Creating Podcasts for Online Learning

From E-Learning Faculty Modules


Contents

Module Summary

“Podcasts,” serialized audio broadcast on the Internet and Web, generally have a lower cost of development than video. They are easy to consume, and may be subscribed to by listeners (and learners). This segment addresses what podcasts are, how they are created (generally speaking), the sorts of technologies used (particularly free ones), some common podcast conventions, and how podcasts may be used in online learning.

Takeaways

Learners will...

  • review what a podcast is
  • consider how podcasts are created
  • contemplate the sorts of technologies used to create podcasts and free technologies (and resources) in particular
  • review some common conventions of podcasts and the purposes of the respective features
  • consider some ways that podcasts may be used in online learning

Module Pretest

1. What is a podcast?

2. How are podcasts created?

3. What sorts of technologies are used to create podcasts? What are some free technologies that may be used for the creation of podcasts? What are some free resources?

4. What are some common conventions of podcasts? What are the purposes of these particular features? What are some legal considerations for podcasts?

5. What are some ways that podcasts may be used in online learning?

Main Contents

This section contains the central ideas of the particular article.

1. What is a podcast?

A podcast is “an episodic series of digital audio files” that are downloadable to computers and mobile devices; these may be subscribed to using Really Simple Syndication (RSS) or other methods, so listeners may access the contents from the Internet on release and publication. The name is a portmanteau term for “iPod” (a mobile media player) and “broadcast,” and this was created by BBC journalist Ben Hammersley in 2004 (“Podcast,” May 29, 2017) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast). Podcasts may be delivered off of websites without much other media, but some are delivered with visuals (photos) and sometimes some links.

Podcasts are usually theme-based. They may showcase personalities. They may be built around interviews or panel discussions. They may be created from various in-world contexts. They may be dramatizations (like teleplays in the past).

Over a dozen years in, podcasts are still around, and they are still going strong.


2. How are podcasts created?

Planning Contents. Depending on the contents, podcasts may be planned and scripted prior to recording. They may be ad hoc, with surprises along the way (such as person-on-the-street interviews).

Legalities. All text, sound, imagery, and related effects have to be original, and the podcaster has to either own copyright to what is broadcast…or the contents have to be in the public domain…or released through Creative Commons licensure.

Technologies.Podcasts are essentially audio recordings. Depending on the recording device, the software used for the audio capture, and post-recording processing, podcasters can create some high quality contents with low-cost tools.

Radio stations will conduct recordings (interviews, panels) in recording studios with sound engineers and state-of-the-art recording tools for high quality sound. However, in other cases, they may just use a web conferencing tool to interact with interview subjects who are farther away…or a simple telephone with a recording device attached.

A podcast is only a sound file. Typical formats are .mp3, .m4a, and .wma. These formats are properly compressed for easy online delivery.


3. What sorts of technologies are used to create podcasts? What are some free technologies that may be used for the creation of podcasts? What are some free resources?

All mainstream video editing software can output audio files. There are some dedicated software for high level sound recording in sound booths. (It is beyond the purview of this word to mention particular software tools though because this space changes a fair amount.)

For free audio recording, Audacity is a popular tool.

For free music and sound effects, there are some providers that are available through a Creative Commons Search (https://search.creativecommons.org/).


4. What are some common conventions of podcasts? What are the purposes of these particular features? What are some legal considerations for podcasts?

Podcasts may be of any length, but typically, they range from 15 – 20 minutes on the brief end and up to about an hour on the longer ends. The length is determined by how much content is to be covered and the comfortable attention span of the listeners. Longer series (such as broadcasts of audio books) may be done with snippets of audio over time.

Sometimes, podcasts are part of a larger package of multimedia—including text, imagery, videos, and other elements. In other words, the podcasts may not carry all the relevant information.

In terms of legal concerns, podcasts fall under the constraints of various aspects of media law. Basically, the broadcaster has to own copyright to what is broadcast or has to have permission to broadcast and publish content belonging to others. The broadcast information should be factual, and people's reputations should not be harmed by the information. People cannot generally be secretly recorded but must give their assent to be recorded. (There are nuances to this.) The podcast should not fall afoul of obscenity laws.


5. What are some ways that podcasts may be used in online learning?

Professional Podcasts. For online learning, professional podcasts may be used to enliven the learning and to connect learners to professional practitioners in the field. If podcasts are being recorded by professionals in a particular field, these are easy to access and often free. Podcasts are light-weight technologically, and it is easy enough to set up accesses via RSS or direct links. Podcasts are often topical and timely.

Learner-created Podcasts. Learners may create their own podcasts based on what they learned about a particular topic, for example, in a form of “jigsaw learning.” These podcasts may then be shared among the learners, so they can benefit from each other’s learning. Podcasts may be shared in a closed online learning environment if there are any potential legal considerations (“fair use” enables the integration of contents for learning, but “fair use” does not extend beyond the walls of a classroom).

Or learners may co-create podcasts for in-online-class or broader sharing. Group projects offer various types of authentic and deep learning.

Examples

Some examples of effective online podcasts are available in the “Resources” section below.

How To

How to create a podcast depends on too many factors to define a step-by-step sequence here.

Possible Pitfalls

Possible pitfalls of creating podcasts for online learning are that once this effort is started, it is expected to continue. Serialization of podcasts requires consistent work to deliver new contents to quality. There is constant work to attract and maintain an audience.

Beyond that, the risks are likely just similar to any form of publishing—with risks of controversy, misunderstandings, and possible social strife, depending on the topic. Also, there are risks of going live with contents, which requires careful intellectual property (IP) handling, careful respect of people’s privacy, legal recording of others (one-party consent, two-party consent), and so on.

Those who are new to sound recording and radio may need to train in important technologies, conveying information through voice and sound, recording methods (to control for ambient sound), and other aspects.

Module Post-Test

1. What is a podcast?

2. How are podcasts created?

3. What sorts of technologies are used to create podcasts? What are some free technologies that may be used for the creation of podcasts? What are some free resources?

4. What are some common conventions of podcasts? What are the purposes of these particular features? What are some legal considerations for podcasts?

5. What are some ways that podcasts may be used in online learning?

References

“Podcast.” (2017, May 29). Wikipedia. Retrieved June 6, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast.

Extra Resources

International Spy Museum Spycast https://www.spymuseum.org/multimedia/spycast/all/

National Public Radio “Programs & Podcasts” http://www.npr.org/

Silver Bullet Podcast https://www.cigital.com/podcast/

The Washington Post "Can He Do That?" (series) https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/can-he-do-that-trump-podcast/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_canhedothat-promo%3Ahomepage%2Fstory