19: Podcasts

The word podcast is used to refer to a non-musical audio or video broadcast that is distributed over the Internet. What differentiates a podcast from regular streaming audio or video is that the delivery method for podcasts is often done automatically through RSS (see Thing 7).

Podcasts take many forms, from short 1-10 minutes commentaries to much longer in person interviews or panel group discussions. There’s a podcast out there for just about every interest area and the best part about this technology is that you don’t have to have an iPod or a MP3 player to access them. The following video drives home this point with gusto. 

Watch this video for a simple explanation of podcasting from the Common Craft Show.

iTunes, the free downloadable application created by Apple, is the directory finding service most associated with podcasts, but there are other options. For this discovery exercise participants are asked to take a look at some popular podcast directory tools. Do some exploring and locate a podcast that is of interest to you. Once found, you can easily pull the RSS feed into iTunes, Google Reader (Thing 7), or your favorite start page (Thing 8). That way, when new casts become available, you’ll be automatically notified of their existence.

Good to Know: You can subscribe to and play podcasts in Google Reader or a start page tool, but they can't help you transfer your media files onto an ipod or other mp3 player. A "true podcatcher" such as iTunes actually DOWNLOADS the media files to your hard drive which then allows you to transfer the files to your portable player.

Discovery Resources:
Here are a few podcast directories:
  • Podcastalley.com – Over 75,000 podcasts from which to choose.
  • Educational Podcast Network – A directory of about 2,000 education-themed podcasts, organized by subject area.
  • Learn Out Loud – A directory of about 1500 free "podcasts you can learn from."
  • Podcast.com – over 60,000 podcast feeds
  • iTunes – If you don’t already have the free program installed on your computer, you’ll need to do that first. Once you’ve installed iTunes, you can begin using it to search for and subscribe to podcasts. This video will show you how. When you find a podcast series that you like, you can subscribe to it so you can listen to new episodes as they become available.
  • iTunes U (a subset of iTunes) – More than 250,000 free lectures, videos, films, and other resources are available from iTunes U. Click here to watch a short video from Apple on iTunes U.

Discovery Exercise:
  1. Take a look at a couple of the podcast directories listed and see if you can find a podcast that interests you.
  2. For your blog post:
  • Which podcast(s) sparked your interest? Link to it in your blog post if you would recommend it to others.
  • Which of directory tools did you find easiest to use?
  • Has this Thing inspired you to do any podcasting yourself or to subscribe to a podcast to listen to regularly?
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Bonus Material:
If you want to audio blog via the phone, a resource for this is ipadio.  This site includes some educational uses.

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