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Podcasting in Education (Part 2 of 2)

by Kelly Walsh on March 23, 2009

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How do I find and listen to education oriented Podcasts? 
Following up on last week’s introduction to Podcasting in education, this week I am checking out how to find education oriented podcasts, and how to listen to them. 
 
Finding education oriented Podcasts 
I “googled” around a bit and have to say that I was a little disappointed – there does not seem to be an overabundance of ongoing, quality podcasts focused on education (with the exception of lectures and lecture support materials, which there are plenty of). Maybe that’s a good thing, as long as there are some reliable sources for this kind of content, which there does in fact seem to be (Apple’s “iTunes U” alone probably provides more content than most folks would care to check out!).
 
Here are a few of the sources I found for education oriented Podcasts:   
  • Apple’s iTunes: Apple claims that there are over 130,000 podcasts on iTunes, and iTunes is undoubtedly a major player in the world of podcasting. Apple has a program focused specifically on education and learning – “iTunes U”. Apple’s iTunes University appears to be a premier provider of podcasts and vidcasts focused on education (more on iTunes below in “Listening to Podcasts”). 
  • Education.podcast.com: With this apt name, this site would seem to be a logical place to find an abundance of education oriented podcasts, and a brief search around the site held up some promise. Podcast.com boasts over 60,000 regularly streaming podcast programs. One example of a promising entry was a “Podcast for teachers” that listed 85 episodes in total, and appears to have a new posting once or twice a month.
  • Here is a nice collection of podcasts of lecture oriented material, from the Online Education Database (oedb.org): http://oedb.org/library/beginning-online-learning/skip-the-tuition:-100-free-podcasts-from-the-best-colleges-in-the-world.
  • The Education Podcast Network: This site is clearly focused on education podcasts, but I found that many of the categories I clicked through to find podcasts of interest just led to sets of old, outdated podcasts, and few categories appeared to have fresh content. There were some worthwhile entries here though, and this is where I came across IT Conversations, which I felt compelled to mention. It is not education specific, but IT Conversations is noteworthy as the longest-running podcast on the planet, publishing a new audio program nearly every day, covering a wide variety of IT related topics and more (“Not just IT, it’s everything tech and beyond”), and it is worth being aware of if you are interested in podcasts.

Naturally, sources for education oriented podcasts are constantly evolving, so feel free to search out your own education oriented podcasts – you never know what a given search phrase will bring up until you try it!

Listening to Podcasts 
Listening to a podcast on your computer can be a simple point and click operation – find the podcast and click on a link and it plays, but managing subscriptions to podcasts, and getting them downloaded to an iPod or similar device can be a bit more involved. One easy way to manage and listen to podcast subscriptions is with Google Reader. Just add the podcast feed URL like you would add any other RSS subscription.
 
Podcatchers: Frequent podcast listeners often use a “podcatcher” application to faciliate the process. Podcatchers are a class of application that are designed to help you manage subscriptions to podcasts, and automate related processes.
 
Following are a few podcatcher applications:  
  • Apple iTunes is free, and it is probably one of the most widely used applications for subscribing to and managing podcasts (note that you can listen to podcasts via iTunes with or without an iPod). Many podcasts provide an easy iTunes button to make it easy to subscribe using iTunes, and even if they don’t, you can also and drop an RSS or XML “badge” (icon) into the iTunes podcast window to subscribe. 
  • PodNova: PodNova lets you subscribe to podcasts and has a very nice online application for this – it has an iTunes like feel, but is simpler (and there is no installation necessary). 
  • Juice: This free open source download will help you organize your podcasts, and provides a dedicated program for podcasts (instead of your browser).  
  • Other online “podcatchers” include: Doppler Radio, Pageflakes, and Odeo

Conclusion
Podcasting done well can be a very useful tool, providing information and entertainment in ways similar to video, but I have to say that frankly I was a little underwhelmed by the state of podcasting in education. It just doesn’t appear to have been very widely adopted outside of the lecture broadcast realm. I do think that Podcasting will be with us for years, and it certainly has a place in the overall scheme of Internet based ‘broadcast’ venues. It is being pretty widely used for the broadcast of lectures, and seems to be a good match for that purpose. It remains to be seen if it will be increasingly adopted for broadcasts about other education related topics. I did come across a number of individual efforts to create a regular series of podcasts about education and teaching (such as “The Teacher’s Life” podcast  by second grade teacher Bobby Norman), and only time will tell how popular and productive these types of efforts will become.

Next Week’s Topic?
I have a lot of great blogging topics set aside for future blogs, but after a rough weekend of computer crashes and blog mishaps while I worked my way through learning more about how to accomplish certain blogging related processes, I’m just not ready to commit to next weekend’s topic yet! Maybe it’s time to take a look at some of the emerging internet technologies that are being used here in my own organization. There’s no better validation of the potential for these tools than the actual implementations that are undertaken using them. Please be sure to stop back and see!

 

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol February 1, 2010 at 12:35 am

Just some thoughts-
I think podcasting will continue to be with us but it has a more gentle arch – maybe 10-15% growth/yr.
itunes-Yes that is the dominant force in podcasting. But if you can add some visuals to a podcast and put it on YouTube – your A/V is suddenly something people know how to embed in facebook, their blogs, etc. Captures a different set of people.
A friend is a podcaster. She says it is a smaller group of people on the web doing this. But once you gain a little prominance in that space, and you do it well, you are something special.
Lastly-I’ll be getting into podcasting in the next few months. Primarily because I love podcasts and I think I deliver info. better and faster verbally. I’ll try to keep a bit of a diary on that to share…let me know if you get into that, too.
Best Wishes – Carol

John Sowash April 13, 2009 at 1:01 pm

iTunesU now has a K-12 section with lots of high quality podcast including enhanced podcast that contain pictures and video. This section of iTunes is relatively new therefore there haven’t been a lot of resources posted so far. Apple is trying to coordinate with the Department of Education from each state to build a channel of podcasts linked to state standards. I am part of a group of educators creating content for the Michigan channel. Check it out, the resources that have been submitted are excellent.

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