Open source learning: podcasting

28 Feb

Podcasting ‘My name is Richard and I’m a podcast refusenik.’ There, I feel better already for this confession. This is a discussion I’ve had with various people over the past week, so this post pulls together some of these thoughts.

Who are podcasts aimed at?

Presumably, those ‘digital natives’ with computer connections and MP3 players. (I now have an iPod, but previously found listening to podcasts on the office PC a chore.) I also assume that podcasts are prefereable to those who prefer to learn through the spoken rather than the written word (I’m not one of these.) The ability to listen on the move suits some people well – and I found myself catching up on podcasts on a long train journey last week.

What is their role in education?

This is a much-discussed topic. One colleague has a site devoted to giving digital audio feedback to students and there are books on the topic. I’ve come to realise the absurdity of my own position: that one hour podcasts are too long yet I expect students to listen to my hour long lectures several times a week.

How can they be categorised as social media?

Podcasting uses a broadcasting approach (one to many) rather than a true social media approach. So why do they count as social media? The answer comes in their ability to encourage conversation and community. Shel and Neville’s book on podcasting is dedicated to ‘the worldwide listenership of For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Much more than just an audience – a vibrant community.’ Conversations are two-way, broadcasting is usually one-way (radio phone-ins being the exception).

If blogs can be seen as a form of amateur journalism, then podcasts are a form of amateur radio. Citizen journalism is another defining quality of social media. Yet podcasts require skilled amateurs, with good voices, sharp interviewing skills and good technical editing skills.

What is their role in marketing and corporate communications?

It is easy to see the value of a podcast in internal communications – or in crisis communications. But I fear that many corporate podcasts will be little more than vanity publishing, just as corporate videos were in the ‘world before the web’. I’m hoping that Anna Farmery, who is leading a session here the week after next, might have some good examples to cite.

5 Responses to “Open source learning: podcasting”

  1. Anna Farmery 28/02/2008 at 12:46 pm #

    Interesting thoughts, I can see I have a challenge on my hands 🙂 Really looking forward to maybe inspiring a few more people to understand more about the power of podcasting…you may want to check out this link which shows that podcasting is not for domain of the teens,

  2. Richard Bailey 28/02/2008 at 1:36 pm #

    Thanks, Anna. I’ll check out The Podcast Sisters.
    Incidentally, my rule of thumb of the success of any communications channel is when women become the early majority. Consider text messaging and Facebook. Though oddly not blogging…

  3. Anderson 28/02/2008 at 11:09 pm #

    hi Richard,
    I look forward to that.I’m a book maniac, and not into podcasts at all. Interesting subject though and will be looking forward to be with Anna and really opened to be challenged. Do I need a ipod too? too much for Apple isn’t it shouldn’t we be calling it something else instead? something less promotional, or ‘brandless’???

  4. Richard Bailey 29/02/2008 at 9:59 am #

    The BBC always says MP3 player. They strive not to give Apple any free advertising.

  5. Benjamin Boudreau 02/03/2008 at 1:42 pm #

    Ah podcasts…you’re absolutely right, many of them deny the large portion of the population that learns primarily by visuals. I also avoid sitting down to listen to 45 minute long sessions of bodyless voices speak. That’s the reason I don’t often seek out podcasts to add to my subscriptions (one in total…).
    That being said, I really enjoy the newer video podcasts. I think they have the potential to be awfully dynamic and present news, trends, and discussions in a more engaging way than text on a screen. Not to mention the fact that podcasts can now let you watch television newscasts hours before they air as the reporters do their dress rehearsals.
    Again, this is a visual learner typing so I’m admittedly biased.

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