Uses of podcasting
Podcasting refers to the creation and regular distribution of podcasts through the Internet. Podcasts, which can include audio, video, PDF, and ePub files, are subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. Subscribers are then able to view, listen to, and transfer the episodes to a variety of media players, or podcatchers. Though similar to radio, there is no larger regulatory group or oversight with podcasts. Instead, podcasts simply consist of the creators and their listeners.
As the technology gained popularity in the early 2000s, the uses of podcasting grew from simply the delivery of content to also creative and responsive purposes. The uses of podcasts varies depending on the speaker, the source through which the podcast is shared, and the intended audience. Podcasts have been utilized across academia, the news cycle, entertainment, and more.
- Advocacy. The 5,500 locked out staff (editors, journalists, technicians, hosts, etc.) of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation were podcasting news and other programming during August and September 2005.
- Law enforcement. In 2020, both the Chambersburg Police department in Pennsylvania and the Mount Pleasant Police Department of South Carolina released a podcast in 2020 to provide a way for the community to get to know the department's officers.
- News outlets distribute supplemental audio or video via podcasts. For example, Wikinews began to podcast its News Briefs in 2005. Companies also use podcasts to distribute their multimedia news to journalists and consumers through companies like MultiVu. In 2006, the online magazine Slate began textcasting articles to their readers, by attaching a written article to a blank audio file and delivering the content to readers through their regular podcasting mechanism.
- Public libraries can podcast local publications free of Copyright, offering spoken word alternatives to the visually impaired. Non-profit organizations podcast readings of short-format magazine articles for visually impaired readers.
- Tours – cultural or historic audio tours of cities. For example, there are audio tours of NYC, Norwich Vermont, and Mission Hills in San Diego.
- Tours – unofficial audio tours of museums
- Youth media. Podcasting has become a way for youth media organizations, such as Youth Radio, to bring youth perspectives to a wider audience.
- Local community news and issues. Podcasting has emerged as an effective independent outlet to share community stories of interest and engage on-demand with citizens on local issues. Podcasting continues to be a growth medium, as 40% of Americans 12+ say they have ever listened to a podcast, while 24% say they have listened to one in the past month, up from 21% one year ago. In addition, six in ten Americans are now familiar with the term "podcasting," a number that has risen 22% in two years. With the longer format and on-demand nature, local community podcasting allows for independent reporting accessible to a wider audience and broader demographic than traditional media channels.
Education and academia
Podcasting in K-12 Education
K-12 schools have also begun adopting podcasting as an instructional tool. Podcasts are used for many educational purposes and there are several advocates of podcasting who believe that it can offer unique educational benefits to learners. The main advantage of podcasting is the simplicity that it offers to learners. Listeners are no longer constrained by time and space with regard to their learning. Podcasts give superior support to auditory learners who comprise 30% of all learners. Expensive equipment or sophisticated know-how is not needed to create a podcast. There are free programs that are easily accessible to all people to create podcasts. Podcasting affords iPods and other mobile audio players a double life: a usefulness for both entertainment and education. Podcasts are created by students for projects or by instructors for instructional purposes.
Podcasts for Students
There are many uses for podcasting for the classroom. They can be used to convey instructional information from the teacher or trainer, motivational stories, and auditory case studies. Podcasts can also be used by the learners as artifacts and evidence of learning; for example, a student might prepare a brief podcast as a summary of a concept in lieu of writing an essay. Podcasts can also be used as a means of self-reflection on the learning processes or products. Podcasts can help keep students on the same page, including those that are absent. Absent students can use podcasts to see class lectures, daily activities, homework assignments, handouts, and more. A review of literature that reports the use of audio podcasts in K-12 and higher education found that individuals (1) use existing podcasts or (2) create their own podcasts. Students can create their own podcast to share their learning experiences with each other and also with other students from other schools.
According to Jonathan Copley, many students choose to use podcasts as a supplement to lecture materials. Before classes, students use podcasts to gain an overall understanding of the upcoming lecture, which makes them feel more confident and much more prepared for the class. The use of podcasts better prepares students for classes and promotes discussions. The download of podcasts peaks both immediately after a podcast has been uploaded and right before examinations or deadlines. Students use podcasts as part of their review for exams because it provides different methods of reinforcement of course material. This includes (1) visual reinforcement of material, (2) testing of their knowledge base, and (3) adding variety to the review experience. In addition, students who missed the lecture because of sickness or other reasons can use podcasts to catch up on their notes. Students learn better when they have a teacher present the materials, rather than going over other people's notes. Finally, students with disabilities and students who do not speak English as their first language use podcasts because they can listen to the material repeatedly. These students all find podcasts more useful than the traditional handouts because in a conventional classroom setting, it is impossible for students to pause and resume the class.
According to Robin H. Kay, there are five key benefits regarding the use of video podcasts for students.
- Students can control the pace of their own studies
- Increase in motivation
- Improvement in study habits
- Positive impact on testing skills
- Does not reduce class attendance
Podcasts for Teachers
Podcasting can be a tool for teachers or administrators to communicate with parents and the wider community about curriculum plans and content, student assignments and other information.
Apple Incorporated introduced iTunes U, a nationwide expansion of a service that puts course lectures and other educational materials online and on-the-go via Apple's iTunes software. In 2006 there were over 400 podcasts from K-12 classes listed on iTunes and over 900 education-related podcasts listed on Yahoo. Students reported that replaying podcasts facilitated the comprehension of complex concepts and increased understanding for non-native language learners.
The use of social technologies (blogs, wikis, RSS) allow students to shift from simply consuming media to creating it on their own. Pundits argue that student-produced podcasting can promote several powerful ideas that students can use over a lifetime. These include a hands-on and reflective approach to copyright and fair use in creating digital media. That is, they can create original content as they ethically and effectively collect and remix the work of others. Thus, it is argued, podcasting becomes a tool for students to think about the balance between individual rights and community benefits. In addition, some argue that podcasts help students learn 21st century literacy skills. Students, for example, can use digital audio recording and editing software to create audio dramas, news shows or audio tours. Within Social Studies contexts, for example, podcasting offers a means for encouraging students to question their world, to explore their intuitions about relationships between history, people and to think about things in relation to larger contexts, rather than simply focus on dates and facts. Educators who use podcasting with students argue that it offers learners and teachers flexibility and learner control, opportunities for learner motivation, clarity of instruction, novelty of engagement, widening of 'locations' in which learning is situated – an expansion of the temporal and spatial, engagement with and collaboration around dialogue, and opportunities for learners to get involved in construction of learning for others.
A variety of professional resources are available for teachers:
- Techpod: Podcast for Teachers – offers interviews with educators, authors, and ed techies; curriculum ideas; news resources; technology tips; and research that educators can use in the classroom.
- Wikispaces: Podcasting in Education
- Teaching with Podcasts - Read Write Think
- K-12- Podcasts Downloads on iTunes
- Web Tools 4u2use
- Podstock: The Education Podcast Network
Podcasts in higher education
- Mobile Learning: Podcasting can be categorized as an m-learning strategy for teaching and learning. In 2004, Musselburgh Grammar School pioneered podcast lessons with foreign language audio revision and homework. In the second half of 2005, a Communication Studies course at the University of Western Australia used student-created podcasts as the main assessment item. In 2005, "Students in the Write" was created for second-grade students at Morse Elementary School in Tarrytown, NY. On 21 February 2006, Lance Anderson (the Verge of the Fringe podcast), Dr. Chris Smith (The Naked Scientist), Nigel Paice, and Debbie McGowan took part in the first podcast forum at Cambridge University. The event was hosted by the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies.
- Mobile Knowledge Transfer: Podcasting is also used by corporations to disseminate information faster and more easily. It can be seen as a further development of Rapid E-Learning as the content can be created fast and without much effort. Learners can learn in idle times which saves time and money for them and the organizations. Audio podcasts can be used during other activities like driving a car, travelling by train, or riding a bus. A group often targeted is the sales-force, as they are highly mobile. There podcasting can be used for sales enablement with the goal of having the sales employee aware and knowledgeable on the companies products, processes, initiatives etc. An often-used format is expert interviews with statements of experienced role models to bring across also informal or tacit knowledge.
- Language Learning: Podcasts can be used to both inside and outside the language learning classroom. Teachers can record and publish their daily lessons for students to download to their MP3 players for endless practice. There are also pre-designed websites where native speakers publish stories and language learners can respond via a comment function. This combines the use of podcast with blogs.
- Mathematical Learning: Audio-podcasts can also be used in mathematics education. With the recording of mathematical audio-podcasts, oral communication and representation are focussed on. Audio-podcasts have been used in primary school as well as in teacher education. The process of producing the mentioned audio-podcasts in mathematics education facilitates reflection processes.
- Journalism Education: School podcasts can be created to expose students to journalism and new-media concepts. Regularly released "news" podcasts can be released by a school group.
- Academic Journal Digests: The Society of Critical Care Medicine has a podcast used to update clinicians with summaries of important articles, as well as interviews.
- Supply Chain Management Education: In October 2007, Stephan Brady presented his paper on "Podcasting in Supply Chain Education" at the CSCMP Educators Conference, which outlined how podcasting could be used in and outside of the classroom for enhancing supply chain courses through blended, or hybrid learning.
- Professional Development: Professional development podcasts exist for educators. Some podcasts may be general in nature or may be slightly more specific and focus on the use of interactive white boards in the classroom.
- Tutorials: A tutorial on almost any subject can be created as either an audio podcast or video vodcast. Through screencasting, many video podcasts demonstrate how to use software and operating systems.
- Anxiety: Podcasts have been used to solve problems with college students’ anxiety by allowing professors’ lectures to be accessed after class so the students would not have to worry about missing any of the material if absent or tardy. According to Anthony Chan & Mark J.W. Lee, "The advent of consumer-level digital multimedia hardware and software have prompted the more techno-logically inclined instructors and educational designers to construct CD-ROM based re-sources to engage and excite students using the richness and flexibility of text, graphics, sound, video, animation and interactive content, as well as the combination of these elements".
- Comedy. Comedians such as Ricky Gervais, Stephen Fry, Adam Carolla, Marc Maron, and Joe Rogan have all created very popular podcasts.
- True Crime. The popularity of Serial in 2014 led to an increase in true crime podcasts, ranging from deep dives into cold cases by traditional news sources to comedic looks at famous true crime stories.
- Television commentary. Battlestar Galactica writer and executive producer Ronald D. Moore creates commentary podcasts for each new episode of Battlestar Galactica. Other television shows such as Doctor Who, The Good Place, and The Daily Show have since followed suit. Netflix launched a podcast in 2018 dedicated to the discussion of its own programming.
- Radio series. Some radio programmes such as The Now Show and The News Quiz allow entire episodes to be downloaded as podcasts.
- Film commentary (Audio commentary). Enables fans to add their own comments and thoughts to any of their favourite films.
- Sports. In 2005, unofficial podcasts for major sports teams launched, providing fans both in and outside of the teams' direct broadcast areas with on-demand commentary. Some sports podcasts focus on history, crime, and controversies in the sports world. Networks such as ESPN and The Ringer (website) consist of podcasts dedicated to a specific sport or general commentary.
- Reintroducing Classical Children's Literature. Podcasts such as Albert Lea Public Library's Classics On-the-Go program bring classical (non-copyrighted) children's literature back to life for everyone to share.
- Fiction. Narrative podcasting has also gained in popularity with programs such as Welcome to Night Vale and Limetown. Fiction podcasts can feature a single narrator, similar to an audiobook, or a full cast of characters with environmental sounds and music. Podcasts like Escape Pod are used to distribute short stories in audiobook format. Other podcasts distribute stories in the format of radio drama.
- Replacement for live music audio streams. Whereas streaming a performance live over the Internet requires careful coordination of person and machine, podcasting offers the ability to do slight time-shifting of performances and greatly reduces the complexity of the effort. The quality of the program is often higher as post-production adjustments can be made prior to release. For example, programs can provide a live stream of their program, but most listeners don't hear it until weeks later on NPR. Podcasted versions of the programs split the difference, usually coming out a few days after the live program, but well before the traditional broadcast.
- TV. Sometimes, TV shows are archived in podcast format for free download as a video podcast; this differs from the traditional method of charging per episode on platforms such as iTunes. For example, episodes of the second series of Australian satirical comedy series The Chaser's War on Everything were the most popular downloaded vodcasts for the Australian iTunes Store in 2007 after being trialled to great success in 2006. Almost nine million vodcasts of the show were downloaded, more than half of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's online vodcasts served in the year.
Politics and news
- Newspapers. Newspapers use podcasts to broadcast audio content from print interviews and drive traffic to their websites. The San Francisco Chronicle is believed to be the first major daily newspaper to start podcasting using an external website, in Feb 2005. Hong Kong's South China Morning Post was the first to use its own website and the first in Asia, having launched on April 19, 2005 The adoption of the podcast medium for news distribution has been more widely used these days, given that major news outlets such as The New York Times and CNN have adopted them as part of their services.
- Communication from space.
- Conference and meeting alerts. Podcasts can be packaged to alert attendees to agendas, hosted round-tables and daily feedback.
- In the U.S., both major political parties have various podcasts, as do numerous politicians. One popular podcast is the White House RSS feed that provides the public with President Weekly Addresses, White House Speeches, White House Press Briefings and White House features. Several other political personalities have also had podcasts that explore political themes, such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and famous actor, comedian and activist Russell Brand.
- Many have found podcasts to be a great forum for social and political commentary. Many large news outlets have started podcasts in recent years, including the Spectator, the Atlantic and BBC.
- Crooked Media is a podcast network completely devoted to political commentary, while other networks, such as NPR and Slate (magazine), feature individual political programs in their line-up.
- Podcasting can be used as a part of a content marketing strategy. Podcasts create brand fanatics, people who are deeply invested in who podcasters are as people and as business professionals. This is the essence of long-form content marketing. Every minute that a customer or prospect listens to a podcaster speak with authority the podcaster is establishing themselves as a thought-leader. Conceptually the more time an audience spends with the podcasters content the more authority the podcaster will acquire.
- As a promotional vehicle for an upcoming event, such as Pixar's Cars Video Podcast, which advertised the release of Disney Pixar's Cars animated feature film with a series of behind-the-scenes clips. Podcasting has been successful at reaching out to people who are out on the road through podcasts and that this more than an either-or kind of idea or decision, yet a coexisting strategy combining many different online marketing strategies like blogs e-books, and good websites". This shows that even podcasts do get hit with legal constraints, but can find ways around it due their lack of affiliation with the FCC. They essentially bypass the entire industry.
- Health and wellness education are widely accessible to the public through podcasts. Many developed countries such as Australia have utilised podcasts to publish new findings in the medical field. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has been one of the active participants in informing the public of new drugs and processes to improve medical awareness.
Religion and spirituality
- Religion and spirituality podcasts have been used by many religious groups. churches produce podcasts of talks and sermons.
- Farm Podcasting makes information available about farming. The term was coined to identify a program that is produced exclusively as a podcast on the subject of agriculture. There are now multiple companies who specialize in farm podcasting, producing regular programming on agriculture targeted to farmers and the general public.
Non-traditional and alternative content
- A way for people and organizations to avoid regulatory bodies, such as the British Ofcom or American Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that would not allow a program to be broadcast in traditional media.
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