Explore Podcasting


photo by thornj
photo by thornj

photo by thornj
A podcast is sort of like an online radio show, except the listeners get to decide when and where they want to listen.

The term "podcast" stands for Portable On-Demand Broadcast. And you DON"T NEED an iPod to listen to or create a podcast! Having an iPod (or similar portable device) simply makes listening to podcasts (and other media, such as music, audiobooks and videos) really convenient. (Of course, there are tons of ways to use iPods in education).

An audio file published to the web does not qualify as a podcast. A podcast consists of an audio file (typically MP3 format) published to the web PLUS an RSS feed (XML file). The RSS feed allows listeners to subscribe to the podcast and to automatically receive new episodes in a special type of RSS reader called a podcatcher. In addition to managing your podcast subscriptions and playing the media files, podcatchers can also help you transfer your podcasts to your media player. The most popular podcatcher is iTunes, a free program designed to work with iPods, but which also serves as a general media player and organizer, and a huge, searchable podcast directory.

Good to know: You can subscribe to and play podcasts in your Google Reader, but it can't help you transfer your media files onto your portable player. If you just want to listen to podcasts on your computer, Google Reader is actually a great option, because it just "points to" the podcast files so that you can play them in the reader, whereas a "true podcatcher" such as iTunes actually DOWNLOADS the media files to your hard drive.

Lucky for us, our friends at CommonCraft have created a "Podcasting in Plain English" video..

Try this introduction to Podcasting, from PodGrunt
Link: http://gruntmedia.com/podgrunt_001_view.html

Discovery Exercise

The best way to learn about podcasts is to listen to a few of them.

PART 1: Visit the Grazr link to sample a few educational podcasts. http://grazr.com/readview=3p&file=http://grazr.com/data/lotta_scales/Selected_Education_Podcasts

How to use the Grazr:
  • Click a category folder in the left pane to view its contents.
  • Click a podcast title under the category to view all episodes in the upper right pane.
  • Select an episode from the upper right pane, and access the podcast in the lower right pane. You may need to scroll down past the episode description to see the embedded player or "play now" link. (NOTE: Video podcasts showing a "Play now" link will open in a new window).

As you explore these podcasts and search for a few of your own (Part 2), begin thinking about ways you could use existing podcasts to supplement your classroom or professional teaching/learning.

PART 2: Find and subscribe to a podcast.

Find a podcast that interests you (see "Where do I find podcasts?" below) -- ideally, related to your teaching/professional role -- and subscribe to it using your Google Reader. (Locate the RSS or Subscribe icon and click it, then select your Google Reader, or copy and paste the feed URL into the Subscribe field in your Google Reader). Listen to a bit of your subscription(s).

Where do I find podcasts?