Content Delivery - Podcast

Overview | Instructional Use | Tips | Shortcomings | Technology required | Resources

Podcasting refers to the creation and distribution of digital audio files, most commonly in mp3 format, via the Web. Even though the term is now too broad as to apply it to any downloadable audio file, the original concept of podcasting technology included the ability for the audio files to be automatically downloaded into external portable audio devices, like an iPod (from which the term “podcasting” originated).

Through Podcasting, people can download audio files automatically into their portable devices after subscribing to an RSS feed, that is, an online service available in some websites in which people indicate their willingness to receive periodically the files.

At Indiana University, the iTunes U tool available in Oncourse facilitates the process of making podcasts more readily available to students, faculty and staff.


Portability. Since most online students are non-traditional students who have to manage professional and family responsibilities along with their studies, podcasting provides them an opportunity “to learn on the go”. Instead of needing to be physically in a specific place reading a text or accessing content through the computer, students could simply wear their ear buds and listen the content as many times as they want, rewinding and fast forwarding it as needed.

Content variety. The content of a podcast could be diverse, such as: a) entire classes for those students who might have missed them; b) Interviews or lectures from guest speakers and experts in the field; c) instructor's weekly announcements or summaries of the content covered thus far.

Making use of an alternative channel. Auditory learners might benefit from podcast as opposed of having just text since they tend to remember better when listening to the content instead of just reading it.

  • It is recommended to keep the lenght of the audio files short, maximum one hour. The reason is that very long files a) tend to take longer to be downloaded by the students, b) students might find it difficult to listen to the entire podcast at once, c) it is difficult to access a specific segment of the audio file and the longer the file, the more difficult to find a desired segment.

  • Some microphones, especially desktop microphones, record noise and static. It is recommended to test the quality of the sound of the microphone used. Headsets with an integrated microphone usually work better than the desktop microphones.

  • If creating a podcast of a lecture or class, it is recommended to use a high quality microphone placed strategically to pick up the voice not only of the presenter but also of the attendees.

  • Varying the tone of the voice to prevent monotony is highly recommended.

  • Getting feedback from students about the first podcasts is also convenient.


Lack of interactivity. Audio files are one-way in the sense that learners just listen passively to the content. Additional interactive sessions are needed for students to ask questions or to be able to apply the knowledge acquired through the podcasting.

Lack of visual reference. Not all content is appropriate for podcasting. Content that relies strongly on diagrams of visual representations will be difficult to comprehend just by listening to it. An alternative to this drawback would be creating a narrated presentation or a video file (vodcast).

Lack of direct navigation. Access to the audio files is sequential so it is not possible to access directly a specific desired segment. Most MP3 players allow for fast rewind or forward the content, or even to skip it for a pre-determined amount of minutes. Still, it is not possible to "bookmark" a specific segment of the audio file. For this reason, it is convenient to keep short the length of the audio files, from 30 minutes to an hour.


To produce the podcast you will need:

  • A computer

  • A microphone (some desktop microphones will produce noise, test your mic first)

  • A computer program to record your voice (such as Audacity, available for free)

  • A computer software to distribute podcasts, such as iTunes U which at IU is available through Oncourse (this is optional since the audio files can be distributed in multiple ways).


Headset with Mic

Additional information about Podcasts

Instructional podcasts you can listen and subscribe to

Example of a Podcast file



Additional Resources