Just the Basics
by Kelly Gatewood
Envision a world where people
can choose any topic they wish
to learn more about and, using the
Internet, select sites that will regularly deliver
information on that topic to a computer. Maybe
they want to find out more about differentiated
learning or how to speak Spanish. Maybe they
want to give their students additional opportu-
nities to learn the content of a course. Podcasts
contain information on almost any topic, de-
livered via the Internet in audio or video form.
They allow learners to access information at
anytime from anywhere, with no constraints—
just the free flow of information.
As a result, a revolution is taking place in
education, leading to new ways of teaching
and learning. This article helps readers gain a
basic understanding of podcasting. It provides
a definition of podcasting, describes how the
technology works, how to locate podcasts, and
how they are being used by teachers.
Kelly Gatewood is an Assistant Professor of Educa-
tion and Graduate Studies at Peru State College in
Nebraska, where she teaches instructional technol-
ogy courses in the masters program. Her research
interests include instructional/educational technolo-
gies and differentiated learning.
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What Is Podcasting? in MP3 format) for listening at the iTunes, and Doppler Radio. These
According to the Pew Internet and user’s convenience.” Though used programs are tools used to subscribe
American Life Project (2005), more overwhelmingly for music, podcasting to what is known as RSS feeds, which
than 22 million Americans own MP3 is a method of publishing both audio supply downloadable files. RSS stands
players and more than 6 million have and video using the Internet (Clyde for Real Simple Syndication.
downloaded podcasts “to enjoy at 2005, 54). When people subscribe to Every time a new show is pro-
their leisure.” An MP3 player is a a podcast, files are delivered to their duced and made available by the pod-
portable device that is usually smaller computers whenever new information caster, subscribers are notified by their
than a cassette tape. The device, often or “feeds” become available. They can aggregator, which then downloads
associated with downloading music listen to or view the recorded material the feed to the listeners’ computers or
from the Internet, stores, organizes, on their computer, or it can be down- MP3 players. “The feed is really just
and plays digital music files. An iPod® loaded to a mobile device such as an the address of the podcast, which the
is an example of an MP3 player. Many iPod or other MP3 player. software will go to each time it wants
people use the word iPod to mean to check for a new episode” (BBC
MP3 player in the same way that the How Does Podcasting Radio 2007). The podcatcher retrieves
brand name Kleenex® is used to mean Work? files enclosed in the RSS feed and au-
facial tissue. Software programs, known as podcast tomatically adds the files to each user’s
The word podcasting is derived aggregators or podcatchers, must be preferred media player—a computer
from two words: iPod and broadcast. downloaded to facilitate listening to or mobile device.
The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative or viewing a podcast. The software
(2005) described podcasting as a enables subscription to and man- Locating a Podcast
“software and hardware combination agement of podcasts. According to Once the software is downloaded, it is
that permits automatic download- Newsweek (2006), the most popular time to locate a “show.” Podcast direc-
ing of audio files (most commonly podcast software includes iPodder, tories are a great method for locating
Top Podcast Directories • iTunes at www.apple.com/itunes/store/podcasts.html
According to Podcasting News (2006), these are the top is Apple’s proprietary (non-Web) directory, which
podcast directories: drives a huge amount of traffic to many
• Podcasting News’ Podcast Directory at www.podcastingnews. podcasts.
com is the largest user-built directory of podcasts. iTunes Windows and Macintosh download: www.
• Podcast Alley at www.podcastalley.com, one of the most apple.com/itunes/download
popular podcasting sites, has a large podcast directory. • Doppler Radio Window’s download: www.dopplerradio.
• Odeo.com at www.odeo.com offers a directory and podcast net.
service. • Yahoo.com has a podcast search and tag-based index
• Juice (formerly known as iPodder) has an established, at http://podcast.yahoo.com.
very large podcast directory, as well as a premier podcast
receiver that can be downloaded at http://juicereceiver. Top Video Podcasting Directories
sourceforge.net. • Genwi at www.genwi.com is a video podcast directory
• PodcastPickle.com is the only podcast directory with a that features tagging and daily top episodes.
pickle mascot! The site features a content rating system • MeFeedia at http://mefeedia.com describes itself as “the
based on the familiar movie system (G, PG, PG-13, R). original videoblog directory.”
• Digital Podcast at www.digitalpodcast.com is a site with • PodcastVideos at www.podcastvideos.org is a directory
podcast listings, news, and forums. focused only on video podcasts.
• PodcastDirectory.com from Penguin Radio is a podcast • VideoPodcast.tv at www.videopodcasts.tv is “your video
directory that offers listings of podcasts by regions, cities, podcast directory.”
languages, and formats, along with podcast reviews. • VlogDir at http://vlogdir.com is a videoblog directory
• A Podcast directory is available at Podcast.net with listings that features new videoblogs and a random selection
by category or alphabetically for thousands of podcasts of videoblogs.
covering a wide variety of topics and interests. • Vodstock at www.vodstock.com is a video podcast direc-
• iPodderX at http://ipodderx.com allows individuals interested in tory that features user ratings and a recommendation
podcasts to create, share, and discover top shows at no cost. system.
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podcasts. Using any search engine, for listening or viewing on your to demonstrate their understanding
type the phrase “postcast directory” computer and iPod, freeing learning of content, for digital storytelling,
in the search box and receive a list of from constraints of the classroom and to learn to speak effectively, and for
many different links to directories for its clock” (Apple Education 2007). presentations, among many other
podcasts. Directories differ, but most They can be used to introduce new uses. Podcasts enable students to as-
allow a search for podcasts by title material, support current lessons, or sume a meaningful role in their own
and description, keywords, location, review material covered in class. learning, one in which they take
host, or episodes. pride because they feel ownership
Using one of the podcast direc- Using Podcasts for Professional (Anderson 2005, 42). They allow
tories, select a podcast that sounds Development students one more way to express
interesting. One of the best ways A second option that podcasts themselves.
to locate something of interest is offer teachers is convenient profes-
to search by keyword. Using words sional development. Most teachers Communicating with Podcasts
from your content or teaching area, lead very busy lives. There is limited A fourth use for podcasts is to
such as science or elementary can be time for staying current on instruc- communicate effectively with com-
helpful for an effective search. After tional technology skills or important munity and parents. Podcasts can
finding a podcast, listen to it on a issues in education. Podcasts can supply parents with information pro-
computer or subscribe to it for ongo- give teachers the freedom to select vided by their child’s district, school,
ing access. Selecting the Subscribe what, when, and where they learn. or teacher. “A weekly report on the
button allows regular delivery of the If a teacher wants to learn more goings on at the school, interviews
RSS feed to a computer. The process about effective communication with with teacher and pupils involved
is similar to subscribing to a maga- parents, he or she can subscribe to an in special projects, extracts from
zine except, instead of reading a educational podcast on communicat- debates, plays and concerts, and
hard copy of information delivered ing with parents. The teacher could reviews of sports reports can bring
to a mailbox, a podcast is listened to listen to the podcast at his or her parents more effectively into the
and/or viewed in electronic form on a desk directly from the computer or school community” (Jellycast 2006).
computer or portable device. choose to sync a mobile device and Podcasts provide an additional way of
listen to shows on the drive home, at keeping parents informed.
How Can Teachers Use the gym, or while in the tub. Content
Podcasts? is now available anytime, anywhere. Examples of How Podcasts
Podcasts can be used for many edu- The technology opens the door to a Are Being Used
cational purposes. Four of the most way of learning that was not available • Free Guides
effective uses include curriculum until recently. and Tutorials at
augmentation, professional develop- www.guidesand
ment, material presentation by both Creating Podcast Presentations tutorials.com is a
teachers and students, and effective A third educational use for pod- free-use site cre-
communication with community and casts is custom information sharing. ated by technol-
parents. The technology offers “a unique ogy educators that
opportunity to provide on-demand provides directions
Using Existing Podcasts as content in an easily accessible and on many of the
Curriculum cost-effective format” (Eash 2006, technologies that
Podcasts can supply an almost 16). Teachers can record lectures, teachers want
endless variety of content in audio lab directions, project overviews, to learn more
and video form. The technology gives and review material—and make
teachers one more instructional tool it all available for students to
that can be used to communicate download to their com-
effectively with their students. The puters and portable
option is especially useful for address- devices. Students can
ing the needs of students who prefer create podcasts
audio or visual learning. “Podcasts
can deliver educational content
92 KAPPA DELTA PI RECORD • WINTER 2008
about. The Web site also demon- • Broward County Schools News 2 • Coulee Kids at www.podcast.
strates how podcasting is being Go at www.podcastingnews.com/ net/show/75801 offers podcast
used by classroom teachers. details/www.browardschools.com/ created by 7th graders at Longfel-
• Mabry Middle School’s Web site feed/podcast.xml/view.htm offers low Middle School in La Crosse,
at http://mabryonline.org is an podcasts that feature information Wisconsin.
example of how one school has about the district, awards and • An article about Jeanne Halderson
integrated podcasting into provid- honors earned, innovative pro- and her students is available at
ing information and promoting grams, and educational opportu- http://thejournal.com/articles/17607
learning. Click on Podcast Central nities for students. (Anderson 2005).
to see examples of classroom uses • Mike Breeds Chenango Valley Pod-
of podcasts. cast Center at www.podcastingnews. Closing Thoughts
• Jamestown Elementary’s Web site com/details/www.cvcsd.stier.org/ Podcasts are changing the way we
at http://slapcast.com/users/ Podcast/mbreed/Secure/Uploads/ teach, learn, and communicate.
Jamestown provides links to mbreed.xml/view.htm provides They offer one more method to
podcasts made by Jamestown New York State Regents Earth help teachers build better curricula,
Elementary. Science Chemistry Review and provide their students with differ-
• Biology at Wenatchee High School student podcasts from Chenango entiated instruction, increase their
Room 302 at www.podcastingnews. High School in Bringhampton, NY. knowledge of educational topics
com/details/whs.wsd.wednet. • Podcasts for Teachers (Techpod) through ongoing professional de-
edu/sci/lorenson/Podcasts/lorenson. at www.podcastingnews.com/ velopment, and stay in touch with
dtd/view.htm demonstrates how details/www.podcastforteachers. communities and parents. Podcasts
podcasting is used in biology org/feed.xml/view.htm offers pod- allow learners to “more effectively
class. casting and educational technol- assimilate ‘chunks’ of learning over
• Coley Cast at http://feeds.feeburner. ogy for K–12 and all educators— time versus an all-day session” (Pol-
com/coleycast is the official pod- live from the Bronx! lack 2005, 2).
cast of Room 34. Fifth graders at • Radio Willow Web at www. Joining the revolution is easy.
Tovashal Elementary School in mpsomaha.org/willow/radio is a Simply download the required
Murrieta, CA, share what they’re podcast for kids and by kids, pro- software, select a podcast, and sit
learning in the classroom. Visit Mr. duced by 5th graders at Willow- back. Get ready to join the growing
Coley’s Web site at www.mrcoley. dale Elementary School in Omaha, number of educators “casting the
com. Of particular note is Coley Nebraska. Each new show is called net” for changes in teaching and
Cast #9 Ellis Island Day at www2. a Willowcast and can be heard as learning.
murrieta.k12.ca.us/tovashal/bcoley/ an MP3 file.
coleycast/coleycast09.htm. • Radio Cambridge Podcast at www. References
Anderson, L. S. 2005. Podcasting: Transforming middle
ahisd.net/campuses/cambridge/ schoolers into ‘middle scholars.’ Technological
Horizons in Education 33(5): 42.
radio/radio.htm is produced by el- Apple Education. 2007. Podcasting in education, content
delivered. Available at: www.apple.com/education/
ementary students at Cambridge products/ipod/podcasting.html.
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cast. Available at: www.bbc.co.uk/radio/waystolisten/
• U.S. History Podcasts at podcasts/guide.
Clyde, L. A. 2005. Some new Internet applications
http://mrturner. coming now to a computer near you. Teacher
Librarian 33(1): 54.
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should know about . . . podcasting. Boulder, CO:
students in Mr. Turner’s EDUCAUSE. Available at: www.educause.edu/ir/library/
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Available at: www.jellycast.com/examples.html.
Newsweek. Podcast software. 2006. Newsweek, April
26. Available at: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9777603/
Pew Internet and American Life Project. 2005. Podcast-
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