There is a new section in the iTunes directory, that is called iTunes U. It is a section where universities (so far only American Universities are present) can publish their audio material. We can safely assume - and a couple of samples I have taken indicate exactly at that - most if not all of this material is educational material, whether they are lectures, interviews, talk radio, panels and so on. From my perspective, this section qualifies as educational podcasts and the content is exactly up my alley.
Not only does it walk and talk like educational podcasts, the fact that the material is free and can be subscribed to, also gives it the attributes of podcasts. That is where we hit a snag. iTunes does not treat this material as podcasts. Upon download, it is placed in the music library, inconspicuously between all the rest of the material. There is no 'podcast' or similar label and neither is it copied into the podcast section. The only separation is a folder with playlists. (I took some stuff from Stanford, so I have a Stanford folder now)
I do not like this taxonomy at all. iTunes should treat all podcasts as podcasts. It would be great if actually all talk material would be separated from the music, podcast or otherwise. Next, it would do, to have this talk section be customizable, so that the user can devise a taxonomy of his own. This woukld also improve the podcast section, which, at the latest version, still has a flat hierarchy, listing all of my podcasts, one after the other, without allowing me to group them in any which way. With the amount of podcasts I keep at hand, this has become near unmanageable.
EDIT: Have Stanford or iTunes officials been reading my blog? Stanford and other universities on iTunes U offer a button to subscribe thus making their audio true podcasts. The content turns up in the familiar podcast section. Such an improvement.