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The Sound of the Future: Podcasting and Education

by Cheyenne Hohman

Publishing audio and video to support and feature academic content is fairly commonplace in universities and colleges these days, but higher learning institutions haven’t always shared so freely. Many have eased their attitudes on intellectual property in recent years, recognizing that sharing information may be more important than hoarding it. Some have gone so far as to add Creative Commons licenses to their work, so that they can be used for educational, collaborative or derivative purposes.

A decade ago, web technologies didn’t support fast, high-quality audio or video, and the term “podcast” wasn’t in the vernacular just yet.  As technology has developed and technological infrastructure has continued to grow, the potential for posting and sharing media files has grown along with it. In the mid-2000s, the podcast was born, and an audiophile subculture has grown around the medium; an audience of participants.

Universities and colleges the world over have adopted the practice of in-house media production and started producing their own audiovisual materials – not just written articles and photographs traditionally released in printed materials, but also a diverse offering of new and interactive media that demonstrate the ways that the institution serves its constituents and community.

As institutions of higher education go increasingly digital, their content will be shared across a wider variety of platforms (not to mention the signal boosts made possible by social media networks like Facebook and Twitter). Most notably in the podcast world, Apple’s iTunes platform launched iTunes U, a place where users can search for content by institution, including a host of universities, colleges, museums, libraries and other organizations. Many of these institutions also host podcast series on their own websites or other social sound-sharing platforms like SoundCloud, which embeds easily across the web.

Content that was once confined to a lectern can now be recorded and accessed wherever someone has a desire to hear it and a somewhat reliable Internet connection. Some departments and programs use podcasting technology to record and distribute class material such as lectures, presentations and Q&A sessions to enhance or “flip” the classroom experience. Others have chosen to create their own podcast series that have explored research, study abroad experiences, or social issues in a conversational, engaging way.

The College of Arts and Sciences podcast production team seeks to tell the best stories we can about the University from individuals’ perspectives: to highlight the most compelling research, to follow stories of students who stand out from their peers, or to have a collegial chat with a faculty or staff member to find out more about a course they’re offering or where they want to take their research in the years to come.

Our podcasts approach complex topics from the ground level and blend a conversational tone with academic findings – or to take the listener on-site and catch the highlights of an event sponsored by the college. Though podcasts aren’t the most flashy format, they are lighter, easier to stream than video, and can be taken anywhere – at least, anywhere that headphones can go.

A&S podcasts can be found:

On the A&S site:
On SoundCloud:

Time to get meta with a podcast about podcasting:

Happy listening!