What is it?
Podcasts are audio or video files that anybody can listen to online or download onto their portable media player. They are mostly associated with episodic content of a regularly programmed series, such as a radio show. With the decreasing cost of recording devices and release of easy to use media editing tools, producing podcasts is easier than ever!
A podcast can cover a variety of topics, from the archives of a weekly radio program to foreign language guides. Many universities create podcasts of prominent guest speakers, while a class here at UBC uses them as assignments to hone students' storytelling skills. UBC students also create podcasts and audio files to share student opinion and experience via interview.
Podcasts can be an effective storytelling tool. The four tools of a podcast are voice, sounds, music and silence, and it’s astonishing how far these can go to captivate listeners. Without visual distractions, podcasts are able to hone in on specific content and intimately engage the listener.
Uses and Benefits
- Archive Class Lectures
You can create archives of class lectures for students who missed a class, want to review what you discussed with them, or study during their commute
- Digital Storytelling
Students can be given assignments that help them explore and share stories about local issues.
- Literary Readings
Many plays and poems are better understood when read out loud. Dramatic readings help convey expressions and meaning.
- Language Learning
Help students learn a new language by letting them hear and practice proper pronunciations.
- Audio Instructions
Easily explain assignments and solutions by creating short "microlectures"
- Guest Speakers
Share lectures from guest speakers who can give personal and in-depth insight into the latest research and issues.
Students can hone their interview skills while talking with other students or professors about a wide range of topics.
Podcasts can be produced and used in a variety of ways. Take time to look through the examples below and look into the possibilites on how they can be applied in academic settings.
Podcasts at UBC
- Down the Hall - Radio EPLT: a podcast produced by the External Programs and Learning Technologies (EPLT) office at the Faculty of Education. Listen to interviews of EPLT instructors, discussions of current trends in learning technologies, and what's happening in EPLT.
- LFS 400 - Digital Communication and Topics in Agriculture: a course that supports students in their development as communicators of topics on agriculture and sustainability. Learn more about the project and listen to some student podcasts.
- Arts One Open: Podcast lectures offering perspectives on course readings.
- Continuing Studies Public Lectures: UBC Continuing Studies shares recordings of their public lectures on topics such as human rights, journalism, and sustainability.
- Therapeutics Initiative Podcasts: the Therapeutics Initiative (TI) podcast is a biweekly presentation where practitioners can get a healthy dose of evidence based drug therapy information. TI is an independent organization established by the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics
We will be focusing on audio podcasts because they are easier to make than video podcasts. You only need two things to start recording: a microphone and audio recording software. Once you have both, you can start recording!
If you'd like to include visuals with your presentation, you can go to Screen Capture Basics
There are a number of free applications you can use to record audio. The following software either comes pre-installed on your operating system, while others are free downloads:
Most computers have built-in microphones that you can use to record audio. In order to check, please do the following:
- Go to Control Panel and click Sound
- Once a new window opens, go to the Recording Tab.
- By default, you will see the name of the device and sound level meter. If you make any sound near the computer and the bars go up, it means that it is working.
- If it says No audio devices are installed then you will have to get an external microphone.
- In some cases, the device might be disabled. Right-click within the window and choose Show Disabled Devices.
- A list of devices will appear and enable the one you want to use.
- Open System Preferences and click Sound
- Click on the Input tab.
- You will see a list of devices that you can use and choose the one you want.
- If it is empty then you will need to get an external microphone.
When you're done recording, you can publish your podcasts on:
- Up and Running with Audacity
- Audacity of a free, open-source audio recording and editing program available on Macs, Windows, and Linux. In this course, you learn how to start recording, mixing, and editing your own podcasts using Audacity.
- Garageband Essential Training
- Garageband is audio recording and editing software available on Macs and iOS devices. In this course, you will focus on the basic functions and features of Garageband to create your own podcasts.
- Duncan Mchugh's slides on Audio and Podcasting
- Podcasting Basics
- Student Podcasting Toolkit
- 7 Things You Should Know About Podcasts (EDUcause Learning Initiative)
- Podcasts in Education, wiki developed for the course ETEC 510: Design of Technology-Supported Learning Environments
- Podcasts in Plain English
Student Copyright Resources
- Why should I care about copyright?: this student-centered guide, put together by the UBC Learning Commons team, answers questions on the subject of copyright and addresses a number of myths and misconceptions surrounding copyright. Are you new to copyright?
- Use Creative Commons Media : this guide provides overview on creative commons media and how can it be used.
Faculty Copyright Resources
- Open licensing for instructors: this guide provides information on open licensing, how open licensing can be used, and how to open license your own work.
- Public domain resources: this page provides an overview of what public domain is, how material in the public domain can be used, and much more, including quick tips to check if something is or is not considered public domain in Canada, as well as links to public domain sources.
- A Model for Developing Multimedia Learning Projects Frey,B; Sutton, J. (2010)
- UBC Studios: Production Basics for UBC Media Makers.
Design for learning
- UBC's Design Principles for Multimedia: an overview of research and practice based principles for effective multimedia design, within a practical framework.
- What Makes an Instructional Video Compelling?: an interesting piece looking at factors like relationship to course content and conversational language, as contributors to compelling viewing of instructional media among students.
- Carnegie-Mellon's principles for learning
- Merrill's first principles of instruction
- Gagne's nine events of instruction
Incorporating media in the classroom
- Penn State's guide to media activities
- The Media Scholarship Project: Strategic Thinking about Media and Multimodal Assignments in the Liberal Arts: an excellent overview of the process of designing multimodal projects, from a faculty perspective. Features a strong emphasis on practical information.
- Find a quiet room with minimal ambient noise for recording sessions.
- Audio quality is much better when recording with external microphones.
- Plan your podcasts into segments to minimize errors and easier editing.
- Although a script is not required it is hugely beneficial. Alternatively, you can have a general outline of your podcast to keep yourself on track.
- Many people find 3 - 5 minute podcasts are the most effective.
Five questions to ask yourself before getting started
- What is my purpose, why am I making this podcast?
- Who is it for?
- Is the recording quality important or is the purpose to share an idea or concept?
- Do I have necessary permissions and copyright in place?
- Do I have all of the resources I need, or know where to find them?