Week 7: podcasts and multimedia

This week we’ll be looking at podcasts and online video.

What is a podcast?

The exact origins of the term podcast are shrouded in mystery, although podcasting started to catch on around the same time as the iPod so there may be a connection!

A podcast is an audio file (usually MP3) which is distributed over the web. A podcast may contain music, or not. It may be just a few minutes long, or last hours. It may feature one person, a conversation or a panel discussion. It may be recorded ‘live’ or carefully scripted and edited. It may be professionally produced or made by you and me on our PC (or Mac).

The term podcast is now often also used to describe an online video or ‘vodcast’. So you may find yourself watching a podcast, as well as listening to it. In this post we’ll stick to a podcast being audio only to avoid confusion.

How do I listen to podcasts?

The variety of ways you can listen to podcasts is one of the reasons why this technology has become so popular. You can listen to a podcast on your PC, or download it to an MP3 player/iPod and listen on the move.

How do I find podcasts?

Like blogs and RSS feeds, podcasts have their own search engines so you can easily find the podcasts you want. iTunes, Podcastalley, Podcastdirectory, Everyzing and Podomatic among others all offer the facility to search for podcasts, and may also host them as well. But you can just as easily use Google or Yahoo; just add ‘podcast’ as a keyword in your search.

One key feature of podcasts is the ability to subscribe to a series. You can download an aggregator, or podcatcher like iTunes or Juice. Alternatively, because serial podcasts have RSS feeds, you can utilise an RSS reader like Bloglines or Google Reader to subscribe to podcasts.

Can I podcast?

Yes you can! Podcasting, like blogging, is open to everyone as the equipment required is minimal. Got a PC? Got a microphone? Got something to say? Then you can be a podcaster. If you want to know more, check out the activities for this week.

Enough with the audio – what about online video?

The availability of faster and better internet connections, low cost online storage, cheap digital camcorders and home editing software has resulted in an explosion of video online. Content may be professionally produced, like the programmes you can watch or download from BBC iPlayer. But all it takes is a quick glance at video hosting sites like YouTube and Google Video to see that we’re all getting in the act. In fact YouTube’s slogan is ‘Broadcast yourself’ and we do, in our millions.

How do I find online video?

We’ve already mentioned YouTube and Google Video, but other search engines like Blinkx, Exalead and Yahoo offer video searching options. Or you can just add ‘video’ as a keyword in your search on most engines to get results.

Can I YouTube?

You can create accounts with YouTube and Google Video (in fact, if you set up an account with Google Reader in Week 3: RSS, you can use the same username and password to access Google Video.)

An account allows you to upload your own videos to these services, as well as create favourite lists, set up RSS feeds etc.

If you’ve bought a PC or a Mac recently you’ll probably find digital video editing software like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker pre-loaded; ready and waiting for you to create your masterpiece.

The L20 team has a YouTube account and we’ve loaded the short video tutorial we made on setting up your blog.

As you can see the quality isn’t great as the tutorial wasn’t created for YouTube – but it demonstrates how easy it is to join the online video club.

What’s in it for libraries?

Podcasts and online video provide a new medium for libraries in teaching, learning and marketing services to students and staff. Libraries are increasingly using these technologies to complement and supplement printed guides or face to face contact.

Take a look at the Imperial College online lecture page. By using podcasts and video the College is opening up these lectures to everyone – not just the people sitting in the lecture theatre. Many departments are now recording lectures and making them available as podcasts.

The library dipped its toe into the podcast waters last summer and created an audio library induction.

Click play to listen.

More podcasts are planned for the new academic year; there are more details about this on the intranet.

To see how other libraries are using podcasting visit the Library Success Wiki which has a long (mostly US based) list of library podcasts.

Over this side of the pond Cardiff University Information Services worked with the student radio station to produce a six part series on essay writing.

Librarians are also using online video, mainly in the form of screencasts which capture the activity on your PC monitor. Screencasts are particularly useful for demonstrating online resources such as databases. The L20 video mentioned above is an example of screencasting.

Get your ears ready – time to start the activities for this week.

Remember to add a post to your blog about this week’s activity!

Further reading (and watching and listening)

Podcasting in Plain English from the Common Craft show – all you need to know about podcasting in three minutes.

Podcasting: if Terry Wogan can do it, so can we … by Claire Molloy and Elaine Shallcross – the library ‘podsquad’ from the University of Aberdeen discuss their experiences of producing podcasts and vodcasts

Listen to University of Aberdeen podcasts

Watch University of Aberdeen vodcasts

Beginner’s guide to podcasts and podcasting (plus: how to create a basic podcast of your own) – discusses what makes a good podcast and what you need to become a podcaster yourself


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s