Students podcasts.
As this lesson is for students, we are going to be using free services that will allow us to upload our Podcast. Note – these services provide limited features such as bandwidth, storage space and limited customisation. Podcasts may also take some time to upload and may not be immediately available on these sites.
If you have a Wordpress.org blog in your school, you can follow instructions here:
Follow these steps to create your Podcast.
Step 1: Using Blogger.com to create a Blog
Students sign up and log onto Blogger.com. Blogger will provide a web address and an area to upload and discuss your podcast. Students can also create their own customised page. When logged in, Students name their Blog (e.g. Student Name Podcast) and select a Template from the list provided.
Students will then be presented with a Dashboard where they can create their new post. Students create a new post and begin to enter a description of their Podcast.
Step 2: Web Hosting Service to host MP3
Once you have created your blog post, you will need to upload your MP3 to a file hosting service. There are many to choose from and some do cost money. Here is a list of some free ones: http://www.podcastready.com/ , http://www.podbean.com/, http://www.ourmedia.org/ , http://www.podomatic.com/featured.
You can choose any of the podcast hosting solutions outlined above. Once you have uploaded your MP3 podcast file to one of these sites, you will be provided with a link which you will require at a later stage in the process.
Step 3: Return to Blogger to add MP3 link and finish Blog
Students can now add their new MP3 link to Blogger (the Link provided from the file hosting service). To add your MP3 file in Blogger, create a text link, select it with the link tool, and enter the URL for your MP3 file.
When creating a Podcast in Blogger, there are a few tips that can help your show be discovered. Click on the “Settings” tab and select “Basic”. In the area named "Description", students should give a brief overview of the podcast theme. In the individual posts, give your podcast "tags" so that it can be easily found by your subscribers and listeners.
When you have finished adding your details, click “Publish” to see your blog post.
Step 4: Using FeedBurner.com to create RSS Feed
Finally, we must RSS enable the podcast / blog, so it can be read by the Web Feeds. To create the RSS feed, students should join FeedBurner which will convert their Blogger Atom feed into a RSS 2.0 feed - http://feedburner.google.com
Once Students have set-up an account on FeedBurner (you can use your Gmail account), they will need to make sure all feed traffic from their blog goes to their FeedBurner feed. Simply enter your new Blogger address into the section provided on the homepage in FeedBurner called “Your Blog or Feed Address” and click “Next”.
FeedBurner will automatically retrieve your Blogger Atom feed (note- all blogs automatically come installed with a feed) and then provide you with an options screen. Select the SmartCast option, and make sure that the Feed Title and Feed- Burner URI (at the bottom of the page) are satisfactory.
If you are happy with your Feed Title and FeedBurner URI, select “Next” and you will be prompted for a user id and password which students enter. Next, you are brought to a confirmation / welcome page.
You will be presented with your FeedBurner Burned URL. In this case, it may look something like this: http://feeds.feedburner.com/StudentName.
Click on “Activate my Feed” button.
Step 5: Listen to your Podcast
Your podcast is now available for subscription using many feed readers such as Google Reader, Yahoo Reader, FireFox Feed Reader, NetVibes and many more – simply add your FeedBurner URL to your “subscriptions” in your reader of choice.
Class Activity 5 – Adding Podcast to iTunes
Adding your Podcast to iTunes is a simple process:
Firstly, open the iTunes application. Click on the “iTunes Store” button located on the left hand menu bar. The iTunes Store will open. If Students do not have an iTunes account, they can create one here. If they have an account, simply sign in.
Once students have signed in, simply click “Podcast” either on the left hand side menu bar or on the menu bar at the top of screen, depending on which version of iTunes they are running.
When clicked, Students will be brought to the main Podcast page. Simply click on “Submit a Podcast” button located on the right of the screen (again depending on the version).
Enter the Podcast RSS Feed in the field provided and click “Continue”. (Students will be adding their FeedBurner Feed address – e.g. http://feeds.feedburner.com/StudentName).
Fill in the on-screen details and click “Submit”. Students will receive an email from iTunes confirming their submission.
And there you have it, your Podcast is live on iTunes ready to be listened to by millions of people.
Class Activity 6 – Review
Each group or student presents their Podcast and review the various decisions behind the project – theme chosen, sounds used, etc.
Peers can give their opinion on the various Podcasts and discuss what elements worked, what elements could be improved upon etc.
Students can submit a short written piece on what they have learned about the positive and negative effects of Podcasts in society, the process of creating a Podcast, the new skills they have developed, etc.
Fair Use of Copyrighted Material
If students are creating a reportage on a current or historical event, they most likely will want to use radio and video clips as well as photos that are copyrighted. However, if the distribution is purely within the classroom and will not be distributed outside the classroom, then the content is covered by the Fair Use Guidelines of Copyright.
Fair use is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as for commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use for more information.
Recording in from a Microphone
Recording in from a Microphone – students can record in their voice (podcast) or testimonials directly into trakAxPC Pro:
Creating a DJ style Podcast
Students can learn about volume, pan and pitch envelopes
Cleaning up Audio in trakAxPC
Adding Audio Effects
Saving the mix for future editing
Export the final mix to popular file formats