One of our initiatives here at Academic Technologies involves a partnership with iTunes U. This partnership will enable the easy uploading and delivery of podcasts to our university audience. In planning for this service, we need to help faculty and eventually students understand how to create and produce a podcast, how to upload it, and how to subscribe and listen to a podcast.
Podcasting is nothing more than audio (and can also include video) files that are feed-enabled or subscription-based. This means that once you subscribe to a podcast, all subsequent episodes are automatically downloaded to your computer (or mp3 device).
HERE’S THE IMPORTANT PART:
Creating a podcast is really only necessary when you plan to have a series of audio files (episodes) common to a theme or topic. If you want to simply post an audio file on one topic with no subsequent “episodes,” then there is really NO NEED to format and upload your file for podcasting. You would simply upload the audio file to your web server, create the link, and the audio file would either play in the user’s browser or selected media software. Remember this as you plan for podcasting.
If you have a reason to create a podcast, then you’ll need certain equipment. Here’s the breakdown:
Apple or PC, your choice. (Can you guess my choice?)
2. Audio Recording Software (Applications)
Good choice: Audacity
- Works on Windows and Apple, is free, and very easy to use.
- Will export as an MP3 file which is a suitable file format for podcasts.
- Download software and also LAME MP3 encoder (Allows Audacity to export MP3 files.)
Good choice: GarageBand
- Comes standard on Apple computers
- Interfaces very well with iPhoto, iTunes, other media applications
- Allows you to create “enhanced audio podcasts,” by inserting images and hyperlinks in the podcast
- Easy to use and can help you create a very professional production
More advanced/professional applications (I have not used either one of these programs, but they would be for very advanced editing and stuff that professionals use. This is probably overkill for most podcasts done at the educational level, but I am not an expert here.)
3. Microphone (Audio Input)
- For easy set-up on your computer and good quality recordings, use a USB microphone, such as a Plantronics 625 Stereo headset, which works on both PC & Apple. An advantage to this setup is that you also have your headphones.
- USB Studio Condenser Microphone : This works on both Apple and PC, is easyt to set up, and not too expensive ($88), http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1810
- Wired lapel microphones
- Dynamic microphones
- iPod microphones: iGriffin offers an iTalk Pro, but at this time it is not available. (I have not used this type of setup, but if and when it is available, will give it a try and get back to you.)
4. Headphones (Audio Output)
- Headphones are important because you need to monitor the levels of your recording but you don’t want to have the sound coming from a set of speakers being recorded by the microphone. This is why I like to use a USB headset, which has both the microphone (audio input) and headphones (audio output). You should use headphones that cover your ears, but you can also use the kind of earbuds that come with an iPod. But use headphones and not your computer speakers, so you can really listen to how your recording sounds.
I hope this helps you better understand why you might podcast and what you will need.