Podcasting refers to Portable On Demand broadcasting of digital media files. The media files are organized as links within a machine-readable syndication format or RSS feed, traditionally used for news and blogging. This news feed acts as a kind of shipping or travel manifest describing a sequence of large linked media files, which the user can then decide to download. more...

Typically there are three types of podcasts:

  1. audio files
  2. mixed format (audio + image) files
  3. video files, which are sometimes called vodcasts.

Podcasts can be produced by hand coding the syndication information about a series of digital files (called the metadata) into an RSS feed or using all-in-one software like Apple's 'Garageband'. Creating podcasts at the Apple website.

A podcast may contain links to media files of any kind, from a Powerpoint presentation to a CAD file; however, only media files which are large enough to require a kind of 'preview' catalogue typically get packaged in this way. The application iTunes (free for PC and Mac) is a really great way to explore podcasts with your home computer; moreover, it links to Apple's organized directory of podcasts. iTunes operates essentially as a kind of enhanced media-only internet content browser. Hyperlinks which are intended to be viewed in iTunes or a podcast application rather than your web browser start with "itpc://" instead of ''http://".

Lectures which are podcasted can be organized into chapters. Here is a screen shot of iTunes, displaying a podcast made in 2006-2007 from the Faculty Lecture Series.

Screen shot of iTunes Podcasting window, displaying Faculty Lecture Series


Some universities have created portals within iTunes from which to present public podcasts, a project called iTunes U. The first of these was Stanford University, and a number of other universities followed, including Queen's University.

U of T is presently considering an iTunes portal, here's a prototype screen shot:

Screen shot preview of UT iTunes portal

For more information about recording of instructional materials or producing podcasts, please contact Brian Sutherland [b.sutherland@utoronto.ca] or Adon Irani at [adon.irani@utoronto.ca].