Coincidentally, I launched two separate UHS podcast channels this week. The first is a public channel located at http://www.sfuhs.org/podcast that will carry the usual assortment of audio files that we publish on our web site: speakers on campus, musical performances, and student work that will fly with an external audience. So far, I have posted two items: the recent 30th anniversary presentation from founding head Dennis Collins and current head Mike Diamonti, and the 30th anniversary “Greatest All School Meeting — Ever!”, a two-hour behemoth of alumni stage performances. The latter will be especially worthwhile for our alumni community, most of whom were not able to attend the event.
To deliver podcasts to our external web site, I installed the Nucleus Podcast plug-in on our public blog installation on insideUHS, then created a PHP redirect from www.sfuhs.org to inside.sfuhs.org. This keeps all of the large audio files on our internal server but gives the outside world a friendly URL. The actual feed URL is something like http://inside.sfuhs.org/blog/xml-rss2.php?blogid=9. Thank goodness for the use of the http protocol! Publishing podcasts is much easier than, say, setting up a streaming media server, because we can run it through an existing port (80) and use ubiquitous technologies such as PHP location headers to move requests from one server to another. I easily submitted the feed to iTunes, though I still publish instructions for subscribing to it independently (see my post referencing Jon Udell for reasons why).
The second channel is inside our password-protected intranet, where students and teachers are more free to name names, reproduce copyrighted content for educational purposes, and address issues only of concern to the people who come here everyday. This is consistent with my use of password-protection for forums, Moodle, galleries, and course web sites. Here, the technical side was a little more difficult. Though iTunes very nicely supports authentication for podcast subscriptions, it appears to handle only HTTP authentication, not web forms. We use the latter. However, we do have a legacy domain name that is not tied to our web authentication system. iTunes work with that, but only our active directory users may use that system, not permitting parents to use their individualized logins that we love so much. I assume that we also will not be able to list this private podcast in iTunes but rather publish subscription instructions internally. We will see how well that works. Early adopters: point iTunes to http://library.sfuhs.org/blogs/xml-rss2.php?blogid=101.
I am starting to see the writing on the wall for my choice of Nucleus for our blog software. The Podcast plugin for Nucleus is just basic, but I heard about a WordPress podcast plugin that, “totally manages podcast publishing, enclosures, web players, iTunes integration. Handles files uploaded to the blog, as well as remote files (absolute urls). Presents mp3, m4a, mov, mp4, pdf, etc… files.” (source: D’Arcy Norman). Perhaps the time to migrate is approaching.