Podcasting - A New Way To Communicate
Article by Rick Leinecker, January 30, 2007

Things change fast in technology. It was just yesterday that I enjoyed reading articles online because they are current and up-to-date. I could search and find just about anything I want to know. But a shift is underway in how information is presented on the Internet. Now I find myself looking for content I can listen to instead of having to read. For me, listening is more convenient since I can multitask and do other things at the same time. And what's even better, I can put the audio files on my iPod and take them with me. Now I don't even have to be in front of the computer to listen.

Internet pages have had embedded sounds for a long time. Many sites play background music, and some let you hear sound effects. Now, however, audio data can come in the form of podcasts. These are single MP3 files and collections of MP3 files that are structured on Web pages in such a way that they can either be listened to through a Web browser while you're near your computer, or transferred to an MP3 device such as an iPod.

I took this new method of information presentation to heart. I now podcast all of my class lectures. Students who miss class for some reason can listen to what they missed. Students who are unsure of the material can re-listen. And students can review for quizzes and tests with the podcasts. It's a winning addition for students.

Listening to the podcasts is easy. Students simply go to the web site (http://adt.rccbusnet.us/podcasts/), select the course, and click on the lecture that they want to hear. The can also use the link that says Subscribe to podcasts via RSS to synchronize their podcast software such as iTunes with the available podcasts.

Creating the podcasts is easy, too. I have a digital recorder that I turn on and put in my shirt pocket at the beginning of class. It records the entire class period. I then plug the recorder into the USB port, edit the sound file, upload the sound file to the server, and add a link to the web page. The entire process takes me about five minutes per class. And the return on my time far outweighs the five minutes. I find that the questions I used to answer about what we did yesterday when a student missed class goes away. And for students who don't understand a topic, I ask them to start by re-listening to the lecture that contains the topic.

I have bought into podcasting to a significant degree. Because of this, I created a special Web application for faculty at RCC who want to podcast their classroom content. The Web application makes it even easier to create the podcasts since a lot of the technical stuff is done automatically. I just gave a seminar to show faculty how to use the application and do the podcasting. I'm waiting to see what exciting things they do, and to hear how students benefit from the additional learning modality.

That's it for Podcasting, which is a great new way to communicate.