Getting Lectures on iTunes
With the recent release of iTunes allowing for easy subscription to podcasts, people have started to list lectures. This seems simple but there are several issues that have made things confusing. I’ll point these out here to save you time if you are thinking of doing the same thing. Also if I am missing something please leave me a comment.
- iTunes Lecture category. I saw Amy Bellinger’s post on the new category of Courses and Lectures in iTunes and it looked like that was the place to put your lecture podcasts. However that category is not listed in the drop down menu at Feedburner (more on this later), nor is it in the iTunes menu by navigating through Music Store -> Podcasts -> Browse. The only way to get to it is the way Amy did it in her screenshot in her post, on the home page. I have seen it on the home page but it seems to have disappeared in the past few days. From my conversation with Michelle Francl, who did get her course listed under Courses and Lectures, she did not make a special request. So it appears that the iTunes staff is selecting courses to highlight in this ephemeral category. The bottom line is that this is not a reliable way to tell your students how to find your course. What will work is to have it listed under Education->Higher Ed.
- Getting your feed ready for iTunes. If you are using Feedburner to create your podcast, they have recently added the capability of formatting your feed under the SmartCast option so that it is compliant with iTunes. If you try to submit your feed without proper formatting it will cause trouble. What happens is that iTunes will take your feed submission and it will never get listed. There is no feedback to tell you there is a problem. Then if you do fix your feed iTunes will refuse it because you already submitted it! I did this for one of my classes and I ended up emailing iTunes. They fixed it after a few days.
- You have to use your credit card to submit a feed. I found this one a little counter-intuitive and it took me a while to understand that there is no other way to do it. If you want to submit a feed you have to join iTunes. And that means you have to submit your credit card information. They won’t charge anything on your card but I really hate having to give out that kind of information when I am not buying anything.
- Skipped episodes. Some podcasters were complaining that some episodes were being skipped because of the default settings on prior versions of iTunes. However this problem was resolved in version 5.0, which defaults to Check Every Hour and Download All.
- Back episodes. If you want your students to not miss any of your lectures, make sure they click on the triangle next to the feed in iTunes and click on every back episode. I have a 30 second screencast showing how to do this.
- How to subscribe to unlisted podcasts. If you are using a little orange XML icon to indicate your podcast feed, students can just drag that icon into iTunes and it will subscribe automatically. That is better than having to copy urls and will give you a way of enabling subscriptions while waiting for your course to appear in the iTunes directory.