Monday, April 17, 2006

Education Podcast Network

Podcasting is the key to low-cost audio broadcasting. The first wave of online broadcasting was streaming. Streaming required streaming servers, such as Microsoft's media server. It also ate up a great deal of bandwidth because a certain level of bandwidth was required to maintain an acceptable level of audio quality. The advantage of podcasting is that the user downloads an audio file in the background. Bandwidth is not so much an issues because the file can download at any rate that allows the file to be successfully transferred. Because the file is played from the user's hard drive and not from the Internet, the quality can be high and played at any time the user wants.

Naturally, podcasts are not the solution to everything. They don't work for real-time events. They are also not great if you want to maintain control over the content. One of the advantages of streaming is that it is easier to protect the content. The content can send a command to the user's player disallowing the storage of the content. Of course, this does not prevent someone from plugging in a tape player to the ear jack on the computer's sound card.

So, where can podcasts work? A school radio would be great. News for alumni and other interested groups in your school's activities. Placing lectures online for students who missed a class, might be very helpful. Even if the student was in the class, the ability to hear the class again might be very useful.

What is required to create a podcast? Not much. Many MP3 players can record from a microphone directly to an MP3 file. Plug the MP3 player to the computer and copy the file to your computer. You can then upload the file to web site or blog. This process may only take a few minutes. You can have the class lecture online before the students get home.

This is a rich area to explore. I'll many more postings on podcasting in the near future.


Education Podcast Network -- The Landmark Project

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