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Podcasting and iTunes U

The instructional use of podcasts has increasingly become a more common practice in higher education during the past few years. The distribution of audio content on the internet however is neither new technology nor a new practice. What is unique about podcasting is the ease with which content can be created, distributed and accessed by users. Podcasting takes advantage of a technology called Really Simple Syndication (RSS) which permits users to subscribe to podcasts and receive automatic updates each time a new episode is published to the web.  At VCU, you can use the VCU iTunes University to distribute your podcasts or load them directly into Blackboard.

Some potentially valuable instructional uses of podcasting in higher education include delivery of:

  • Lecture recordings
  • Supplementary course content
  • Interviews and panel discussions
  • Conference proceedings
  • Unit summaries
  • Student generated content

Getting Started


To get started, you will need to download iTunes from Apple's website. It is a free download and available for both Windows and Mac. Once you have downloaded and installed iTunes, you can access iTunes U by clicking one of the two buttons above.

Within VCU iTunes U, you can explore categories such as VCU News, VCU Sports, or course-specific downloads by clicking the icon or title of the area that interests you. There are several ways to download files.

  • To download an individual file, click the Get or Get Movie button on the rightmost column for the file you want to download.

  • To download all current files for a specific course or category, click Get Tracks at the top of the page.

  • To automatically download any future files for a specific category, click Subscribe at the top of the page. This will add the category to your Podcasts in iTunes.


Now that you have all these files to listen to (or watch), how do you make the most of them? The good news is that it's as easy as double clicking a file if you don't mind listening to it at your computer. (You'll need speakers or headphones, of course.) But what if you'd rather listen to it elsewhere?

  • If you have a CD or DVD recorder installed on your computer, you can create playlists and burn them as audio CDs.
  • If you have an iPod or iPhone, you can set it up to automatically download your files.
  • With an Apple TV, you can watch or listen to your music and videos on your computer from the comfort of your couch.
  • Not an Apple fan? There are other ways of getting the files out of iTunes and into your music library in Windows Media Player or other programs. Most (if not all) files created on-campus are not protected by DRM so you should have no trouble exporting them to other software programs to listen to.

While all of the files on iTunes U are available free to students, faculty, staff, and others for use and reuse, please keep in mind that they still retain the copyright of the university and the individual professors or departments that created them. Files downloaded from VCU's iTunes U may not be republished or remixed without express consent from their creators.

The CTE offers two workshops to assist faculty members with exploring the use of podcasting technology to support teaching and learning: Introduction to Podcasting and Creating Podcasts for Instruction.


Virginia Commonwealth University  |  Center for Teaching Excellence
Last updated: 09/22/2009
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