Frequently Asked Questions

What is podcasting?

Podcasting is a way to distribute multimedia files such as audio or video over the Internet, using either the RSS or Atom syndication format, for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. “Podcast” can refer to both the content and the method of delivery. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster. While podcasters’ Web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of files, a unique feature of podcasts is that they can be downloaded automatically using software capable of reading RSS feeds. The term podcasting comes from “iPod” and “broadcasting.”

What is a podcatcher?

A podcatcher is an application you can use to subscribe to podcasts; the podcatcher automatically downloads podcasts as they are posted to a site. Podcatchers can also transfer downloaded podcast files to a portable media player (e.g., an iPod).

A podcatcher is a special type of news aggregator; while news aggregators retrieve several types of syndicated web content (e.g., blog entries or the latest content posted to a commercial site, as well as podcasts), podcatchers are geared specifically toward podcasts.

Apple’s iTunes is an example of a podcatcher is available as a free download for Windows and Mac operating systems.

What is iTunes?

iTunes is free software available for both Macintosh and Windows operating systems. With iTunes, you can:

  • Listen to CDs: iTunes will play your music CDs like a regular CD player.
  • Import music from your CDs: iTunes can import (or rip) music from your CDs. You can import in AAC (the codec underlying MP4), MP3, AIFF, WAV, or Apple Lossless Encoder formats. The music will then be stored on your hard drive for access anytime. Note: IPFW does not condone importing or trading music from CDs you do not personally own. To do so is a violation of US copyright law.
  • Listen to and view podcasts: Through the iTunes Store, you can search for and subscribe to podcasts. Whenever you open iTunes, the latest episodes of these free audio and video programs will download automatically to your iTunes Library.
  • Buy music and videos online: Through the iTunes Store, you can purchase music, audiobooks, movies, and episodes of television shows.
  • Create playlists: Once you have stored your music on your hard drive, you can play it in any order you like by creating a playlist. You can organize your music according to artist, album, or song title as well.
  • Burn CDs or DVDs: iTunes can burn your files to a CD or DVD. Once you have created your playlists, you can create your own CD with a CD-RW drive, or DVD with a DVD-R drive. The most recent versions of iTunes support some external CD-RW and DVD-R drives. Consult Apple’s and the manufacturer’s documentation to see if your drive is supported.
  • Synchronize with your iPod, iPod Touch, or iPhone: When you plug in your iPod, iTunes will synchronize automatically at high speeds over FireWire or USB 2.0.
  • Export to a non-Apple MP3 player: You can export your playlists to a non-Apple commercial MP3 player through USB or USB 2.0. To upload files, drag them to the MP3 player icon.
  • Listen to Internet radio: iTunes features a built-in Internet radio tuner that will find Internet radio stations by genre.
  • Play movie trailers: You can view movie trailers available on Apple’s web site. To do so, search the iTunes Music Store from within iTunes, or visit Apple’s Movie Trailers page.
  • Convert music to a different format: After you have imported your music files into iTunes, you can convert them to a different format (e.g., MP3 to AAC or WAV to MP3).
  • Listen to music shared across the network: You can choose to make your Library available to other iTunes users on your local network, and you can likewise access others’ iTunes playlists. The available playlists appear in iTunes automatically.
  • Visualize your music: iTunes includes a music visualizer that plays a light show along with the music.
What is an RSS feed?

In the context of podcasts, an RSS feed is an online content information stream that 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 such as iTunes, then that user will receive automatic content updates from the source of that content. For example, if a user subscribes to the RSS feed of a daily news podcast, then each day the podcatcher program will automatically download the newest podcast, eliminating the need for the user to check that news site each day to manually download the latest offering. And with a podcatcher program like iTunes, a user can subscribe to numerous RSS feeds simultaneously.

How do I subscribe and listen to or watch podcasts?

To access podcast content from the IPFW on iTunes U, follow these steps:

  1. Access IPFW on iTunes U at:
  2. To locate the podcast in which you’re interested, browse the topic and category channels. When you find the podcast you want, click its title or corresponding icon to access the list of available episodes.
  3. To download an individual episode, click Download next to the appropriate episode.
  4. To subscribe to a podcast, click Subscribe near the top of the podcast’s page. After making your choice, the most recent episode will download.

To receive automatic updates whenever new episodes are available, subscribe to a podcast’s RSS feed. To do so, right-click the RSS icon (the orange box with white “waves”), copy the podcast RSS URL into your clipboard, and then paste it into your preferred podcatcher application.

Note: Web browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari, will attempt to render the podcast portal’s RSS URL. Because of differences between the browsers, the resulting display will look different from browser to browser. Many podcatchers, including iTunes, offer the option of downloading all previous episodes of a podcast, which can be useful for “catching up” with the podcast, as many podcasts tend to build on previous episodes. After you are subscribed to a podcast in your podcatcher, any future episodes will automatically download onto your computer, provided that you are connected to the Internet at the time the program updates. Many podcatchers offer the option to update on demand, if you’re not connected to the Internet when the program is normally set to run.

What is a vodcast?

A vodcast is a podcast that contains video content. The term vodcast comes from the combination of the words “video” and “podcast.” Video podcasts may also be referred to as “vidcasts.” In order to watch a vodcast, you need a podcatcher capable of playing video (such as iTunes).

How do I make my podcast?

There are numerous tools available that make podcasting simple and accessible. Free audio software like Audacity and Apple’s GarageBand enable 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 to Windows Movie Maker and Jaycut.

How does copyright law apply to podcasting?

Copyright protections extend to podcasts just as they do to any other digital media. You must observe copyright law when creating and posting podcasts, and your creations are also protected. For more information about copyright, refer to the Helmke Library Copyright Information page.

Can I use Audacity to create my podcasts?

Yes, Audacity is an audio editor and recorder (available as a free download) for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux that you can use to create podcast episodes.

To record a podcast episode using Audacity, be sure you have the following:

  • An application that will allow you to export recordings in the .mp3 file format. The LAME MP3 encoder is available as a free download.
  • An internal microphone or a microphone connected to the microphone-in connection on your computer
  • A set of headphones connected to the headphone jack of your computer

To ensure sound levels are adequate, do a sound check:

  1. To turn on monitoring, click the microphone icon.
  2. Speak into the microphone.
  3. Watch the red bar; it should extend almost all the way to the right. If red barely appears in the grey bar, move the input volume slider to the right. If a solid red often covers the entire grey bar, move the slider to the left.

Note: If your sound levels are not adequate, you may need to adjust your computer’s sound and speech levels from within your Control Panel (Windows) or System Preferences (Macintosh).

To record and export your podcast episode, follow these steps:

  1. Click the red circle (“Record”) and speak clearly into your microphone. As the podcast is recorded, you will see the recorded sound display in a single audio track that reflects the sound wave patterns.
  2. When you’re finished, click the yellow square (“Stop”).
  3. Make any desired edits to your project. For information about editing, refer to the Audacity tutorials, reference guides, and manuals. Note: While working on your project, be sure to save it occasionally so you can return to it to make edits. You will not be able to edit the exported .mp3 file; instead, save the project as the default .aup file.
  4. To export the recording, from the File menu, select Export As MP3... . Name the file, choose a location, and click Save. Note: If a dialog box appears asking if you would like to locate lame_enc.dll (Windows) or LameLib (Macintosh), click Yes.
  5. Locate the file you downloaded from LAME and click Open.
  6. In the dialog box that appears, you can save information about the recording. Type a title and any other information you’d like to save with the file. Click OK.
Can I use GarageBand to create my podcasts?

Yes. Before recording a podcast episode using GarageBand, be sure you have an internal microphone or microphone connected to the microphone-in connection on your computer. It’s also good practice to have a set of headphones connected to the headphone jack of your computer so you can hear the audio as it will sound in the finished podcast episode. To record a podcast episode using GarageBand, follow these steps:

  1. Open GarageBand, and in the window that appears, choose New Podcast Episode.
  2. In the Save As dialog box, give the podcast episode a name.
  3. On the left, click the icon next to either “Male Voice” or “Female Voice.” Your selection will be confirmed under “Track” below.
  4. To ensure sound levels are adequate, speak into the microphone. Watch the green bars that appear next to the Voice option you selected. If the green bars don’t move clear across, or they frequently bounce into the red, adjust the volume of your voice or adjust the GarageBand settings. Note: If your sound levels are not adequate, you may need to adjust your computer’s sound and speech levels from within your System Preferences.
  5. To begin recording, click the red button, and then speak clearly into your microphone.
  6. To stop recording, click the red button again. The waveforms of the recorded sound will be displayed in the “Timeline” area of the GarageBand window.
  7. To add music or sound effects to the episode, from the Control menu, select Loop Browser, and then drag a sound clip to the “Jingles” or “Radio Sounds” track.
  8. To add an additional track, from the Track menu, select New Track.
  9. To listen to the recording, either drag the playhead to the beginning of the track, or click one of the backward arrow buttons (“Go to the beginning of the song.” or “Move back one measure.”), and then click the forward arrow button (“Start or stop playback.”).
  10. To add photos or video to the episode, from the Control menu, select Media Browser, and then choose a file from under “Photos” or “Movies.”
  11. To add podcast metadata, select “Podcast Track.” If the “Episode Info” box isn’t visible (in the bottom right), from the Track menu, select Show Track Info. In the “Episode Info” box, edit your podcast episode’s “Title,” “Artist,” and “Parental Advisory,” and enter a “Description.“
  12. To add album art, drag an image to the “Episode Artwork:” box in the lower left.
  13. To export the project as a podcast file, from the Share menu, select Send to iTunes. iTunes will open and prepare your podcast for playback.

Apple provides several online tutorials for GarageBand.

Where can I get help on campus with creating podcasts?

Currently IPFW offers support and training for podcast creation through the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT). In addition, technology resources are available through IPFW’s Studio T2 for faculty and Studio M for students. For more information on training, email Samantha Birk.

What are minimum system requirements for using IPFW on iTunes U?

IPFW recommends the following minimum system requirements for using IPFW on iTunes U:

  • Broadband Internet connection
  • Supported browsers:
    • Windows: Internet Explorer 6 or later, Mozilla Firefox 2 or later, Safari 2 or later, or Google Chrome
    • Mac: Safari 2 or later, Mozilla Firefox 2 or later
  • Audio speakers or headphones; required for listening to podcasts
  • iTunes: required for subscribing to podcasts. iTunes for Mac OS X or Windows is available for free from Apple’s Download iTunes page.
  • Portable media player; required for portable listening or watching (e.g., iPod, or another media player that supports MP3 and MP4). Note: To host or manage your podcasts using IPFW on iTunes U, you must first request an account by emailing Samantha Birk.

Secondary Content

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