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Podcast: What Does It Mean?

by Doug Jackson, Associate Vice President

Increasingly, we hear the term “podcast” or “podcasting”.  With the popularity of the Apple iPod, the term podcasting was initially tied only to that specific device.  The term has a much broader scope now.  Podcasts refer to any audio, video or digital media that is distributed to any computing device (i.e. portable media players or personal computers) on a regular or demand basis.  The word podcast is similar to ‘broadcast’ in that the term can refer to the content itself or to the method used to distribute the content.  There is an excellent definition at Wikipedia at:

iTunes Screenshot

In fact, you don’t need an iPod at all to do this. Almost all computer devices can utilize podcasts. They are simply digital streams of information that can be downloaded and played on your computer or handheld computing device.  There are readily available archives of podcasts you can easily use, the most well-known off which is iTunes (also from Apple).  Many of these services, including iTunes, are subscription-based services, but don’t be scared off by the term.  Just because a service is subscription-based does not mean there is an associated cost; it only means that the requestor must be known to the service.

Why podcast?

Common uses of podcasts are to deliver content, such as distribution of previously recorded radio and tv content, lectures, tours of museums, distribution of public safety alerts, and basic “how to’s” on a wide variety of topics.

Faculty in particular, may be more interested in the prospect of creating their own podcasts related to instruction.  While there is no real evidence that podcasting will provide any functionality in replacing or substituting for lectures, it can provide real supplemental functionality to many courses.  And it is increasingly used by faculty across the country to do just that.  Podcasts enable students and faculty to share information with anyone at any time.  Absent students can potentially get a recorded lecture of a given class or simply use the podcast to review lecture materials for study.  Podcasting can be used to support book discussions, vocabulary/language lessons, music performances, interviews, debates, or even presentations with embedded slides.  These are all excellent academic uses of podcasting technology.

Podcasting at Sac State

IRT provides a variety of services in support of podcast development.  There are two rooms setup to create podcasts in the AIRC building.  These are referred to as “origination” rooms and can be reserved through IRT Video Services.  Faculty who wish to develop their own podcasts should contact the Helpdesk at 278-7337 to get more information, to discuss ideas or to reserve available facilities. Sac State also has the ability to provide finished podcasts through at least two distinct venues.  One is through the video/audio streaming service managed by IRT.  The other is through iTunes U, which Sac State participates in.  A number of faculty at Sac State create their own podcasts in support of their instructional activities on a regular basis and already utilize the origination rooms.

So podcasting is here to stay!  And it doesn’t matter if you have an iPod or iPhone or not as there are numerous ways to develop and distribute the finished podcast to the desired audience.  If you are a faculty member and wish to have a lecture recorded with the intent to podcast, please contact us.  IRT is working to provide a wider scope of services related to podcasting and digital media.  If you have general request or suggestions about podcasting, please send them to

Now, I need to get back to my latest download of the Round the World Sailing competition!  Happy Podcasting!

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