When I first looked at Valenza’s Manifesto for a 21st Century Librarian, podcast was a term I had heard but only vaguely understood. I have since learned that podcasts are audio or video media files that are made available on the Internet, like a radio show or a video (sometimes called a vodcast) that you can listen to or watch on demand, either on your computer or on a portable media player. A podcast is distinguished from other digital media formats by the fact that it can be subscribed to, and downloaded automatically when new content is added, using a podcast aggregator.
According to Will Richardson, anyone equipped with a microphone, a digital audio recorder that can create an MP3 file, space on a server to host the file, a blog and something to say can make a podcast. I have to admit, it doesn’t sound that easy to me.
Podcasts are often regular people talking about things that interest them however, major broadcasting organizations like the CBC are making many of their programs available in podcast format. I was surprised at how many professional and amateur podcasts are available, absolutely free. In the iTunes podcast directory there are podcasts on everything from learning to speak French to doing Yoga. In Culture.ca’s podcast listings, I found podcasts about radio shows, newspaper and magazine-produced audio, museums, writers, art galleries and more. I am interested in subscribing to a couple of podcasts from the CBC Podcasts, like Between the Covers and The Current, as I am often busy when the live broadcasts are happening. Podcastalley has links to several education-related shows (of varying quality) and Education Podcast Network has numerous ideas for classroom use of podcasting. I could easily get carried away, browsing through podcasts, but must return to learning how to subscribe to them!