Podcasting 101

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In this lesson, the uses and benefits of educational podcasting will be explored. As well, learners will experiment with creating their own basic podcast.

Intended Audience

This educational resource is designed for educators at all levels.

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After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • identify some of the uses of podcasting in educational settings
  • recognize some of the benefits of podcasting
  • produce a basic podcast

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  • A podcast is an audio (and often video) file that can be downloaded and played on a computer or portable media player.

Click on the audio link below to start the download of the podcast. Not recommended for dialup connections!

  • For a more in-depth definition, review the Wikipedia page on podcasts found here.

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Introduction to podcasting

Common Craft is company that produces exceptional educational videos on a variety of topics.


Podcasting is a popular and broad-sweeping phenomenon. As such, podcasting provides an invaluable source of authentic and communicative language in use (Brown, 2001). Further, auditory and verbal learners will benefit with the availability of recordings, narrations, and sound effects. With the rising use of digital audio players (with Apple iPods leading the way), podcasting is poised to become an instrumental educational tool.

Ipods by LStollings

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Learning in Hand is an excellent web resource on podcasting.

Focus for reading

  • Think of three questions you have about podcasting
  • Explore this website to find the answers to your questions
  • Throughout your exploration, think about how you might utilize podcasting in your own teaching (or in your personal life)


Podcasts can be listened to practically anywhere and anytime. This time-shifting characteristic is just one of the benefits of podcasting. In essence, this technology allows individuals to become their own 'radio hosts' opening many educational applications such as:

  • recording personal introductions/greetings to new students
  • recording lectures (in fact, in a recent study listeners of podcasted lectures outscored live lecture listeners)
  • providing tutorials
  • telling stories
  • recording class discussions
  • conducting interviews

With minimal investment and scaffolding, students can easily produce their own podcasts to fulfill school assignments. Possible applications include:

  • musical recitals
  • language learning practice
  • reenactments
  • oral reports

In addition, 'ready-made' podcasts are available online. One source for free podcasts is iTunes UTM which offers over 100,000 educational audio and video media files.

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A podcast is a cost-effective means to enhance learning. As podcasting technology grows in popularity, so does the opportunity to leverage its use in educational situations.


  • After exploring the Learning in Hand website, identify three applications for using/creating podcasts in your specific educational environment.
  • Add your application ideas for using/creating podcasts on the course feedback page. Please be sure to add your educational environment so that others in similar settings might benefit from your ideas.

Optional activity

  • Add your application ideas for using/creating podcasts in your personal life on the course feedback page.

How to Start Podcasting

Equipment needed

Podcasting is quite an easy and economical educational technology to explore. Equipment required is readily accessible, and if you already have access to a computer (assuming your computer doesn't not come equipped with a built-in microphone), all you really need is a microphone.


There are a variety of choices here. One option is a stand alone microphone, another option is a microphone/headset combination.

Field Recorders

Another option for capturing a podcast is a handheld field recorder. These recorders allow the user to create digital sound files onto media storage such as a secure digital (SD) card.

Software Options


  • AudacityTM is free, open-source software program which allows the user to create, edit and mix .wav and .mp3 audio files.
  • To view the short Introductory to AudacityTM video below, click the arrow button at bottom left-hand corner of the screen. (If you have a low bandwidth connection, you may want to skip this)

For more information on using Audacity


  • Another option for capturing audio is through the use of SkypeTM (a free Internet telephone service). You can record interviews and discussions (with up to five people) using this software plus the SkypeTM recording add-on by PowerGramo (which starts at about $24 to download)


  • For Mac users, GarageBandTM is a premiere sound recording and editing software feature. As well, users can arrange and compose original music with GarageBand and add a variety of special sound effects.

Other Options

  • There are a number of other options for podcasting software which can be downloaded for a fee. Some examples can be found on the Podcasting Tools site.

Hands On

Hands on by LStollings

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Create your own podcast

In this activity you will create your own podcast.

  • If you don't have software capable of recording a podcast, download a program such as http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ AudacityTM
  • Pre-plan the content of your podcast (this could be a lecture, a reading, a personal introduction to a course.
  • Using the tutorials provided earlier, record your podcast.
  • Playback your podcast and once you are satisfied with your recording, save your work as a .wav file. At this point, do not worry too much about the quality of your recording. In fact, the casual nature of podcasts is often cited as one of their best charms.
  • If you are recording using AudacityTM, you will want to convert the file to an .mp3 file. You will have to download a free add-on to the software. In order to do this, go to Audacity's download page and download the optional LAME MP3 encoder.
  • If you wish, upload your podcast to the course feedback page. Otherwise, do try to share your work with others in some other venue.

Copyright considerations

Creative Commons offers a comprehensive guide titled Podcasting Legal Guide for Canada which outlines important information with regard to Canadian copyright and podcasting. As well, Creative Commons provides a guide which outlines Legal Guidelines for Podcasting in the US.

Where to publish your podcasts

You can upload your podcasts to a website or a blog, or email to individuals, but many podcasters publish their work to the internet. The following are some suggestions as to where you can publish your podcasts for free.

There are also many options as to where you can publish your podcasts for a minimal fee.

Once your podcasts are shared or published, they can be uploaded to an MP3 player allowing users to take these files 'on the road.' This portability is a true benefit in our mobile world.

A primer on RSS feeds

As you begin to publish your work, you will begin to discover the power of RSS feeds. RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. This technology allows individuals publishing blogs, podcasts, news stories etc., to 'push' their most current content to their 'subscribers.' For an introduction to this technology, view Commoncraft's brief video RSS in Plain English.

Web resources

For more information on podcasting, refer to the following resources:

There is a wealth of material on podcasting on the web. The above is just a small sample of available resources.

The beginning

Now that you have begun to explore the world of podcasting, you will soon discover that there is a wealth of online podcasts available for educational use. As observed by Richardson (2006), podcasting gives individuals the chance to create and contribute ideas to "the larger conversation, and it's a way of archiving that contribution for future audiences to use" (p. 116). Have fun, enjoy the creativity of others, and don't be afraid to bring your own imagination to the mike.


Brown, H. D. (2001). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy. New York: Longman Inc.

Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.