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Monday, September 26, 2005

Podcasting PDFs with MP3s with iTunes

Looking at the Higher Education category of iTunes, audio recordings of university lectures are starting to be made available to the public by podcast. This is definitely a step in the right direction. However, many lectures are difficult to follow without the visual component of the presentation.

Whenever possible, I have always provided links in my blogs to both PDF or PPT files that accompany the lecture, in addition to streaming screencasts. This was probably fine for students taking my class because their primary resource was the blog. However, people finding my podcast through iTunes will not find the source blog as easily. (It is given in the podcast description but that is not obvious).

To fix this problem, I have reworked my CHEM 241 class podcast to include the corresponding PDF just underneath the MP3. I did this for back episodes by copying the link to the PDF into a new post and changing the date in Blogger. Running the feed through Feedburner then created a podcast with MP3 and PDF files next to each other.

It turns out iTunes does a pretty good job of displaying PDFs. They appear as little book icons that can be left clicked to view or right clicked to save on the desktop.

It would seem that this would be a good way to distribute other files, such as PPT (Powerpoint). However, iTunes is very selective in the file types it allows and PPT does not appear to be supported at this time. Other podcatchers do not have this limitation. For example, iPodder handles PPT. This is an example of why we need to be careful about using iTunes as sole distribution mechanism.

This is what the podcast of my class now looks like in iTunes:


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