Podcasting

Podcasting is a method of publishing or distributing multimedia content (i.e. audio and video) over the Web. Podcasts are made available through syndication feeds, which enable new content, or episodes, to be automatically delivered to a personal computer. Users subscribe to podcasts that are pushed to aggregators, also called podcatchers. The podcast can then be played on a personal computer or by using many video capable MP3 players.

Podcasting, in terms of the technologies involved and its uses, has three distinctive features:

  1. Podcasting facilitates mobile learning, because podcasts can be played locally on a personal computer or synchronized to a portable media device such as an iPod or other MP3 player and played on-the-go.
  2. Podcasting is a time-shifting medium because it involves files that can be downloaded and played anytime or anywhere.
  3. Podcasting involves “pull” technology. Subscribers manage podcasts using a podcast aggregator, or podcatcher (e.g., iTunes, Juice), which automatically checks for and downloads the latest episodes. Podcasts are distributed using syndication feeds in RSS format.

Podcasts began as audio-only recordings, but enhanced podcasts—containing audio and graphics—and video podcasts, or vodcasts—containing audio and video—are becoming increasingly available. Podcasts are generally produced as a series, having episodes or editions, much like radio or television series, or a newspaper or magazine publication. Podcasting has much in common with blogging, which involves publishing a series of entries that are made available to subscribers through syndication feeds.

What do I need to get started?

Users can access podcast content through a computer with a sound card and speakers; an Internet connection; and a podcatcher application (known also as podcast client or receiver). Some examples are: iTunes, Miro, Amarok, Banshee, Podcatcher, and Juice. More information on (and a larger list of) pod catchers, is located at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_podcatchers.

Once you have a podcatcher application installed, you can subscribe to podcasts from inside the application. It will then automatically look for new podcasts to download, based on the schedule you've set in the application.

If you want to take the podcasts with you, you'll need a portable media player like an iPod, or another MP3 player. Once the podcasts are downloaded onto your computer you can transfer them onto your MP3 player.

Subscribing to Podcasts

If you want to subscribe to a podcast and automatically receive new episodes whenever they are broadcast, you can do it one of two ways:

  1. Subscribing using iTunes
    If you have iTunes installed, just click the iTunes icon [ ] in your Moodle course site. The iTunes program will load and from then on, every new episode will be downloaded into iTunes and, optionally, into your portable media player.
    Go to http://www.apple.com/itunes/ to download iTunes.
  2. Subscribing using other podcast software

    If you use another podcast software (like Juice, or others), copy the show's RSS feed that is available in your course Moodle site. Then paste that URL into your podcast software's add podcast area.