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Podcasting in Blackboard

A podcast offers a way for individuals to selectively subscribe to audio or video content over the Internet. Subscribing to a podcast is free as the term “subscription” refers to signing-up for new episodes rather than paying for content. The content that an individual subscribes to can then be automatically downloaded for viewing on a computer or a mobile device. Notification of new content is automatic, as the subscriber need not manually revisit a specific Web site to download new content.

In conjunction with the upgrade to Blackboard version 7.1, NIU has installed a building block to Blackboard that now allows faculty to easily create a course podcast in Blackboard. Details are provided below concerning the process of creating a course podcast using Blackboard.

**NOTICE OF CURRENT ISSUE WITH PODCASTING TOOL** 

NIU's podcasting tool, the open source OSCELOT Podcaster building block, has yet to be upgraded to be compatible with Blackboard 9.1. The open source community who has developed the building block is working to upgrade the building block to be compatible with the latest version of Blackboard.

UPDATE: The source of incompatibility has been identified and confirmed by Blackboard as of 8/17/2011, and a fix is in progress.

Preparing Audio or Video Files

To prepare your audio and video files, it is best to compress them as large files take longer to download take up more space on mobile devices. In naming your file, do not use any unusual characters (e.g. backslashes) or spaces. The following file formats are supported by podcasting:

  • .m4a
  • .mp3
  • .mov
  • .mp4
  • .m4v
  • .pdf

Uploading Podcast Episodes

After preparing the podcast episode file(s), the next step is to upload them to Blackboard. First, decide which content area within the Blackboard course to upload the file(s) to e.g. Course Documents. Login into your course and go to your Control Panel. In the Content Areas section select Course Documents.

Blackboard control panel content area with course document button highlighted

On the follwoing screen in the top navigation bar click on the drop-down box next to Select and choose Podcast Episode.

course documents screen with podcast episode selected from drop down box

Hit Go.

go button next to drop down box highlighted

The Modify Podcast Episode screen appears. Under Episode Information enter the desired title and description for the podcast episode being added.

modify podcast episode screen with title and description of podcast entered

In the Podcast Media section click on the Browse button next to the Attach local file field to find the file on your computer. Alternatively, if you have a web link to the podcast episode (ie: the media file is hosted on a server outside of Blackboard), enter the URL in the Link to an external URL field.

modify podcast episode screen with browse button highlighted next to attach local file field

If desiring to also attach a local file with the podcast episode, a Choose file screen will open. Browse for the file, select it and click Open. *Note - attachments to a podcast episode can only be viewed in Blackboard as they are not syndicated with the episodes for automated downloading.

     choose file screen with audio file selected and open button highlighted

The file path now appears in the Attach local file field.

modify podcast episode screen with file name appearing in attach local file field

If you have an accompanying document such as a PowerPoint presentation or a PDF file that your students can utilize with the podcast episode, you can add it in the Attachments section. Click on the Browse button to locate the file on your computer.

modify podcast episode screen with browse button highlighted next to attachment 1 field

The Choose file screen will appear again. Locate the file on your computer, select it and click "Open.

     choose file screen with document and open button highlighted

Add the title of the document you want to attach to the podcast episode in the Link name field next to the file path.

modify podcast episode with podcast title entered into the link name field

Click Submit.

modify podcast episode screen with submit button highlighted

You have now added your podcast episode to the Course Documents area. Verify that the episode is functional by clicking on Listen. Also, check that the accompanying attachment link is correct and functional.

course documents screen with podcast episode added

Enabling the RSS Feed

To allow students to subscribe to your course podcast to have acces to all episodes, you will have to create an RSS feed in Blackboard. Access the Control Panel in your course and select Manage Podcast from the Course Tools section.

control panel course tools area with manage podcast button highlighted

In the Manage Podcast area enter the feed title and a brief description of it.

manage podcast screen with feed title and description added

You can assign a category to your podcast for iTunes. This is an optional step, adding metadata to your podcast that if you desire to submit your podcast to iTunes be included in the iTunes podcast search engine allows iTunes users to search for podcasts by subject matter. You can also add an image as album art to your podcast. This image will appear as the Album cover associated with your podcast in iTunes. To do this click on the Browse button next to the Add Album Art field..

manage podcast screen with category field filled and add album art field highlighted

The Choose file screen will appear again. Locate the file on your computer, select it and click Open. The optimal size for album art is 300 x 300 pixels.

     choose file screen with album art image file selected and open button highlighted

Most importantly, determine whether to make your feed only accessible to the users of your course or to the public. Select Everyone in the Options section in the Manage Podcast area in order to enable Blackboard to create an RSS feed for your course podcast.

manage podcasts screen options section with everyone selected for feed visibility

Click Submit and Ok. You have now created the feed for your podcast.

manage podcast screen submit button highlighted

Student Access to Blackboard Course Podcast Episodes

If you have not enabled an RSS feed for your podcast, students have to manually login to Blackboard to access the episodes. Enabling the creation of the RSS feed allows students to subscribe via a feed aggregator such as the free iTunes. In order to subscribe to the feed, students can access the Podcast tool via the Tools button in the course navigation menu.

course navigation menu with tools button highlighted

In the Tools area, they will have to click the Podcast button.

podcast button in tools area

In the Podcast area, they can view the information about the podcast, including the feed URL, the description and the album art. They will also see a listing of all the episodes you have made available to them and the accompanying attachments. With the RSS and iTunes button students can subscribe to your podcast.

podcast screen with podcast feed URL highlighted, subscribe buttons highlighted and episode attachment highlighted

Recent Podcasts Module

Blackboard also allows course users to display the most recent podcasts for any of their courses on their Blackboard homepage. To add the Recent Podcasts module, click on the Modify Content button in the top right hand corner of your Blackboard homepage.

modify content and modify layout buttons from Blackboard course welcome screen

In the Select Modules area scroll down to find the Recent Podcasts module. Check the box next to it, then click Submit and Ok.

recent podcasts box checked from modules lists

The Recent Podcasts module has now been added to your Blackboard homepage.The module location within the portal can be modified by using the Modify Layout button in the top right hand corner of your Blackboard homepage.

recent podcast module

Creating a Podcast Button in the Course Navigation Menu

Access the Control Panel for the course in which you wish to add a podcast button to the course navigation menu. From the Course Options section select Manage Course Menu.

course options with manage course menu button highlighted

In the Manage Course Menu area, click in the Tool Link button.

manage course menu screen with

On the following screen, select Podcast from the drop-down box.

set area properties screen with podcast selected from drop-down box

Enter the Name that you wish to give to your Podcast button. In this example it is "Podcast." Click Submit and Ok.

set area properties with

 

You have now added the Podcast tool button to your course navigation menu. You can reorder the list if you like to position the button where you would like it to appear within the navigation. Click Submit and Ok to finish.

manage course menu screen with podcast tool area added

Go to your course navigation menu and verify that your button has been added to the course navigation menu.

course menu navigation with

Last Updated: 4/12/2012