Friday, October 7, 2011


Want to add a little variety to your course? Want to Address Different Learning Strategies of the Students You Serve? Well adding podcasts just might be your answer!

In an elemental sense, a podcast is an audio recording that has been compressed into a MP3 file and distributed over the internet to multimedia players. Podcasting and its distribution using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed aggregation can be traced back to 2003 and the work of Adam Curry and Dave Winer. Podcasts can be played on computers (PCs/Macs) or downloaded onto MP3 devices like iPods as well as other MP3 players.  Although they get their name from the contraction of the words “iPod” and “broadcasting,” you don’t have to have an iPod to listen to them!  Podcasts are flexible and portable, as such, students or anyone wanting to tune-in can listen to them not only on a desktop, but also on the move – jogging, working out, on the Metro, or travelling.



There are great podcast created in nearly all fields including: psychology, political science, biology, and music to name a few. Many institutions such as DUKE, Harvard, MIT or University of Maryland have created podcasts for public consumption where anyone may subscribe.

Podcasts allow instructors the ability to address different learning strategies that students may prefer. For example, in a hybrid or online course where most of the material may be visual, a podcast provides an opportunity to connect students to the material in an alternative manner.

Sources of Podcasts

There are many resources available to locate appropriate podcasts to use or subscribe to. Alternatively, instructors may easily create their own podcasts for instructional use. Research some of the following options to see what is available in your discipline. You may like to start with iTunes or iTunesU.


itunes logo2


The iTunes Store provides a one stop shop for listening to a huge range of free audio and video podcasts – over 150,000 from independent creators, as well as big names such as HBO, NPR, C-SPAN, ESPN.  You can listen to podcasts on your computer, any MP3 player, iPod, iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, although you will need to download the iTunes application first.   Find out more about finding, subscribing to and managing iTunes podcasts here.

Other podcast sites

BBC Podcasts - podcasts from BBC radio stations

LearnOutLoud - one-stop destination for audio and video learning (many free)

Podictionary – Podictionary is the audio word-a-day from  Charles Hodgson

iTunes U – a powerful distribution system for everything from lectures to language lessons, films to labs, audiobooks to tours

80 excellent podcasts for every kind of classroom, Click the link and find dozens of podcast sources separated by general discipline areas.


Create Your Own Podcast

Blackboard allows you the opportunity to create your own podcasts with the help of Blackboard Collaborate or Wimba. You may also use Audacity or GarageBand (MAC) as alternative external resources to create podcasts; although you will need to know a bit more about compressing and editing them.

Creating podcasts are a great way to add your personal insights on course material for your students or a way to drill-down on specific content that your students may need additional support in understanding. You may also use Podcasts as a recap of your face-to-face instruction or as a way to present guest lecturers. Some faculty find that delivering lecture material by podcasts frees up the classroom or synchronous discussions for more focused deliberations and case studies.

Some of the earliest research on Podcasting in higher education (Harkness 2006) found that initially faculty were more likely to be the producers of podcasts while students the consumers. But the use of podcasting is not limited to faculty use only. In fact, some faculty encourage student collaboration and podcast production and editing. Podcasting is also being used by administrations for a multiplicity of purposes.

If you think you will need a little help getting one of these recorded, professional development workshops are scheduled through the Center for Academic Technology at the University of the District of Columbia to get you up-to-speed!

Click this link to review the schedule for October and November as well as get registered for a session:


Harkness, S.S. J. (2006, August). Podcasting: A pocket full of power and intellectual property issues. (Paper presented at the 102nd American Political Science Association Annual National Conference, Philadelphia).

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