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Getting Started

Producing and publishing a podcast is straightforward and can make use of software and hardware that is readily available.

The steps involved are summarised in Table 2.

Table 2: Creating and publishing a podcast

1 Create and edit audio recording

2 Save the recording as a MP3 file

3 Upload the MP3 file onto an Internet server

4 Publish a RSS feed with the podcast as an enclosure

Podcasting uses a XML-based technology called RSS (Really Simple Syndication), which is being used on more and more websites to provide ready access to information. Various organisations use this approach to provide a list of new content or information items in a XML or RSS file. Either of these terms will be used on websites to indicate the presence of a RSS feed, often in the form of a graphic such as those shown below.

xml/rss graphic

The BBC, for example, provides a range RSS feeds on different topics for regularly updated news items (see Table 3 below). A wide range of information can be provided in RSS feeds - including channels, dates, titles and descriptions. Recently, an extension to XML was introduced which allowed for "enclosures"; basically, these provide information about an enclosed file and location. Using MP3 files as enclosures in XML or RSS files has been the spur to the evolution of podcasting.
 

Table 3: List of RSS feeds published on the BBC website

News Front Page

Business

Have a Say

World

Politics

Magazine

UK

Health Week

At a Glance

England

Education

Programmes

Northern Ireland

Science/Nature

 

Scotland

Technology

 

Wales

Entertainment

 


A range of software has existed for a while that allows computers to read and display the contents of RSS feeds (XML format). This approach to reading published "headlines" is rapidly gaining popularity. The user is able to quickly scan and locate information (if published) without having to trawl numerous website pages. With the advent of enclosures, a range of podcast software has been written to read podcasts. These are readily available on the Internet and software can be downloaded and installed for different computer operating systems. A good point of reference for information about such software is www.ipodder.org.

Once downloaded to the computer, the podcast (in the form of a MP3 file) can be listened to at any time. In addition, the podcast can be transferred to a MP3 player; thus, making the podcast available on demand, anywhere at anytime. The steps for locating and listening to podcasts is summarised in Table 4.

Table 4: Subscribe and listen to a podcast

1 Locate and subscribe to a podcast feed (XML/RSS)

2 Select and listen to the podcast on-line, or

3 Download and listen to the podcast, and

4 Transfer the podcast to a MP3 player


For some schools, the prospect of downloading, installing and using this kind of software may prove problematic or undesirable. Podcasting for Education is an informative resource about educational podcasting in general.

There is another alternative - a small number of websites are dedicated to providing a listing service for podcasts. For example, our own podcast directory for educators provides carefully selected quality podcasts from schools and covering a wide range of subject areas and age ranges. InformED lists information about 50 educational podcasts which, in their opinion, are worthy of looking at from the many that exist on the world wide web.

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Creating and listening to podcasts