The word “podcast” comes from the name for Apple’s ubiquitous media player, the iPod, and the word “broadcast” (Ciccarelli, n.d.). A podcast is often audio content (primarily spoken but often including some music at the beginning and end), and sometimes video content that users access via computers or digital media players (Bolden & Nahachesky, 2015). Many podcasts are available from iTunes and from other apps such as Stitcher, my preferred podcast app.
Podcasts in Education
Most uses of podcasts involve listening to the podcast as a consumer. Podcasts could be used this way in formal education, perhaps by embedding or linking to a relevant podcast episode in online course materials. Another way to use podcasts from a consumer perspective in education would be for an instructor to record a lecture and offer it to students as a podcast. Vance (2012) found that students value this usage of podcasts. But when you used in education, podcasts, like blogs and wikis, are more often approached from a creator, rather than a consumer, perspective. For example, students in a freshman-level music education class were assigned to make podcasts about the music that had influenced them in their lives (Bolden & Nahachewsky, 2015). As with creating a blog, students can learn skills from writing the script for, recording, and producing a podcast themselves.
Podcasts in Corporate Training
While creating podcasts can be a valuable tool in education, I feel like the best use of podcasts in a corporate training environment is for the training team to create the podcasts and then offer them to students. I feel that podcasts are more suited to informal learning than to formal learning. For example, Hartley (2012), a Learning and Development manager for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, recommends using podcasts as part of an informal learning strategy. I believe that rather than assigning students to listen to a podcast as part of a formal training class, a corporate training organization could post periodic podcasts, thus creating a library of podcasts that trainees could access informally as their need and interest dictates.
Creating a podcast involves multiple steps. The following steps are adapted from Hesse (24 July 2016):
- Planning and preproduction – You need to choose a theme for your podcast series, decide on the length and the frequency of your episodes, and write a script that is at least a rough outline for each episode.
- Recording – You can use high-end recording software, but if you’re just getting started or want to save money, you can use a free tool such as Audacity, which is you can download from http://www.audacityteam.org/. If you use Audacity, you also need to download the LAME MP3 encoder in order to export your recording to an mp3 file. A link to do this is available on the Windows and Mac operating system pages on the Audacity website. You also need a microphone and headphones to use while recording. A mixer is necessary if you are using multiple mics for multiple participants. A pop filter is also helpful to improve the quality of your recording.
This is the Audacity interface.
- Postproduction – You need to edit your recorded audio to remove extraneous noise, adjust recording levels, eliminate dead space, and include music and sound effects. You can do this in Audacity.
- Upload your podcast to a host site – A variety of sites are available. For example, you can post the audio file to WordPress and generate the RSS feed that you need for distributing your podcast. An RSS feed is necessary for distributing a podcast via a distribution channel such as iTunes. It enables the service to be notified when a new episode is available.
- Distribution – You can host your podcast on your own website, but if you want to distribute it to the general public, you should list your podcast with a service such as iTunes or Stitcher.
Learn More about Podcasts
The following websites provide more information about how to create and distribute a podcast:
- How to Make a Successful Podcast, by Brendan Hesse. Available at http://www.digitaltrends.com/how-to/how-to-make-a-podcast/
- How to Start Your Own Podcast, by Patrick Allan. Available at http://lifehacker.com/how-to-start-your-own-podcast-1709798447
- wikiHow to Create an RSS Feed – for information on creating an RSS feed if you don’t post your podcast somewhere that creates it automatically. Available at http://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-RSS-Feed
Bolden, B., & Nahachewsky, J. (2015). Podcast creation as transformative music engagement. Music Education Research, 17(1), 17-33.
Ciccarelli, S. (n.d.). History of podcasting. Retrieved from https://www.voices.com/resources/articles/podcasting/history-of-podcasting
Hartley, D. (2012). A Healthy Dose of Learning. Chief Learning Officer, 11(8), 24-26.
Hesse, B. (24 July 2016). How to make a successful podcast. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltrends.com/how-to/how-to-make-a-podcast/
Vance, L. K. (2012). Do students want web 2.0? An investigation into student instructional preferences. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 47(4), 481-493.