This is a very short course, a primer of sorts, about podcasts.
- Never heard the word? Definitely spend a few minutes here.
- Already know? Read the technical definition to find out why it’s different than YouTube.
- Finally catch a glimpse of the power of podcasting. It’s changing education and might change your life.
Want to listen to a version of this course? Click play below.
Rather read (or read along)?
There are three sections covering the non-technical, technical, and “vision” definitions of a podcast.
1. Non-technical definition of a podcast
Podcasts are shows.
That is the gist of what a podcast is. It’s a show.
You listen to radio shows on your radio. You watch TV shows on your television. You listen to or watch podcasts on your smartphone or your computer.
A podcast is a show you access through the Internet.
Podcasts can be either audio or video, and some podcasters do both. But most podcasts are audio only.
Up next is the technical definition. If you just want to skim through it quickly, that’s okay.
However, this next section will explain why a show on YouTube or Facebook Live is not a podcast.
2. Technical definition of a podcast
These are just a few of the technical definitions of podcasts. As you will notice, there are some similarities and differences in how the term is defined.
From Daniel J. Lewis
For the most technical definition of a podcast, here’s Daniel J. Lewis from the The Audacity to Podcast.
“Podcast” is a technical label for a specific method of distribution. By definition, a podcast is episodic audio, video, PDF, or epub content distributed through an RSS-formatted XML feed and downloadable via the tag.Source: http://theaudacitytopodcast.com/are-you-really-a-podcaster-and-should-you-really-be-podcasting-tap182/
Let’s break that down.
- Method of distribution
It’s how a podcast producer is able to get the show to you.
There’s more than one episode. It’s not just a one-time speech or sermon recorded and stored on a website.
- Audio, video, and even text
Most podcasts are audio or video, but you can deliver other digital materials as well such as PDF documents and digital books.
- RSS feed, XML, enclosure tag
The location of that audio, video, or text is inside that enclosure tag. That’s how your smartphone or computer knows what to download.
Facebook Live and YouTube do not (as of 2020) offer RSS feeds so you can download and listen to episodes on your mobile device. That’s why the shows on those platforms—technically—are not podcasts.
An audio program produced on a regular basis, delivered over the Internet in a compressed digital format and designed for playback on computers or portable digital audio players, such as the iPod.
The term podcast refers to the program itself; each individual audio recording is referred to as an episode.Source: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/podcast
Perhaps it’s important to state clearly here in light of the references to the iPod. You don’t have to have an Apple device to listen to podcasts.
Got Android? There are podcast apps for that including Google Podcasts. Or you can listen to a podcast with your desktop or laptop computer by going to the podcaster’s web site.
Need more technical definitions of “podcast?”
If that’s still not enough technical knowledge for you, search for those terms mentioned above: RSS feed, XML, enclosure, podcast, podcaster, podcasting.
Just keep this in mind. From the perspective of most listeners, the technical definitions do not matter very much. A podcast is a show they can hear on their mobile device or computer.
3. Vision definition of “podcast”
If you’re using a desktop or laptop computer, you could simply go to a podcaster’s website and listen to the podcast there.
Nothing wrong with that.
If that’s convenient for you, go for it.
However, when you use a mobile device, podcasts become something else—something powerful that affects space and time.
And podcasts give you options you’ve never had before.
With a smartphone, MP3 player, or other mobile device, you can take podcast shows anywhere.
You don’t have to sit in front of your computer and stare at the screen.
You are free to go and do other things.
You can listen when you are:
- Walking the dog
- Cleaning the house
- Mowing the yard
- Shopping for groceries
No more couch potato lifestyle!
Back in the old days (just a few years ago), there was something called “appointment viewing” or “appointment listening.” If you wanted to watch a TV show or listen to a radio show, you had to tune in at a specific time.
You can still do that, of course, but podcasts give you the ability to time-shift your watching and listening.
You can now listen whenever it’s convenient for you.
There are thousands of topics on more than a million podcasts.
You don’t have to limit yourself to the “morning zoo” on your morning commute. You don’t have to watch reruns again on television.
Want to learn about technology, history, leadership, health, exercise, the Bible, language, marriage, parenting—there are podcasts for that.
Podcasts are a powerful way to access entertainment and education.
If you are a lifelong learner, then podcasts are the way to always be learning.
If you are an educator of any kind, you can make your teaching, training, and coaching mobile so people can listen and learn on the go.