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Podcasts for Research and Fun   Tags: dny, gdsj, ict_literacy, scholarly_communication, scholarly_publishing, social_web  

Overview of what podcasts are, examples of podcasts by discipline, and how to create and syndicate podcasts.
Last Updated: Nov 5, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Podcasts in Education

Podcasts can allow for asynchronous communication, and allows an "outside" voice to enrich class dialogue, in either a hybrid or all-online course. They can be professionally produced shows (video or radio) that are available on a professional site, like NPR or CNN, on an educational site, like University Channel, or they can be produced by individuals to feature local experts (like a faculty member or student who interviews an expert to create a "primary" source.

Educause: 7 things you should know about Podcasting
VIDEO: "Podcasting in Plain English"


Listening to Podcasts

Listening to or dowloading audio-files:  You can listen to a streaming version of the audiofile by clicking on the Name-hyperlink. To download a single audio-file to your computer, right-click on the hyperlinked name, and select "Save Target as..." to transfer a copy of the .mp3 file to your computer.

Subscribing to Podcasts You can also subscribe to all the Library podcasts, as syndicated through the Libraries' LIBlog, using iTunes, or other readers and podcatchers.


What is a Podcast?

A podcast is a type of informational broadcast that is saved as an audio file (generally in mp3 format) which can be uploaded to a server, and delivered to listeners at their convenience. 

The term “podcast” is somewhat of a misnomer.  The neologism1  was proposed in order to convey the idea that this type of communication is highly-portable (allowing for place-shifted information access) and could be played back at a time that was most convenient to the audience (allowing for time-shifted information access).  The term podcast also enjoyed the advantage of rhyming with “broadcast,” so innovators capitalized on the association that listeners had with broadcasting and iPods; but, it should be noted that these audio files can be downloaded to any mp3-compatible player, including computer desktops, laptops or a variety personal listening/handheld devices. 

Strictly speaking, "podcasts" are distributed through an RSS mechanism that allows listeners to "subscribe" to an audio series (e.g.: through iTunes, Odeo, NewsGator, etc.), but you may also encounter the term podcast being used to describe audio-files hosted on a site, or audio-video files.  As one of many Social Web tools, podcasts also allow for feedback through blogging, comments, etc.

1 Ben Hammersley suggested podcast in February 12, 2004; later that year Dannie Gregoire coined the term "podcaster" in an ipodder list-serv discussion about the use of RSS to deliver "back episodes" in the ipodder. 

Gregoire, D. J. (2004). "How to handle getting past episodes?" In the ipodder-dev mailing list, Thu, Sep 16 2004. Accessible online:

Hammersley, B. (2004). "Audible revolution." The Guardian, Feb 12 2004. Accessible online:,3605,1145689,00.html


How can podcasts be useful in the classroom?

Duke University’s self-evaluation of their 2005 iPod Experiment captures many beneficial uses of academic podcasting. Duke faculty used podcasts to disseminate pre-recorded content (guest lectures, music and language clips) and to record lectures and discussion the classroom.  Classroom podcasts  1) facilitated student use for playback/review of difficult material, 2) allowed multiple repetitions for students who have difficulty with English, and 3) enabled students to review class materials while multitasking (e.g.: commuting or exercising).  Some students were inspired to create podcasts outside of the classroom, for example, recording interviews and environment sounds which could then be incorporated into classroom discussions and projects.  Use of in-classroom and out-of-classroom recordings were seen to be most helpful in music and language courses, where there was an increase of “frequency and depth of student interaction.” 

Lecture-Quality podcasts (like those found on Princeton's University Channel, and others) offer the opportunity for "outside experts" to enter classroom discussions.  Student-generated podcasts -- interviewing survivors of genocide -- and allow previously "silenced" voices to be heard, and to enter discussions that affect their fate.

Duke University (2005). “First Year experience evaluation Report” (June 2005)  Accessible online: (See also their follow-up Podcasting Symposium held September 27-28th 2005. )

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