Somewhere in the world right now – perhaps within eyeshot – there’s a student sitting on the Internet. This student doesn’t have a lot of money or free time, but is looking for something interesting and preferably free. Podcasts can provide a solution to this problem.
According to PodcastBlaster.com, podcasting is “a new way of distributing audio broadcasts using the Internet.” People who listen to podcasts download mp3 files to their computer or mp3 player – no iPod required – and listen to them. There are podcasts for virtually any kind of interest, and many of them are free. Podcasts can be conveniently listened to at any time. The files downloaded to the user’s device are available until the user erases them.
“I’ve heard of podcasting, although I haven’t ever really used it due to the fact I don’t have an iPod,” said Scott Bergoch, a communications major and WBUL DJ. “However, I feel that podcasting is a great thing. We, as a society, are on the go so much – what is wrong with using portable media?”
Podcastblaster.com states that, “Podcasters usually use a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) or Atom feed to push their content to subscribers.” This makes it easy for individuals and groups to create their own radio shows, poetry readings, talk shows or any other kind of information they wish to make available. Even popular radio shows and television networks use podcasting to make their shows more readily available to fans.
“I’ve heard of podcasting before and I think it’s an awesome idea,” education major Carissa Hall said.”I get podcasts from my old church.”
But not everyone’s so excited about the tech craze.
“I know what podcasting is, but I think that it’s not necessary or useful for anything, really. I don’t listen to podcasts,” biomedical science junior Cheryl Little said.
Podcasting is on the rise and has been available since 2003. According to an article by Bryan Allen on Transbat.com, podcasting originated in Web radio and was created by Adam Curry, Tristan Louis and Dave Winer using RSS technology. Podcasts started out as “simple voice recordings, but soon grew to include music files.” By 2004, podcasting was popping up all over the globe and has now emerged onto the scene with its integration into Apple’s iTunes software.
According to Apple.com, iTunes offers podcasts featuring “shows from big names such as ABC News, CNN, ESPN, NPR and more.” If you have iTunes, click on “Podcasts” in the menu and an entire assortment will appear. The podcasts are also rated so users can check out popular podcasts. They are also sorted into categories for special interests, including virtually any topic one could imagine: from news, politics and public broadcasting to TV, films and comedy.
But podcasts are not just for entertainment purposes. They are now becoming a teaching method as well. According to PodcastBlaster.com, professors’ podcasts “range from a lecture-type series of programs (to) instructional programs; there are even such specialized content as nature shows or science and technology shows.” Some educational podcasts include Insta Spanish Lessons, which teaches listeners to speak Spanish, 12 Byzantine Rulers, a podcast designed by a professor in New York to teach history students about the Byzantine Empire and Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, a podcast about starting and running businesses.
The term podcasting may imply that listeners need an iPod or another portable mp3 player, but that’s not the case – though a computer that plays mp3s is required. In fact, anyone with a computer and Internet connection can create their own podcasts. It takes a bit of reading and learning, but students can create their own news programs, podcast songs if they’re musicians or even create podcasts to get information out about books they’re writing.
Those interested in learning how to create a podcast can log onto radio.about.com and search for “podcasting.” For more general information on podcasting, simply type the word “podcast” into a search engine.