The term podcasting has become synonymous with Apple and especially Apple's iPod, but in fact you don't need an iPod or an Apple computer in order to create, publish or listen to podcasts.
Misconceptions about podcasting are rife and the term is being used by many to include any audio file that is published to the internet. Whilst this is correct in part, the actual term "Podcast" refers to a series of broadcasts, that can be downloaded automatically using a tool known as an aggregator, such as Apple's iTunes. The aggregator has to be capable of reading feed formats such as RSS or Atom, but don't worry about these terms at the moment.
Many people are already using podcasts for a variety of different tasks and reasons; commercial companies to home users, schools to media companies. You only have to visit the iTunes music store to see the variety already available.
The Podcast consists of two parts; the feed and the episodes. A good analogy would be to compare it with a years subscription to a magazine; the feed is the subscription, the episodes are the equivalent to the magazines that arrive automatically each month. Each episode in a Podcast is therefore the audio file the user has created.
At the moment most Podcasts are audio (mp3) files. You can however podcast PDF files, video files and a special type of file known as an 'Enhanced Podcast'.
A computer, microphone and sound capture software, and internet connection is basically all that is required, but additional software such as Podcaster from Kudlian Soft, makes the publication and management even easier. Once published, the podcasts can be freely listened to by anyone, anywhere in the world.
Podcasting is still an emerging technology in many schools, but will very quickly become part of the curriculum as it is mentioned in the new Primary Literacy and Numeracy Framework. There is also a considerable amount of interest from a variety of other sectors within education.
One immediate perceived use is as a way of making available lessons and course materials to students on a regular basis. The students can then download the podcast episodes for revision and listen to them either on their computers or transfer them to a suitable portable device, an iPod or other MP3 player. There are however many other interesting ideas for this fledgling technology and we'll consider these a little later.
Podcaster is suitable for educating pupils in the classroom:
Key Stages: 1, 2 and 3 including special needs secondary and adult.
Supports the following QCA schemes of work:
3A Combining text and graphics
Program of study reference KS1 1a, 2a, 3a
4D Collecting and presenting information
6A Multimedia presentation
4A Writing for different audiences
Creating a podcast is actually quite easy and can be undertaken on both Windows and Macintosh computers, all be it a little easier on the latter.
When everything is ready, record the broadcast and save the file.
In order to publish your podcast, you will require an FTP connection to a web server.
You might need to contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to ensure you have this service enabled and to get a user name and password, and the FTP server address.
You will also need a piece of software that will transfer the file you wish to use, to your podcast site (FTP server). Podcaster is ideal for this and will also allow you to easily manage the site.
A demonstration version of Podcaster, for both Windows and Mac users, is available and will allow you to publish Podcasts for a limited period before you need to purchase a licence.
Click here to go to the Primary Literacy Frameworks - Literacy Framework (305 KB)