An Introduction to Podcasting

Podcasts are audio, and now video programs that are accessible on desktop computers, laptops, iPods, Pocket PCs, Palm handhelds, and other devices. There are three kinds of podcasts. Audio podcasts are usually an MP3 file and are the most common types of podcasts. Enhanced podcasts can have images to go along with the audio. They can also have chapter markers, making it easier to skip to different portions of an episode. Enhanced podcasts are an AAC file and are not supported by all devices. Video podcasts are movies, complete with sound. Video podcasts can be in a variety of formats, but MPEG-4 is the most popular.

In most classrooms the teacher will find podcast episodes for students to listen to or watch. Sets of laptops, iPods, Palm handhelds, Pocket PCs, or other devices can be loaded with podcast episodes so students can use them at their desks, on field trips, in the library, or at home.
Creating podcasts has many educational benefits. Students are able to create a product to share with a potentially world-wide audience. Their podcast can be listed in iTunes, right along with podcasts from The Discovery Channel, Disney, and NPR. Knowing that there is a real-world audience gives students purpose and motivation to create a spectacular product. The process of putting together an audio recording is extremely valuable and is certainly a cross-curricular experience.
                                                                                                    . July 2009

Here are a few examples of educational podcasts:
Grammar Girls Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing
Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Covering the grammar rules and word choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers, Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules. Whether English is your first language or second language, Grammar Girl’s punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer. Mignon Fogarty is the creator and host of Grammar Girl. Grammar Girl is a Quick and Dirty Tips podcast.

Source: About Grammar Girls. Grammar Girls. July 2009.

Mathgrad Podcast discuss everyday math for everyday people. The goal is to discuss the mathematics behind many real life topics in a way that even the worst mathphobe will gain some insight. Topics range from the math underlying voting schemes to the mathematics of loan payments, ect.


“Storynory is an online treasure trove of audio stories. Here you will find a mixture of new stories, fairy tales, and specially adapted myths and histories. We also have a sprinkling of verse.
We have published an audio story every week since November 2005. Storynory has grown and grown in popularity, and now around a quarter of a million mp3 files are downloaded every month from our servers.  Our stories are read by Natasha Gostwick and her clear story-telling voice has won a place in the hearts of children and adults all over the world.”

Source: About Us. Storynory. July 2009.

Willow Web Radio
Radio WillowWeb is a podcast for kids and by kids from the students at Willowdale Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska. Each new show is called a Willowcast. Each Willowcast can be heard on WillowWeb as an mp3 digital audio file.

Coolee Kids
“The Coulee Kids’ podcast is brought to you by seventh grade students at Longfellow Middle School in La Crosse, Wisconsin. School in the Coulee consists of 54 heterogeneously grouped children who work together to produce this podcast during writing class. Since our program takes place in an integrated learning environment, we often include content from social studies, science, and math.”
Source: Coolee Kids. July 2009.
Podcasts are audio broadcasts that can be heard on most devices.

MP3s are the most commonly used podcast file.

iTunes is a podcast aggregator.  You can search for individual podcasts or series and download them to an MP3 player.

Willow Web Radio has won great acclaim as one of the best educational uses for podcasting.  You can subscribe to their series on iTunes.