Five years ago, in June of 2005 a major evolution in technology landed on many of our computer desktops. The odd part is that majority of people reading this probably had no idea that it had even happened. How could a technological advancement of that magnitude be missed by so many and why am I talking about it a whole 5 years later?
The first answer is simple, the evolution came with the release of iTunes 4.9 with built in support for podcasts (Wikipedia, 2010). Podcasting as a medium for receiving information was not new, but it was the integration with a tool used by millions, iTunes, that really made it accessible to the masses.
To answer the second question, I want to go back to my own summer of 2005. I was spending my summer in Ohio, mourning the fact that all of my grad school friends were away at exciting internships abroad. To pass the time I spent many hours on the web, reading about the coming trends in tech. The moment I read about podcasting I thought, “This is going to be big!” I even remember telling my professors and friends about the medium, and predicting that it would drastically change the way people received their news, listened to music, and learned.
Five years later, I can look back with clarity and see that it did not truly transform everything. It opened the door to something for sure, but it didn’t capture the attention of mainstream America. Podcasting is instead relegated to live in the world of news geeks and information junkies. Fortunately for you, I am both, and I want to share with some of my own lessons on how you can tap into this wonderful world for yourself. Looking for cheap professional development, a way to catch up on the world, or an escape from the student affairs world? Then podcasting might be for you too!
Lessons learned in pursue of the best podcasts
1. Explore areas of interest
As anyone who knows me will attest, I am an info geek. I suck up everything from random fact books to Modern Marvels. So when I went looking for podcasts, I wanted ones that I felt would make me smarter and more informed. I am subscribed to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, and NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me (my favorite). While I recognize that these three news sources won’t fill me in on everything happening in the world outside of my college, I feel like they give me a reality check that the latest roommate conflict or student petition isn’t as big of a deal as it feels in the moment.
2. See what others are listening to
While I suggest that podcasting is still not yet very popular (in comparison to other aspects of poptech), that doesn’t stop thousands people from making new content. The choice of podcasts can be overwhelming. Stumped on where to start? See what your colleagues, or favorite bloggers are listening to. I had trouble finding any one resource with all the HiEd podcasts listed, so I will give you a few of my favorites. Visit BreakDrink.com and jefflail.com to subscribe to their podcasts covering the latest news in higher ed tech and beyond. Check out The Chronicle of Higher Ed Tech Therapy. The podcast is broad in it’s scope, talking about how tech reaches every aspect of the university, but approaches the topic in a way that is accessible for the non-geek.
3. Check major news sources
Feel like you are always playing catch up when it comes to higher ed news? Then subscribe to the big news sources for our field. Try Inside Higher Ed, Chronicle of Higher Ed Interviews, or EDUCAUSE to stay up to date on the latest college controversies or gain new insights. Imagine talking to your boss about the latest exciting thing that you heard about in the Chronicle. Bonus points for being informed and double points for doing it with social media!
4. Search well and Automate it
Start exploring the podcast world with the iTunes store. Most podcasts are completely free, so there is no commitment for trying it. Before you download you can also check out reviews, details on the episode, and length. Freakonomics Radio is only 30 minutes, while many are as long as an hour. Most important to making this work in your busy life is to automate the downloading to your computer and syncing to your Mp3 device. I plug my iPhone into my computer and automatically get the latest episodes for my walk to work.
5. Try something new
While I definitely seek out podcasts on technology, higher ed, and Apple, I also have stumbled on podcasts on other interests such as crafting and politics. You have an interest; they have a podcast on it. The newer trend is video podcasts. You can sync an entire cooking show to your iPod and bring it to your kitchen with you!
Not convinced yet? The reason I was so enamored with this new medium of communication back in 2005 was that it was for people on the go. It allows me to get my news while walking between meetings and catch up on my interests while exercising or cleaning the house. It’s the perfect medium for student affairs pros on the go! If you are already a fan of podcasting, message me with your favorite shows and I will share them with our readership.
To get started, watch podcasting in plain English on commoncraft.com. For those of you who would rather explore than listen to instructions, go to the iTunes music store and click the podcasts link on the navigation bar, or start searching for a topic and see what pops up!
Jessica Faulk is the Director of Residence Life at Simmons. She can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @jessfaulk
1 Wikipedia (06 November 2010) “Podcast”