1. Introduction

Since the launch of iTunes U in October 2008, podcasting activaties have flourished across the University. Examples of podcasting include:

  • Lectures
  • Interviews
  • Overviews of key concepts
  • Commentaries
  • Outreach and marketing materials
  • Revision material

On this page, you’ll find a set of resources intended to help you plan podcasts and identify how podcasting can enhance your teaching and students' learning.

1.1. What is podcasting?

Podcasts are audio or video files made available on the Internet for download and playback using a computer or a mobile device such as an iPod or smartphone. Most podcasts use RSS (an automatic subscription based system), which simplifies the regular checking and downloading process for a user.. [Source: http://library.hsc.unt.edu/researchtools/LibraryInformationTechnologyGlossary.cfm ]

If you want an introduction to what podcasting is, please watch the Why Podcast video.

1.2. Podcasting in H.E.: a list of pedagogical uses

A range of uses for podcating in education include:

  • Recording of lectures
  • Recording of special events e.g. public speakers
  • Subject expert interviews
  • Specific “listening practice” for certain disciplines e.g. heart sounds in medicine, speech/phonetics
  • Listening to language – comprehension and pronunciation
  • Audio/video feedback to students
  • Students generated podcasts: e.g. capturing audio data as part of inquiry based learning, recording notes from fieldwork

2. Academic Podcasting Examples from Oxford

2.1. Dr Stuart Lee - Podcasting English Lectures for revision and active engagment in a lecture

Dr Stuart Lee

Stuart talks about his experiences as an academic producing podcasts for his English lectures  

2.2. Dr Andreas Busch - Introduction to the Government and Politics of Germany

Dr Andreas Busch

Andreas is a former lecturer at Politics Department. He reported that enhanced podcasts helped his students to revise his lectures while maintaining a similar level of attendance.
More details of the case study …

2.3. Dr Marianne Talbot - Philosophy for Beginners

Dr Marianne Talbot

Marianne Talbot is a lecturer in philosophy in the University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education. She has become an iTunes U sensation with her lecture podcasts. Her podcasts reached the global number one position in October 2009 with over 250,000 downloads across the world.
“It’s extraordinary. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that throughout the world 18,000 people are downloading my lecture every week.”
More details of the case study ...

2.4. Dr Simon Benjamin - Caging Schrödinger’s Cat

Dr Simon Benjamin

Simon's podcasts have been hugely popular. The podcasts have enhanced the learning experience of his students as well as sparking an interest in the field of Quantum Nanotechnology within the general public.
More details about the case study …  

2.5. Dr Emma Smith - Educational Podcasts: Enabling “anytime, anywhere” learning

Dr Emma Smith

Dr. Emma Smith began podcasting her lectures on Early English Literature in Michaelmas 2009 for two reasons: to enable her students’ flexible “anytime, anywhere” learning, and to maximise the outcome of the effort that went into designing and preparing her lecture series. Through this educational technology, Dr. Emma Smith has reached a diverse global audience on iTunes U, and developed new digital skills.
More details about the case study …  

2.6. Access the Oxford podcasts

You can access all Oxford podcasts at http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/

3. Applications of podcasting at other H.E. institutions

Assessing the use of Video and Audio Podcasts in the Teaching and Learning of Computing: A Pilot Study
This study concluded that students value podcasts as a useful supplement to lectures.  It also reported that provision of podcasts had little impact on student attendance as the majority of students did not believe that podcasting could replace face-to-face lectures.

More information: http://www.celt.mmu.ac.uk/ltia/issue15/waraich.php

Recording feedback as a podcast and uploading it to a VLE
Sarah Westwater-Wood, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Physiotherapy, the University of Nottingham. More info: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/pesl/resources/elearning/recordin212/
Video feedback: a JISC funded project called ASSET
This project has developed an innovative, interactive Web 2.0 resource, 'ASSET', to encourage staff to experiment with the use of video media to provide feed-forward and feedback to students on their assignments.

More information: www.reading.ac.uk/videofeedback/Whatisasset/asset-WhatistheASSETProject.aspx

4. Podcast Production: How to plan and create educational podcasts

4.1. Pre-production planning

Define the purpose of the podcast you wish to create:

  • General skills: improve communication skills, research methods, etc.
  • Course materials: e.g. learning activities
  • Conferences and public talks

Who is it for? Define your intended audience. Be aware that material released publicly may draw a wider or more specific audience than you intended

  • Students on a module/course, or all research students
  • Students and general public

Type of recording:

  • Filmed video (i.e. featuring live action such as recording a lecture with a camera in a room)
  • Screencapture video (i.e. recording presentations as seen on a display and typically not requiring a camera directed at a presenter)
  • Audio only (e.g. radio style broadcasts, where listeners are expected to be able to understand the content without being able to see the presenter or any additional displays). Note: Audio is typically much easier to produce, and often adequate.

Pre-production checking

  • Are you making ad-hoc, unrelated, one-off recordings, or can your material be assembled into a collection or series? Series tend to have significantly higher downloads and are generally encouraged.
  • Support within your department: If this material is for local use only, then do you have somewhere to publish the files (departmental/project/college webserver?) and are you hosting the subscription (metadata for RSS) locally or going to use OxItems?
  • Support from OUCS: If your material is for public release and you would like to publish it to the University Web Portal (podcasts.ox.ac.uk) and/or the iTunes U site, then there is support from OUCS available. OxItems can hold your podcasting information (metadata for RSS), and OUCS provide a webserver for hosting the media files.
  • Do you have the knowledge or experience to do the this yourself? If not, you can get free training from the OUCS ITLP courses. You can also contact your local IT officer for assistance. Otherwise, email the podcasting team at OUCS via podcasts@oucs.ox.ac.uk.
  • Who is going to do the presenting? Have they any experience with having their presentations recorded? - OUCS ITLP offer courses on presenting for podcasts.
  • If the material is for public release, have you had the presenters/speakers sign the relevant podcasting legal form?
  • Who is going to operate the recording equipment? Do you have the technology you need for your recording? - OUCS may be able to assist via the loaning of a small amount of equipment we have available for public podcasts, and we can offer training and advice on its operation and best usage.
  • Contextual materials: you can supply extra files to go with your podcasts, such as lecture slides (as PDF files), reading lists, feedback forms, transcripts and more. It is always worth checking that all material released through podcasting is suitably cleared for use. E.g. have all the images in your presentation slides been sourced with permission to republish them? Are you featuring any external audio or video clips that may be under copyright?

4.3. Where to publish your content?

Public versus private podcasting: Podcasts are by their nature, publicly accessible and often can appear in many places. It is practically impossible to make digital recordings that can not be copied, edited, relocated, or republished anywhere else. For examples of the technical futility of trying, examine the news reports on film and music piracy. That said, by placing your content in a restricted access area (such as Weblearn) and asking users not to redistribute or share this material, the spread of your recordings can be contained to an extent, if that is your wish. Making your material publicly available, and advertising it with a suitable license (such as Creative Commons) is much more advisable. For more information on licensing and the benefits of public podcasting, please see the OpenSpires website.

The common places for podcasts to appear at Oxford are:

  • Your departmental and or college website
  • Your personal website
  • The University Web Portal for Podcasts (podcasts.ox.ac.uk)
  • Oxford on iTunes U
  • A WebLearn site: this is a good location to store and share files intended for use by a small or specific audience and can also host related materials such as Powerpoint presentations, handouts, etc.
Note: for the podcasting portal and Oxford iTunes sites, speakers need to have signed the relevant podcasting form before the podcasts can be published.

6. Further resources 

A Strategy for Using Podcasts for Teaching and Learning in the Biosciences

This is a practical guide on how to produce podcast to enhance student learning experience.

An evaluation of learner-generated content and podcasting

Education research: this study explores the use of podcasting as a means of developing learner-generated content

MPALA podcast models

A range of pedagogical models to address specific challenges in teaching and learning.

Video case studies:

Making a podcast of a lecture: recording and uploading to VLE
Recording feedback as a podcast and uploading it to a VLE
ePioneers project: vodcasting - videoing lectures