Wednesday, May 02, 2007

In Pod we trust

Drove up from Oxford to Telford to the University of Wolverhampton (Telford campus) for a one-day workshop 'Podcasting made easy on a PC'. Luckily, this did not involve any police constables.

I got three things out of the day:

  • A much better definition of what is and what is not a podcast

  • Experience searching for and subscribing to different kinds of podcasts

  • A little bit of practice in making one for myself

What it is, and what it is not. Although they may use the same technology, 'click-to-listen' links and embedded audio on web sites are not, strictly and anorakly speaking, podcasts. A podcast is a regularly up-dated audio file hosted on a server and requested (automatically after first time) for download by a subscriber. The subscriber chooses how they want to listen to the audio files, which they collect on a piece of software called an 'aggregator' (iTunes being an example of one, Doppler another). All this is pulling content to you, as opposed to the creator of the podcast pushing it. All very now, all very Web 2.0. Podcasts can be searched if the person who has created it has bothered to put in searchable descriptions, or tags.

Blimey, there are a lot of podcasts out there! There are some obvious places to go and find them, such as the BBC web site, and there are a lot of web sites that act as search engines or directories. You can also make one yourself and, as long as you have it placed on a server to host it, anyone else can subscribe to it just by pasting in the web address, or url, or 'feed', as I now have learnt to say... Podcasts come in all shapes and sizes, all subjects and (let me tell you) all variations of quality. Pick an interest, go to podcastalley.com, search for it, copy the feed to iTunes, subscribe and listen - your life will change beyond recognition!

As for making them, well that is a lot easier than some of you might think, but also a lot less easy than most of you might think. By which I mean you need to a] keep it short, b] keep it light, and c] prepare well. There's plenty of software to help you do that and we played around with a couple of packages, producing some very varied results. But these things are always harder at the beginning and who amongst you has not recorded their own teenage voice/made their own Top of the Pops when they were young?

I am now considering whether or not to work on a series of podcasts for Henley DL MBA programme members.

1 comment:

Gabriel said...

Podcasts are great, so many people say, but have you thought about using Second Life? Some other schools are already exploring.

I think you'll be interested in the "New Media Consortium". Here you have a couple of links:
http://www.nmc.org/membership
http://www.nmc.org/members

Btw see you in June IRL.

Best regards

gabriel