The Missing (Podcasting) Link

Now that I have spent a couple of weeks producing podcasts for my IST 110 class this semester I am realizing this isn’t as easy as it should be. Don’t get me wrong, the podcasting studio in GarageBand has been a quantum leap forward, but at the end of the day it still feels a hell of a lot more like a pro application than a consumer one. When I look at the podcast value chain (excuse my use of that term here), I see Apple really wanting to own the whole thing — inbound right through outbound. In my mind there are three pieces to the podcasting chain:

  1. Creation – the art of putting one of these things together … even though GarageBand is easy, it is still hard for normal people. Try asking a typical teacher/faculty member to get all that gear ready, hook up a mic, handle the post production, and everything in between … just not going happen. Maybe a couple of the steps, but not all of them.
  2. Storage and Indexing – The ability to move the raw podcast to a server to be served to the masses. This means not only getting it up to a space, but also making sure all the meta data is accurate and that it has some sort of searchable context associated with it. It is one of the reasons why I love using the blog as a vehicle for this. Each post can act as the holder of the podcast episode (if its a class, talk, whatever). iTunes U does this.
  3. Delivery – Once you’ve gotten through the whole creation, storage, and indexing you can now deliver these things via some sort of RSS enclosure. Again, the blog works perfectly for this as the RSS gets written for you and your audience can easily get these things using any pod catching software … again iTunes U or even just iTunes does this well.

So in my world, the last two are actually a hell of a lot easier to overcome than the first. Sort of strange that what appears to be the most technically challenging aspects of this are handled either by really easy to use open source tools (blogs) or by Apple’s new iTunes U service. Now, back to creation …

When I do a podcast for class, I record as I present in GarageBand … easy enough, but I do a ton of editing after the fact … by a ton I mean it is taking me at least 1.5 times as long to edit as it did for me to record it. I take my Keynote slides and export them to the desktop, import them into iPhoto, pull them onto the GarageBand timeline, do my mix down, share it to iTunes, upload the file, write the blog post, and link it all up … the software handles the feed for me.

It sort of dawned on me today that Apple might be missing the boat with one of its killer apps — Keynote. If Keynote had the podcast studio in it I would be done the second class ended … It would be amazing if, since my presentation is built around a set of slides, Keynote itself managed the recording and syncing of all that stuff. I could walk in, put on my mic, click a “Play and Record Keynote” button in the app itself, do my presentation, and when finished, just click publish. In our classrooms, there isn’t any time after the class to mess with stuff at the podium … the next class is on its way in and the next professor is anxiously waiting to log into the machine … if you make it all happen with a click to start and a click to publish it is a no-brainer. Value chain complete.

Anyone out there want to comment on that? Am I missing something or are we missing one of the biggest pieces to this whole podcasting from the podium revolution? I know here at Penn State we are struggling most with how to capture that event … not the publishing and sharing part … just the first step. Damn, and they just revved Keynote … maybe in iWork ’07?

Update: Could ProfCast be the answer?  We shall see this weekend.

8 thoughts on “The Missing (Podcasting) Link

  1. Well? Did you have a chance to try ProfCast out? I am interested in your thoughts, impressions, hopes etc… We are working on version 1.2 currently, which we hope to integrate with Garage Band and iWeb for better post processing (along with several additional improvements) and would love to hear your feedback! Drop us a line eh?


    Founder of Humble Daisy, Inc.
    Makers of ProfCast

  2. I’d like to hear your review of ProfCast, too! I note it has the ability to create an enhanced podcast with chapters and synced images – something I have been wanting to try for awhile.

    I think you are correct. We are missing a link that makes production easy.

    In my own situation, I want to create some software demonstrations for my Intro to Computer Graphics course. I teach a face to face version, and an online version. The online students would love a video demo rather than having to read written instructions for everything. The face to face students have actually requested online demos they can access from home when doing their homework.

    My workflow equation for this is not easy. In my case, PowerPoint or Keynote plus ProfCast might work, but I would still have to make screen shots of the software techniques and put them in a presentation. What I really need is to record what’s happening on the screen. Captivate will do that but only publish it as a swf file – and I have no tool to convert that the the m4v format preferred for podcast video. I can break out the video camera, but then need to go in and edit quite a bit.

    As you said, asking a typical teacher to deal with all this gear is not realistic. Not to mention learning different software, converting file formats they barely understand, etc. I think it’s also unrealistic to ask them to spend this much extra time on top of course preparation and their other duties.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post. I’m keeping my eye out for the “easy button.”

  3. I’ll do a full on review this weekend … I’ve now had time to tear into the software as well as talk to the developer — thanks David! I still think we are a step or two away from this being the “easy button” solution … I’ll do my best to shed some light on what we are doing at PSU — new developments — and take a good look at the ProfCast … BTW, so far it is the best solution out there.

  4. I came across your site in my attempts to figure out how I can podcast using wordpress 2.0. I too am creating podcasts in Garageband and am wondering how I can get the m4a format to work with all the chapter markers with the pictures on my blog. I am new to this and when I uploaded the file to my server and went to the right address, I get a full page of code. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  5. When using the m4a format (enhanced podcasts), the best bet is to save the files to your desktop and move them to iTunes. iTunes can handle the m4a format without issue, but for the most part, the browser just decodes it and you see a bunch of code like you saw. I have clicked on them and had them play in the browser via QuickTime, but that doesn’t always seem to work. The best bet is to get people to subscribe to the podcast RSS feed … I do it here at my blog via the “itpc://” link … here is my feed done that way:


    Clicking that auto subscribes a user to the feed in iTunes and all is well. I hope that helps!

  6. Thanks for the help! Yeah, I guess that itunes would be the best way being that you don’t have to mess with anything. I just wish that there was some way that you could have the audio recording actually in your blog post so that people wouldnt have to click a link to watch/listen nor go to itunes; they would be able just to press play in a blog post and listen to your podcast/audioblog. So I guess the next step for me is to get a separate feed for my podcasts so that people can subscribe to them. I have been doing some research, but I am not sure how to go about this. Any help you could offer to get me started would be great. Thanks for you help so far!

  7. Pingback: ProfCast Thoughts … The Podcast at Cole Camplese: Learning & Innovation

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