Podcasting In Education

presented by Sean FitzGerald for the
Connecting Access 2005 Conference, 7th - 8th December 2005

Photo credits


The podcasting phenomenon is sweeping the Internet. Google results for "podcast" have skyrocketed from 300 in October 2004 to over 74,500,000 today (December 2005). So what's the buzz about? Why is it so popular? What are the educational benefits of this new technology?

Article: 'Podcast' Is 2005 Word of the Year

This presentation will introduce you to podcasts – what they are, where to find them and how to subscribe to and download them. We will focus on some of the ways podcasting can be used in education. We will also take a look at the easy process required to create podcasts and make them available on the Internet.

Background - LearnScope Project

Casting the Net - mLearning with MP3 players, audio lessons, audio blogging and podcasting

Project Purpose:

  • Explore the use of audio lessons, MP3 players, audioblogging and podcasting in education
  • Conduct research into: a) hardware - MP3 players & microphones, b) audio recording and editing software, and c) methods for recording audio lessons and setting up podcasts
  • Train teachers how to record audio lessons using: a) sound recording software and b) recording MP3 players
  • Train teachers to distribute audio lessons using CD-ROMs, flash drives, audio blogging & podcasting

What is Podcasting?

Podcasting is a way of delivering audio content (typically in MP3 format) over the Internet. Listeners subscribe to the podcast using "podcatching" software which retrieves the latest podcasts and automatically downloads them to the listener's computer or portable music player.

Although podcasts were originally named after the iPod, they can be listened to on any MP3 player or MP3-enabled device (such as the new range of MP3 phones).

More info: Podcasting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What's so Great about Podcasting?

Podcasting allows you to listen to audio content at a time and place of your choosing (commuting, jogging, gym, cleaning, beach).

Podcasting puts the listener in control. It has been described as "radio-on-demand" or "time-shifted radio".

What's more, a podcast is relatively easy to create, and requires only minimal equipment at low cost, giving anyone the power to make their own audio programs available to a global audience.

How Does it Work?

Podcasts are distributed using special RSS feeds...

What are RSS Feeds?

  • RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary.
  • RSS is a method for distributing and syndicating content from websites, news sources and blogs.
  • An RSS feed is a file that includes a title, description, and link to each item.
  • Allows you to subscribe to and read the latest posts in an "aggregator" or "feed reader" without having to visit each blog or news site.

More about RSS - All About RSS || Fagan Finder, Tim Tang's Things you can do with RSS & Will Richardson's RSS Quick Start Guide for Educators v. 1.5

What are Podcast Feeds?

  • Podcasts are distributed by a special type of RSS feed that converts the audio file into an "enclosure". Podcast feeds are read by special types of aggregators called "podcatchers" or "podcast receivers" that download the MP3 file.

How do I Subscribe to a Podcast?

  1. Find the podcast feed for the podcast - e.g. http://science.nasa.gov/podcast.xml - look for the orange RSS, XML or Feed icons
  2. Copy and paste the URL into your "podcatching" software
  3. Select where you want the file to be saved (computer or MP3 player)

Then... the podcatching software runs in background and automatically retrieves the new audio files when they become available and saves them to your computer or MP3 player.

Podcatching software

Types of Podcasts

See an Extended list of Uses of Podcasts.

Finding Podcasts

Podcasting Directories
You can find podcasts that interest you at one of these directories:

Educational Uses of Podcasting

See an Extended list of Educational Uses of Podcasting.

Where to find Educational Podcasts

Why Use Audio Lessons and Podcasts in Education?

  • Popularity of MP3 players such as iPods and MP3-enabled devices (soon MP3 phones) provides an easy introduction to elearning and mobile learning
  • Caters for students with auditory and kinaesthetic learning styles
  • Support for students with low literacy skills, reading or other learning difficulties
  • Can provide extra material for motivated learners and be used to facilitate self-paced learning
  • To provide material for vision-impaired learners
  • Can be used in distance education
  • Empowers students by enabling them to distribute their own content to the world - music, creative writing, poetry, even their own radio programs

How do I Create a Podcast?

Method One - DIY

Stage One - Set up the Podcast Blog and Feed

  1. Set-up a blog with an RSS feed (e.g. Blogger).
  2. Create a special podcast RSS feed either a) by using a third party service (e.g. FeedBurner) or b) by using blogging software that creates podcast feeds automatically (e.g. WordPress - instructions).

Stage Two - Creating and Posting Podcasts

  1. Record the audio using a) a microphone and headphones (a $20 microphone headset will do) and audio recording and editing software (e.g. Audacity - screenshots or podcasting software such as PodProducer) or b) use a recording MP3 player (example podcast setup screenshot). Save the file in MP3 format.
  2. Upload the MP3 file to a hosting service (e.g. Ourmedia - free)
  3. Create a link to the MP3 file in a blog post.

See screencast: How to Create a Podcast with Blogger and FeedBurner

Method Two - Web-based Services and Hosts

  • Odeo or podOmatic - upload, record over the web or phone it in (free)
  • Audioblog.com - upload, record over the web or phone it in ($4.95 USD per month)
  • Audioblogger.com - Blogger's free phone-it-in service (you still have to create an RSS feed)

The Future

  • Podcasting used to distribute other kinds of content - photos, video, screencasts, digital stories, documents etc. to mobile devices such as the Video iPod.
  • Microsoft to integrate RSS feeds into Windows Vista.

Online Resources

The last eight URLs saved at del.icio.us and tagged with "podcasting":

    Full list of URLs saved to del.icio.us and tagged with podcasting

    About the Presenter

    Sean is a freelance researcher, consultant, trainer and presenter with a passion for emerging technologies and their impact on society.

    Sean is currently involved in the LearnScope project - Casting the Net - mLearning with MP3 players, audio lessons, audio blogging and podcasting, and the Online Mentoring Network - an E-Learning Networks Project for the AFLF.

    Contact: Email - seanf@tig.com.au or Skype - seamusy

    Licensing Information


    This presentation is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 2.5 License. This means you can use and repurpose this resource as long as you credit the source and don't use this work for commercial purposes (without permission). For more info on this type of licensing see Creative Commons.

    Photo Credits

    "P" by LeoL30
    "O" by LeoL30
    "D" by Carlos Villela
    "C" by Dystopos
    "A" by LeoL30
    "S" by Howard_S
    "T" by caterina

    Title created using Spell with Flickr