Podcast Primer

Podcasts are nothing more than audio files that have one really neat feature: like blogs and wikis, you can SUBSCRIBE to them. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, go to my RSS post in this blog for more info on how to set up a feed reader and subscribe. It’s easy and ESSENTIAL if you are to live in this information-busting era.)

Here is a slidecast of the PowerPoint I presented at the workshop:

Podcasts, since you can subscribe to them, are automatically updated. You can listen to and/or view (podcasts can also be video) them in iTunes, where new episodes are automatically downloaded for you. (You can decide whether you actually want to listen to them or not. That’s why your podcast title is crucial.)

Podcasts are becoming even more popular than blogs. In 2005, when iTunes offered podcasts through their highly popular browser (yes, iTunes is a browser), almost 1 million users subscribed to a podcast 2 days later. It is estimated that by 2010, there will be 56 million podcast subscribers. That is a big market, and one that educators should pay attention to.

Who listens to podcasts? 3/4 of the people who own mp3 players listen to podcasts. People who subscribe to podcasts tend to be younger than the online population at large. Web users between the ages of 18 to 24 are 72 percent more likely than the average Web user to listen to audio podcasts and 47 percent more likely to view video podcasts. Users older than 45 were less likely than average to listen to or view podcasts.

Why should educators care?

Podcasts are:

  • flexible and convenient
  • provide content on demand
  • require users to develop a new breed of skill sets
  • low-cost, low-risk
  • able to deliver lectures and encourage conversations
  • ways students can demonstrate learning

How to access and listen to a podcast:

You can find podcasts through searching on:

  • iTunes (podcast directory)
  • Podcast search engines: Podanza is one
  • Websites: NPR is an example

Boise State will be teaming with iTunes U to help faculty create and deliver podcasts, as well as student-created podcasts. Check out these content scenarios provided by Apple.

Here’s what you will need to produce a podcast:

  1. Microphone
    • If you are recording your voice only, a headset microphone works really well. I use a Logitech headset microphone that cost about $100.
    • If you don’t want to use a computer to record, you can borrow one of our audio recorders from Academic Technologies and record to this. These are portable devices that you can then upload your audio file to and convert. Software to download on your computer comes with this device.
    • If you are in a pinch, use the built-in microphone on your laptop. Depending upon the brand and age, these aren’t all that bad. Really.
    • If you are recording a larger group (think class meeting), then use a Logitech Speakerphone for a PC or a Blue Snowball (Apple.) These will set you back about $100 each.
  2. If you want to produce an enhanced podcast (audio with corresponding images), you can use GarageBand if you have an Apple. Another way of producing an enhanced podcast is to use software called ProfCast (Apple.) For PC owners, use a program called “SnapKast.” These programs take your narrated PowerPoint and convert it easily and quickly to a podcast file. They literally are a “snap,” and I think they have a lot of applications, such as live lectures or recorded presentation. (I’m going to do one next using my Podcasting PowerPoint, so you’ll see what it looks like.)
  3. If you want to produce a video podcas, you’ll need some sort of camera. You can actually use a web cam to record yourself speaking, although the quality is not that great. If you want to record something more than your talking head, use a digital video camera. We also loan those out through our front desk at Academic Technologies. You can edit this movie in either iMovie (Apple) or Movie Maker (PC). A very handy program to also have is QuickTime Pro. It costs about $30 or so, but it worth every dollar, especially when you need to compress movie files to smaller size or to podcast files.

4 Easy Steps to Producing a Podcast

  1. Record audio and/or video
  2. Edit
  3. Save file in required format
  4. Publish

Want to publish your podcasts now?

If you want to publish podcasts right away, you can easily publish to an online service, such as blip.tv and then link from your blog or just have your listeners/viewers subscribe to your blip.tv feed. It’s not that hard and if you need help doing this, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

10 Reasons for using Podcasting in Education:

  1. You can easily record your lectures/presentations for later listening by your students.
  2. Use podcasts to augment your written instructions, especially in an online course, for students who learn better from listening rather than reading.
  3. Have your students produce podcasts to demonstrate learning, such as public speaking skills.
  4. Have students create podcasts as a learning tool or tutorial for students in the same class, to demonstrate and reinforce learning.
  5. How about using podcasts for students to demonstrate skill acquisition, such as foreign language skills?
  6. Turn your screencasts into podcasts.
  7. Have students demonstrate interviewing skills and then produce them as podcasts.
  8. Create a video podcast of your department, as an informational/marketing podcast for new students.
  9. Turn just about any audio and/or video project into a podcast. The reason for doing this is to enable people to subscribe to them. This will eliminate the need for listeners/viewers to go to your website each time you post a new episode. They will simply go to their iTunes account and see what is new.
  10. It’s a lot of fun and your students should like it.

Additional Resources


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