Podcasting in Higher Education



I am very interested in the use of podcasting in higher education.  Podcasts are online radio programs that can be downloaded and played on computers or portable devices.  University lectures can also be repackaged as podcasts.  Podcasts can be produced by amateurs as well as established broadcasters, and this has led to the development of may niche podcasts that might otherwise have difficulty finding an audience.

Podcasting at CIT

I wrote an article on podcasting for Education magazine in 2006.  But a lot has changed since then.  I was very excited by the ability of students to play podcast content offline.  This meant that students could review class materials when they were off campus and didn't have Internet access.  A decade later, however, students are rarely disconnected from the Internet, and so this is less important.  Statistics from my own podcasts of CIT classes support this.  In the past year (up to 7/03/2014) 15,898 videos were downloaded, but a further 5778 were streamed.  I expect that over time more will be streamed rather than downloaded.

Apple is the leading provider of podcasting solutions but it has been very focused on consumers and has become less concerned with supporting content providers.  I have stopped packaging my classes as podcasts, and now post class recordings to YouTube instead.  Posting videos to YouTube takes minutes a week, whereas providing them as podcasts took hours.

Podcasts vs. YouTube

YouTube is not only easier and faster for me, but it is more familiar for students.  Most students use YouTube everyday.  The idea that content is something that one downloads and possesses, seems increasingly old-fashioned to them. Many young people do not even have iTunes installed on their machines.

I have noticed, however, that the size of the audience for my classes is very different on iTunesU and YouTube.  My iTunesU classes have a bigger audience than those on YouTube.  And the audience for YouTube videos tails off quite rapidly over time, whereas my much older iTunesU content still attracts an audience. This suggests that despite the relative lack of hype, iTunesU is a good place to attract viewers for this kind of content.  The vast bulk of my podcast viewers are outside of Ireland, while the majority of my YouTube viewers are in Ireland. This suggests that my students prefer YouTube.

Podcasts as Reading Lists

There is a lot of high quality, relevant, and up-to-date content available online for downloading.  I encourage students to subscribe to podcasts that may be relevant.  For example, I ask my computing students to subscribe to NPR's Technology podcast.  This is weekly roundup of technology related radio segments broadcast on NPR.  However there are a great many podcasts available on a variety of themes.  The iTunes music store is the best place to find them and subscribe.

I am very excited by two tools that allow lecturers like me to compile custom podcast feeds of specific themes.

Huffduffer.com is a social bookmarking site for radio segments and podcasts.  Lecturers can tag any interesting programmes they find online, and students can list these segments on the website with a single click, or even subscribe to them as a podcast and have them download  automatically.  Each radio segment can be tagged for each searching and sorting.  For example, I maintain a list of segments for students of my COMP6023 (html/rss/iTunes)Web Publishing class. But these can also be tagged by theme, e.g. Copyright (html/rss/iTunes). These custom feeds can be a great way to provide additional information to students.

Nation Public Radio (NPR) allows users to generate custom podcast feeds of NPR radio segments based on keywords. These are automatically updated as new content tagged with those keywords becomes available. Such feeds are not curated, like the Huffduffer feeds,  but once set up require no maintenance.  Some of those I have generated are listed above, but you can easily make your own at the NPR website.



Colin's CIT Podcasts

  1. ISWD (2008)

  2. COMP6021 (2010)

  3. SOFT6007 (2011)

  4. SOFT6008 (2011)

  5. SOFT6007/DCOM1 (2012)

  6. SOFT6007/COM1 (2012)

Colin's Recommended Podcasts

  1. NPR Technology

  2. NPR Education

  3. WNYC On The Media

  4. PRI This American Life

  5. BBC Mark Kermode's Film Reviews

Colin's Curated Feeds

  1. COMP6023 (html / rss / iTunes)

  2. COMP7004 (html / rss / iTunes)

  3. Copyright (html / rss / iTunes)

  4. Crowd Sourcing (html / rss / iTunes)

  5. Libel (html / rss / iTunes)

  6. Patents (html / rss / iTunes)

  7. Privacy (html / rss / iTunes)

  8. Net Neutrality (html / rss / iTunes)

Colin's NPR Auto-Mixes

  1. Computer Law (rss / iTunes)

  2. Copyright (rss / iTunes)

  3. Facebook (rss / iTunes)

  4. Google (rss / iTunes)

  5. Ireland (rss / iTunes)

  6. Libel (rss / iTunes)

  7. Patents (rss / iTunes)

  8. Privacy (rss / iTunes)

  9. Net Neutrality (rss / iTunes)

  10. Twitter (rss / iTunes)