Podcast consulting, training and support is provided by CITES Academic Technology Services to help interested instructors discover the best pedagogical uses of podcasting for the courses they teach. Academic Technology Services consultants provide guidance on whether or not podcasting is the best option for a given course, strategic and creative podcast design, optimum workflow for podcast creation and where and how to host a podcast. EdTech can also offer advice on equipment to be used for Podcasting and has a limited supply of equipment that can be borrowed to help get started with podcast creation.
A podcast is a collection of audio or video files made available on the internet via a free subscription model. For example, students in Cleo D'Arcy and Darin Eastburn's Plant Pathology 200 course can subscribe to their weekly podcast so that when a new episode is released they receive it automatically via their podcast client software, typically the free iTunes software from Apple. Podcasts can be accessed via any internet-connected computer and they can also be listened to "on the go" with an MP3 player, but MP3 players are not required to access a podcast. "Enhanced podcasts" include images synchronized with the audio. Video podcasts, or "vodcasts," use video rather than just audio.
There are a wide variety of uses for podcasts in education. The first use many instructors think of, and probably therefore the most common, is making audio or video of lectures available as podcasts. More interesting "value-added" uses of podcasting, however, include ideas such as
- highlighting key points and study questions for the week's content in a brief, engaging format
- supplementing course content with podcasts of interviews with experts in the field
- providing access to authentic audio such as bird songs, frog calls or insect sounds in a field biology course, native speakers in a language course, musical works in a music history course, or historical audio recordings in a history course
- requiring groups of students to produce podcast episodes each on their own assigned topic which together provide a useful resource both within and beyond the classroom
While podcasts have great educational potential, they are not the ideal answer to every educational need. It is not uncommon for Academic Technology Services consultants meeting with instructors who are keen on podcasting to end up pointing them in other directions. One or two audio or video files for the semester, for example, may well be better handled by a streaming server-- no need for the subscription model of a podcast in that case. Likewise, the common idea of recording all the lectures for the semester and providing them as a podcast no doubt has some benefit and may be worth doing, depending on the specific needs of the students, the subject matter, etc. However, such a plan does not really take full advantage of the possibilities of podcasting and is not likely to be very heavily used by the students. CITES Academic Technology Services consultants would be happy to brainstorm the possibilities with you.
The key to accessible podcasting is providing a transcript. While this may seem onerous, one good approach to quality podcasting is to work from a script in the first place. This, in turn, can be edited as needed to become the transcript. This approach, of course, works best with a brief "value-added" podcast as opposed to a 60-minute lecture.
There are a number of technical issues to be addressed in creating a podcast: capturing good quality audio or video, editing and then hosting the podcast on a server accessible to the target audience whether that's a specific class or the world. Because a true podcast involves multiple episodes, say weekly or bi-weekly during a semester for example, the key to being successful on the technical end of the process is establishing an efficient workflow. A workflow which demands too much of a busy instructor is likely to join the hordes of one or two-episode "podcasts" littering the internet that begin with "This is our first weekly podcast for this semester...." and turns out to be the ONLY podcast for the semester. Helpful information can be found in the Resources section below and CITES Academic Technology Services consultants are ready and available to work with instructors on establishing a podcasting workflow that works for them.
- Week 1 of the Plants, Pathogens and People Podcast by Cleo D'Arcy and Darin Eastburn is the first episode of an exemplary weekly podcast in a creative "magazine" format highlighting a key concept for the week, a point of confusion and study questions. The length of the podcast (from five to eight minutes), the upbeat nature of it, the use of multiple voices, and the musical interludes chosen to fit with the topic of the week all help to engage students and provide value added beyond the weekly lectures.
- Student Podcast on Binary Fission by Jackie Rutter, Honors Student in Darin Eastburn's Plant Pathology 200 class-- as one of several options offered to honors students in Plants, Pathogens and People, Darin and Cleo D'Arcy allow students to create their own podcast episodes. The students propose a topic to be approved, submit an outline for comments, write their scripts to be checked by the instructors, and then record their podcast. Darin assists students with the recording process if desired and then adds the episode to the Plants, Pathogens and People Podcast.
- The Definition of Visual Culture by Dr. Jeanne Willette is a four minute enhanced podcast introducing the topic for her Introduction to Visual Culture Course at the Otis School of Art and Design (note: for the enhanced podcast to work, you have to "get" the episode by clicking the Get button in iTunes and then accessing the downloaded version from the playlist which appears at the left after the episode is downloaded.)
- American Baseball - Social Change episode of Moments in American History Podcast (Central Washington University) is one episode of an intriguing grant-funded series of approximately 90-second video podcasts with history professors and museum directors from the state of Washington available via iTunes U.
- podgrunt -- a good video explanation of what a podcast is and how it works. Also unfortunately apparently an example of a podcast that launched but didn't get beyond episode one...
- Learning in Hand: Podcasting in Education -- a very nice introductory site including tutorials on creating podcasts and lots of helpful links. Though geared toward K12 education, a very useful introduction to podcasting for educational purposes.
- ELI Discovery Tool: Guide to Podcasting -- a strong resource with seven tabs organizing information ranging from "What is it?" to "How do I get started?"
- Podagogy: Where podcasting meets teaching and learning -- this blog features, among other things, very helpful reviews of useful podcasting hardware for those interested in making an investment in equipment for podcasting.
- Right Ways and Wrong Ways of Podcasting in Education -- a dated but relevant conversation on what works/what doesn't in designing educational podcasts.
- Creating a Podcast with Audacity on a Windows PC -- a good overview video tutorial from Penn State.
- Creating a Podcast with Audacity on a Macintosh -- a good overview of one of the two most common ways to create an audio podcast on the Macintosh, also from Penn State.
- Podcasting with Audacity: Creating a Podcast with Free Audio Software -- this is a chapter excerpted from a book by the same title. This particular chapter focuses on editing your audio once you've captured it, so if you're using Audacity, this is a good complement to the two links above on capturing audio with Audacity.
- Creating an Enhanced Podcast with Garageband '08 -- this quick video tutorial from Apple overviews how an enhanced podcast (audio with synchronized images) can be created using Garageband, part of the iLife suite on the Macintosh computer. Garageband can also be used to create audio-only podcasts as well.
- Poducate Me -- this site's homepage cites experiences at Duke and University of Washington in using Podcasts. The Podcasting Guide, linked from the home page, offers an extremely detailed and comprehensive approach to creating a podcast, right down to differences in microphones, etc. The guide also includes a detailed list of case studies in educational podcasting (starting at page 13).
- The CITES Podcast Server -- our locally hosted podcast server solution. Check the FAQ in the right-hand sidebar for information on setting up an account for your class.
- Illinois on iTunes U -- our developing presence on Apple's iTunes U service. Contact CITES Academic Technology Services (email@example.com) for information about getting a space for your class on iTunes U.
- Confessions of a Podcast Junkie -- Anecdotes from the grad student author's own experience with podcasting and her interviews with college students from several North American campuses. Don't miss the "If I Were in Charge: Tips for Faculty" section near the end of the article.
- Consensus: Podcasting has no 'Inherent' Value -- Key word here is "inherent." The main point of this short article is that the usefulness of podcasting in education depends on how it is used, the educational context, etc. I note too that the studies referred to seem to limit their research to students listening to recorded lectures via podcast-- arguably not the best use of podcasting technology though no doubt useful in some cases.
- Questioning the Student Use of and Desire for Lecture Podcasts -- Again I note the focus on podcasting lectures as a limitation of the potential of podcasting.