Podcasts Part 1

Explore Podcasting
NOTE: For the sake of simplicity, this "Thing," will focus on audio podcasts, but the concepts apply to video podcasts as well.


A podcast is sort of like an online radio show, except the listeners get to decide when and where they want to listen.

The term "podcast" stands for Portable On-Demand Broadcast. And you DON"T NEED an iPod to listen to or create a podcast! Having an iPod (or similar portable device) simply makes listening to podcasts (and other media, such as music, audiobooks and videos) really convenient. (Of course, there are tons of ways to use iPods in education).

An audio file published to the web does not qualify as a podcast. A podcast consists of an audio file (typically MP3 format) published to the web PLUS an RSS feed (XML file). The RSS feed allows listeners to subscribe to the podcast and to automatically receive new episodes in a special type of RSS reader called a podcatcher. In addition to managing your podcast subscriptions and playing the media files, podcatchers can also help you transfer your podcasts to your media player. The most popular podcatcher is iTunes, a free program designed to work with iPods, but which also serves as a general media player and organizer, and a huge, searchable podcast directory.

Good to know: You can subscribe to and play podcasts in your Google Reader, but it can't help you transfer your media files onto your portable player. If you just want to listen to podcasts on your computer, Google Reader is actually a great option, because it just "points to" the podcast files so that you can play them in the reader, whereas a "true podcatcher" such as iTunes actually DOWNLOADS the media files to your hard drive.

Lucky for us, our friends at CommonCraft have created a "Podcasting in Plain English" video

Here is another excellent introduction to Podcasting video, from PodGrunt.

Discovery Exercise

The best way to learn about podcasts is to listen to a few of them.

PART 1: Use the Grazr widget below to sample a few (by no means representative of all that's out there!) educational podcasts.

As you explore these podcasts and search for a few of your own, begin thinking about ways you could use existing podcasts to supplement your classroom or professional teaching/learning.

In Thing 18 (coming soon), you will be asked to create a podcast (I promise, it's EASY) and share some potential ideas you have for producing podcasts to support classroom learning (and/or your professional role).

How to use the Grazr:

  • Click a category folder (e.g. "Early Childhood") in the left pane to view its contents.
  • Click a podcast title (e.g. "Super Why") under the category to view all episodes in the upper right pane.
  • Select a podcast episode from the upper right pane, and access the podcast in the lower right pane. You may need to scroll down past the episode description to see the embedded player or "play now" link. (NOTE: Video podcasts showing a "Play now" link will open in a new window).


PART 2: Find and subscribe to a podcast. (Pick either Light or Stretch, or both if you feel ambitious)


Find a podcast (or two) that interests you (see "Where do I find podcasts?" below) -- ideally, related to your teaching/professional role -- and subscribe to it using your Google Reader. (Locate the RSS or Subscribe icon and click it, then select Google > Google Reader, or copy and paste the feed URL into the Subscribe field in your Google Reader). Listen to a bit of your subscription(s).


Download and install iTunes. Find and subscribe to one or more podcasts of professional interest using iTunes. You can add any podcast feed to iTunes (even if it's not listed in the iTunes Store -- see "Where do I find podcasts?" below) by copying the podcast feed URL, then opening iTunes and selecting Advanced > Subscribe to Podcast and pasting the URL). Listen to a bit of your subscription(s).

Help Resources for iTunes:

Where do I find podcasts?

Additional Resources


Write a brief blog post sharing your initial thoughts about podcasting in education. Points to consider: Which podcasts did you preview? What did you think? Which directories did you search and were you able to find podcasts of value? Do you have any ideas about incorporating existing podcasts into your classroom or professional learning? (If you already use iTunes (or other podcatcher) and/or have an iPod or other MP3 player that you use for podcast listening, please share a bit about your experiences. If you are a podcaster, or have used podcasting with students, please share a bit about that as well). Please include "Exploring Podcasting" in your post title.

Course used with permission from K – 12 Learning 2.0