Professional -- and Personal -- Podcasting
By Judith Maginnis Kuster
A podcast is a digital media file, typically audio (but possibly video), that is distributed over the Internet to be played back on a computer or on a portable media player (like an iPod). Podcasters (those who produce podcasts) often provide Web sites that offer downloads or streaming of their podcasts.
However, a podcast differs from other sites that offer audio or video clips by allowing individuals to subscribe. New episodes may be downloaded automatically to the subscriber's computer, usually through an RSS (really simple syndication) feed. The subscriber can then listen to the podcast off-line at any time through a media player such as iTunes, QuickTime, Windows Media Player, or a portable MP3 player. Most podcasts are free.
Podcasting emerged in 2001 but started to become more popular in 2003. Interest in podcasts has mushroomed -- today, a Google search of "educational podcasts" yields more than 281,000,000 "hits."
Anyone with a place to post podcasts online and the right computer software can become a podcaster. Commercial companies offer free basic podcast creation options (Podcast People http://podcastpeople.com and PodBean.com http://www.podbean.com/).
Onling Resources for Finding Podcasts
Podscope (www.podscope.com) is a search engine that searches for spoken words in podcasts
iTunes (www.iTunes.com) is a program that can be downloaded for either Macintosh or Windows. Open iTunes, click on iTunes Store and then on the Podcast tab. There are also search features that help you find Podcasts arranged by category.
Where to Begin
The following sites are good places to begin your exploration of podcasts:
ASHA Podcast: Network News (www.asha.org/podcast/) promises interviews every three or four weeks that feature an individual that is "making news in the professions of ppeech-language pathology and audiology." ASHA professional development podcasts are designed to increase member awareness in a more personal way. Check the podcast directory (www.asha.org/about/continuing-ed/ASHA-courses/Podcast/PodcastDirectory.htm)
The StutterTalk audio podcast was created by Peter Reitzes, Greg Snyder, and Eric Jackson to extend the self-help movement by providing a podcast focusing on stuttering. StutterTalk is available by direct download (www.StutterTalk.com).
Students preparing for the speech-language pathology Praxis exam will find short podcasts on almost 50 review topics (http://nespaexam.com/resource/audio/audio.html)
FAQautism.com, a resource for practical caregiving (http://faqautism.com) offers advice on a variety of autism issues in a podcast format.
STAT is the podcast of Clinical Neurology News (http://medicalnewspodcast.com/stat.html)
Some podcasts feature help with grammar and English pronunciation
Short podcasts may be helpful for persons working on improving auditory memory skills
- Breaking News English (www.breakingnewsenglish.com) has ready-to-use EFL/ESL lesson plans & podcasts that include a script.
- Just Vocabulary (www.justvocabulary.libsyn.com) provides a three- to four-minute daily podcast that introduces two English words, explaining, and using the words in example sentences.
- English as a Second Language Podcast (www.eslpod.com/website/index.php) is for those who want to improve their speaking and listening skills
- Speaking English Podcast (www.speakingenglishpodcast.com) offers tips to sound more like a native English speaker.
- Grammar Girl (http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/default.aspx) advertises "quick and dirty tips for better writing" in short (about five-minute) podcasts
- Science Update (www.scienceupdate.com) offers one-minute podcasts on a variety of interesting topics such as "Can brain damage improve art?"
- Aesop's Fables Podcast (www.learnoutloud.com/Catalog/Literature/World-Classics/Aesops-Fables-Podcast/23064)
- Uvula's Kids' Story Podcasts (www.uvulaaudio.com/kids.html) provides dramatic readings of public-domain children's literature.
- Children's Story Podcast (http://storynory.com/) has a free audio story every week
Walking tours of major convention cities and favorite tourist spots around the world are also available as podcasts. I downloaded the Boston: three-mile walk along the Freedom Trail (http://podcastmedia.nationalgeographic.com/walksofalifetime/pc10_Boston.mp3) to bring to the 2007 ASHA Convention from National Geographic's "Walks of a Lifetime," narrated by Rudy Maxa and written by editors of National Geographic Traveler. Also, check for "walking tours" and "museum tours" in iTunes.
Judith Kuster is a professor in the Department of Speech, Hearing, and Rehabilitation Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. All of Kuster's Internet columns are on ASHA's Web site in HTML format with active links (www.asha.org/about/publications/leader-online/archives/news.htm), although URLs change and there is no guarantee that links from previous articles are still functional.
Kuster, JM, Professional -- and Personal -- Podcasting, ASHA Leader, November 27, 2007, p. 24-25.