HEA Resources On Podcasting

One area which I think is worth some consideration at this stage in the CLL Project is the HEA’s wider existing resources on podcasting. During this project, I’ve looked at many websites trying to grasp general ideas, but have deliberately not focused in particularly on academic resources.

I recently attended the Higher Education Academy STEM Conference, and there were several debates there about how lecture recordings could be provided to students. Podcasts were discussed as a method, but really this just meant an audio recording of a lecture.

Personally, I don’t find that method particularly useful, since I feel that a podcast (or any form of audio training) should be produced exclusively for that medium. It also doesn’t really work for my delivery style, as it’s very rare that I give anything approaching a traditional lecture. My sessions tend to be in smaller groups and much more interactive.

One strength of recording lectures in this way that was discussed was that students noticed the imperfections and that helped them with their learning. For instance, they would attend a lecture, remember when a student had an outburst of coughing, and would recognise that in the recording, helping jog their memory.

Whether there is a psychological advantage would be an interesting area to explore further, but the general consensus of the academics in the room was that simple recordings of lectures are not the best way forward for most subjects.

I was also sent a link to a number of JISC resources on podcasting and associated topics, with particular mention of accessibility. There are certainly some interesting papers there.

I must confess that I haven’t developed this series of podcasts with accessibility in mind from the start. One reason is that the information is all available in a visual format as well (the original PowerPoint slides), which act as an overview and summary. I certainly can see a benefit to having summaries alongside podcasts (if not, full transcripts) and that should be feasible for many types of podcasts, not just the simple one-person presentations liked I’ve produced.

An alternative view of accessibility presented in one of the papers is that these can be a bonus to students who need to review different materials. A recommendation is made for shorter podcasts, or longer lectures to be edited into chunks, which I think agrees with the ethos I’ve taken in my own recordings.

Some of the feedback from the papers suggests that students need a lot of reminding to listen to podcasts, even if these are produced to convey crucial information, such as feedback on assessments. They also stressed the need for them to be presented enthusiastically and with high quality audio. I hope I’ve managed to do that, and certainly plan to prominently position the podcasts in my own modules next year (although they will be treated as supplementary/review material – and they are not there to replace regular teaching).


Podcasts Showing On iTunes

The podcast feed has been accepted and the podcasts are starting to show up iTunes.

Here’s what a the page on iTunes looks like when you subscribe to the podcasts with most of them visible:

List of podcasts in iTunes shown for subscribers

And here’s the iTunes preview if you’re thinking about subscribing.

iTunes previous page for Professional Online Presences podcasts

It is currently showing the wrong number of episodes, but I understand that iTunes corrects itself over time.

The previous page, and the link to more information in iTunes itself, can be found at:


Submitting The Podcasts To iTunes

What a challenge!

I’m at the stage now with a full set of podcasts all recorded as MP3 files.

But it has taken a full day of technical challenges to get the feed (which currently contains the first podcast) submitted to iTunes.

Here’s the process I’ve been through.

I set up another WordPress installation on the server, with a small amount of information, installed the usual plugins and spent quite a while on the server .htaccess to make this play nice with this current blog.

Then I installed podPress and created a post with my first podcast. Lots of settings to get right.

Some information about the podcast series set up for the iTunes feed in podPress

After that, I went to my existing iTunes account and tried to get it to accept my feed. Several of the feeds produced by podPress would not validate, and nothing would go through iTunes.

Went through lots of forum questions with people having their own set of problems.

Eventually got it working after moving around many settings and going for the most basic feed (the blog url with just /feed afterwards).

Now to wait and see if iTunes will accept the podcast, after which I will put the rest live.

I’ve decided not to link to the blog, as it’s mainly there just for hosting and I have different plans for making resources for Professional Online Presences available through the main site.

At this stage, I can’t recommend self-hosting and podPress as the best way to put up podcasts, as so much depends on technical expertise and seems server specific. And, I haven’t even scratched the surface with this one (simple podcasts, no traffic and statistics recording etc).

On the positive side, I’ll personally feel more comfortable setting things up if I do a follow-on series of podcasts, so this has been a useful (if frustrating) learning experience.

Producing The First Podcast In The Series

I wanted to provide an update about the process I used to record the first podcast.

I’ve found that I worked well with two monitors. The first monitor, I had the slides opened. The second monitor, the comments I’d made about where I wanted to talk about the podcast series as a whole and deviate from the original slides.

Here are the notes I made to work from on the second monitor.

Rough plan used to record the podcast

The recording used Camtasia, converted to an MP3 audio. It took me a few goes to get going how I wanted, but in the end, I went for a version created in a single take.

I didn’t exactly stick to the order on the slides, or in the accompanying notes, but I found these to be an excellent pointer to make sure that everything necessary got included, and to make the repurposing as efficient as possible.

Two things to work on now. First of all, recording the other podcasts in the series, and second, getting everything to work with iTunes. I’ll probably do these in parallel.