User-Generated Content in Education/Podcasting in the 21st Century

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Podcasting in the 21st Century

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What Is Podcasting?

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A podcast is a derivative of the words iPod and broadcasting. It is a series of audio or video files that are often downloaded using Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds.[1] Such feeds allow the listener/viewer to receive up-to-date information regarding his/her favorite Web site on a recurring basis. New files can be downloaded automatically and stored on the user's computer, iPod, or other portable media player for offline use.[2] There is some debate surrounding the origins of podcasting. "Generally, Dave Winer, a software developer and an author of the RSS format, and former MTV VJ Adam Curry are recognized as the originating force behind the podcasting phenomenon." [3] Podcasts are not regulated by the government. The Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) broadcast decency regulations do not apply to podcasts. Therefore, when choosing to use a podcast for educational purposes, the instructor must screen the content. Copyright law, however, does apply to podcasts. Creative Commons is one resource which can be used to copyright material. The user can choose from six different levels of licensing for the podcast. A form of podcast is the video podcast, called a vidcast or vodcast. Instead of just an audiofile, the podcast contains video and can be created with a video camera, and video editing software. There are several free and low cost versions of software available, including Ezvid, VideoPad Video Editor, and Corel VideoStudio Pro [amazon link]. Additionally, the vodcast creator must use a video encoder to format it in a manageable file size for online viewing and find a video host. The benefits of using a vidcast rather than a podcast are numerous including appeal to visual learners, ability of the student to see a process being taught, and teaching more advanced 21st Century skills through the editing program.[4]

RSS Icon

What Are Its Benefits?

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Podcasts are equivalent to talk radio without live streaming. Information can be prepared and edited prior to being shared. Podcasters have time on their side with regard to preparing and sharing information. They can podcast according to their own schedule while bearing in mind that subscribers will expect the frequency that has been pre-established. They can disseminate relevant information to a target audience from the comforts of their home or office. Podcasts can also benefit the user. Aside from most podcasts being free of charge, the information is accessible anytime and anyplace. Oftentimes it is condensed so that key points are highlighted. Subscribers can enjoy the benefits of having the information come to them regularly via RSS feeds.


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Teachers as podcasters can ensure that content is delivered in a succinct and engaging manner. Student absenteeism becomes less of an issue when podcasts are available to revisit content. Questions that were not raised in class due to shyness or time constraints could very well be answered by way of podcasts. Struggling or unmotivated readers can be better reached since the information is being presented in a user-friendly format. Parents can be made aware of specific lessons, which may enable them to help their son/daughter with assignments. Some educators are concerned that the availability of podcasts gives students less of an incentive to physically attend class. However, research has shown that student attendance is not significantly lower for classes in which instruction and supplemental podcasts are available.[5] Students as podcasters allows them to become actively engaged in their learning. In order to demonstrate mastery of a concept, students can create a podcast that contains an instructional lecture on a topic that is meant to used by future students in subsequent years.[6] This also allows an instructor to build a large library of educational podcasts in far less time than it would take if the instructor were recording each episode by him or herself. This constructivist approach is known to yield long-lasting results. Podcasts are also being used in some medical school curricula, and gives students a way to "read" or review texts from books or lectures while walking or driving to class. Podcasts can be a significant aid for auditory learners.[7] Creating podcasts in the classroom can also have many benefits for the students. Knowing that they can potentially have a large audience, students will feel like they have a purpose and be intrinsically motivated to produce a good product. This can be very valuable. [8]

Getting Started

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At the very least, every podcaster needs a computer, a microphone, and a broadband Internet connection. [9] Choosing the right microphone is key. There are two types to consider: unidirectional and omnidirectional. A unidirectional microphone is beneficial when there is only one speaker and background noise must be filtered. An omnidirectional microphone is helpful during multi-speaker podcasts or "soundseeing" tours. [10] For advanced podcasters, a breakout box or a mixer is worth considering. "A breakout box—or external interface—puts audio-in and audio-out jacks for your computer in a convenient form factor—a separate box—which keeps you from messing with the back of your computer when you want to plug or unplug audio gear. Like a breakout box, an external mixer provides inputs and output jacks, but it also allows you to manage multiple input devices, control each device’s volume and equalizer settings, and combine the sources in a single stereo (or mono) signal." [11]


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The basic software mentioned below is free to download and free to use. First, a program such as Audacity is needed to record and/or edit audio. Before uploading your file to a blog or other location on the internet, it is necessary to convert the file to MP3 format. This can be done via iTunes. Next, software such as iTunes is required to listen to your audio. The final necessity is software that will allow the user to upload the file to the internet.

Above information courtesy Jason Van Orden [12]

Host Sites

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There are several sites that are equipped to host a podcast. Here are a few:

Podcast Dos

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There are many points to consider when creating an effective podcast. Keeping a few suggestions in mind can make a difference in the overall value of the finished product. Here are some guidelines for creating an excellent podcast.

1. In order to hold the attention of your audience, keep your podcast relevant and concise.

2. Eliminate background noise.

3. Plan what you are going to say before you start recording.

4. Speaking clearly and annunciating while using adequate volume will allow audiences to have an enjoyable listening experience.

5. Use proper grammar and exceptional speaking skills.

6. Use suitable, soft background music and fitting sound effects.

7. Be entertaining and likeable


Podcasts Don'ts

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There are a few things to be avoided when creating a podcast.


1. Add comments that are irrelevant to the topic.

2. Say anything that will reflect poorly on your school, class or self.

3. Pause often or say, “Um.”

4. Use redundant language.

5. Speak in a monotone voice.

Noteworthy Podcasts

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The following podcasts can be found in the iTunes library:

Podcasts - a new way to study

Learning to Speak Spanish with Discover Spanish gives examples of how to pronounce words and encourages listeners to do the same. Each is about 15 minutes and presents a thematic grouping of words and sentences.

Classic Poetry Aloud offers readings from a huge variety of poets. Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and many more are recited.

Tech Talk 4 Teachers is about teaching and learning with technology. A large variety of topics are covered.

Grammar Girl gives tips for students on how to be better writers.

How to Subscribe to Podcasts

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Subscribing to podcasts is pretty simply especially if you use itunes. All you need to do start the program by clicking the "iTunes Store" link in the left-hand column and then click "Podcasts." When you see a podcast that you might like, click "Subscribe." New episodes will be automatically downloaded to your computer and transferred to your iPod or iPhone. If you don't use iTunes, you need to search for the website of a podcast and find its RSS feed. Select and copy the feed and then paste it into an RSS reader such as Feedly or the Web-based Google Reader. When a new episode appears, download the audio or video file for playback on your computer or copy it to your MP3 player or phone so that you can watch it later.[13]

How to Unubscribe to Podcasts

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Many times you lose interest or no longer want to subscribe to a podcast. It is simple to unsubscribe if you are no longer interested in a podcast to which you are subscribed. Simply highlight the podcast in your library and click the unsubscribe button in the lower left hand corner of the screen. To unsubscribe and delete all files related to the podcast, simply press the Delete key after selecting a podcast.[14]


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The following podcasts can be found in the iTunes library:

Rotten Tomato Show presents movie reviews at their funniest. Quick and to the point reviews make viewers either want to run to or away from the theaters.

Being Healthy For Busy People offers tips and ideas about maintaining a healthy lifestyle in spite of having a busy life.

Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know from the company How Stuff Works focuses on historical events that seem to involve conspiracy theories.

Hi My Name is Mark is a podcast recorded by Blink-182 member Mark Hoppus. Discusses music and anything else that is on his mind.

Ideas for Podcasting in the Classroom

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Podcasting is a way of easily distributing a series of audio or video files on the internet. (it can also be used to distribute PDF documents.) How can you use podcasting in Education? On this site you will find a few idea, but these are just a few ideas for podcasting in the classroom. Really any activity that involves oral presentation can probably be adapted to create a podcast series.

For ideas on instructional uses of podcasting, click on the project names on the left. For more information about creating a podcast, read on!

You may have already used audio and video in your class. Is that podcasting? Almost, but technically, no. For an audio or video file to be a podcast, two things have to happen. First, the file has to be online. That means it’s stored on a publicly-addressable server. It could be stored on your school’s server, or you could purchase server space through a number of services. Second, your file needs to be available as part of a subscription. The second step can be a little more complicated, but luckily there are many free services that will help you create the subscription file.

Listed below, you will find several resources that you might find helpful on the technical aspects of creating a podcast. Remember that there are many, many ways of creating and publishing a podcast using different programs, services, and tools. Look at several to find one with which you are comfortable.[15]


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  1. Retrieved July 31, 2011 from
  2. Retrieved July 31, 2011 from
  3. Ovadia, M. (2010). Retrieved August 1, 2011 from
  4. Retrieved March 1, 2013 from
  5. Hew, K. F. (2009) accessed August 2, 2011
  6. Hew, K. F. (2009) accessed August 2, 2011
  7. Boulos, M, Inocencio Maramba, and Steve Wheeler. (2006) accessed August 2, 2011
  8. Vincent, T. (n.d.) accessed August 2, 2011
  9. Orden, J., V. (2008). Retrieved August 1, 2011 from
  10. Affleck, A., W. (2008, October 6). Retrieved August 1, 2011 from
  11. Affleck, A., W. (2008, October 6). Retrieved August 1, 2011 from
  12. Orden, J., V. (2008). Retrieved August 2, 2011 from
  13. Retrieved March 1, 2013 from
  14. Retrieved March 1, 2013 from
  15. Ideas for Podcasting in the Classroom