Introduction to podcasting

From Vincentian Encyclopedia

Note: this article is out of day. Information presented here is only useful as a historical study of podcasting within the Vincentian community.

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What is a podcast?

According to ABC.com article What Is Podcasting? it is the latest in on-the-go, on-demand technology. With podcasting, you can watch or listen to video, radio programs or events whenever and wherever you choose. Podcasts are video or audio files that are automatically downloaded to your personal computer, and then transferred to an iPod or other digital media player using a podcasting application.

Portable media players, either audio only or both audio and video, allow to present every kind of file which is recognizable by the device: music files (songs, concert, etc), audio books files, short video clips, slide shows, special broadcast-like programs, speaches, footage and so on. Whatever content can be transferred and recorded as an electronic file can be a podcast.

Podcasting's initial appeal was to allow individuals to distribute their own radio-style shows, but the system quickly became used in a wide variety of other ways, including rebroadcast of traditional radio and television content, distribution of school lessons, official and unofficial audio tours of museums, conference meeting alerts and updates, and by police departments to distribute public safety messages.

Podcasts are a modern electronic books and magazine. They need modern libraries and storages or distribution channels. Most popular way of obtaining podcasts is downloading them from podcast page or subscribing to them. That means that when you are subscribed to a podcast series it will sent to your account automatically. You can also subscribe to syndicated services (RSS,Atom) and the list of available podcasts will be delivered to you as single news page.

How to...

...get podcasts

downloading audio/video files

Getting podcasts from the web is as easy as getting movies, music, pictures: aim the link to proper file, right click the link, and then click "Save link as...". Podcasts are files and managing them is not different form managing other files on your desktop.

To play the file you only need a media player which can open *.mp3 or *.wma files. Sometimes, especially video podcasts are available in MPEG4 or MOV format. The latter can cause some troubles because some players do not open it. Latest editions of Windows Media Player (WMPlayer 9 and higher) can open these files. Alternative applications can make it as well. The most popular audio files player is iTunes with QuickTime (especially for MOV format), WinAmp and RealPlayer. All of them can not only play media files but subscribe to podcasts too. RealPlayer 11 can also download movies and clips from websites (using shockwave flash player).

Some webpages provide audio or video recordings which can be qualified as podcasts but they cannot be dowloaded directly from the page like other files. They are available as streaming audio or streaming video. You need to listen or watch to them live in the browser. There are extensions, add-on applications for internet browsers which allow dowloading streaming audio and video. You can use them to get podcast. However additional format conversion will be necessary because such applications usually record dowloaded files in flash video format (*.flv)

subscribing to podcasts

There are two leading ways of subscribing to podcasts and receiving them regularly. Sometimes podcasts can be downloaded automatically if subscribed.

If you are using applications mentioned above subscribing to podcasts is simple but sometimes requires attention. Numerous web pages that offer podcast subscription can make it easier for users: clicking on "subscribe to podcasts" or "subscribe to iTunes" automatically places download link to the user account.

When you want to have choice, which of the programs and podcasts play or download RSS or Atom feeds are recommended. Using feed readers you can bookmark podcast web page and read the feeds regularly to select those you are interested in. Feeds update automatically. Very easy and convenient solution.


...create podcast

Generally, you can prepare podcasts: audio/video file on any kind of software that allows recording, mastering, editing of audio files. Here recomended is one of the most popular and downloaded free Audacity application. You can use it for any kind of your voice recordings.

It can be downloaded from main download page where you can choose which version you would like. Available for Windows, MacOS and Linux operating systems

When you download the application you can use these recommended webpages from St. John's University resources to learn how to install Audacity and how it works.

...convert audio/video files into podcast

Some audio and video files are recorded in different format from the one media player accepts. MPEG4 is the most common format used for podcasting. MP3 is using it too, but for audio files. Some players accept WMA formatting. When your downloaded video or audio cast cannot be played on your player you must convert the format to acceptable one. Various MP3/MPEG4 converters are available. Some of them are free or allow free functions. They work automatically. You choose which file you want to convert and what output format file is expected.

Where to use podcasting

Podcasting is becoming increasingly popular in education. Podcasts enable students and teachers to share information with anyone at any time. An absent student can download the podcast of the recorded lesson. It can be a tool for teachers or administrators to communicate curriculum, assignments and other information with parents and the community. Teachers can record book discussions, vocabulary or foreign language lessons, international pen pal letters, music performance, interviews, and debates. Podcasting can be a publishing tool for student presentations. Video podcasts can be used in all these ways as well.

These articles: "St. John's eservices" and "The Libraries Launch Academic Podcasting at St. John's can show you one of the ways podcasting can be used in modern education.

Such recording or playlist (converted to applicable format if needed) are standard media files stored on hard drives of you computer, palmtop, media player or at least mobile phones. (if built to store and play files). In general, to prepare podcast you need to have a voice recorder, computer with microphone or line-in sockets and USB port, and universal software allowing you to transfer files form hard drive to mobile devices. You standard dictating machine or cassette recorder can be your podcast generator as well.

No doubts podcasting is more than recommended in pastoral activities, parish ministries, evangelization, religious education and communication. It becomes more and more popular to prepare and distribute Sunday homilies in that way, eg. Bishop Gumbleton - The Peace Pulpit provided worldwide by National Catholic Reporter. How many divisions of our everyday life either spiritual or pastoral or leisure can be affected by various podcasts depends on our own creativity. A list of classical music pieces or popular songs can be formed into a podcast about music. A homily recorded during the Mass or a lecture recorded in the classroom cam be a podcast. Even voice message sent by email instead of typing the message can be considered podcast.

There are parishes, ministries and missions providing various podcast like content on their web pages. St. Mary's Parish in Opelika, Alabama is an example of using podcasting and audio recording to spread the Word of God. Fr. Jack Kane CM (US Eastern Province), the pastor uploads some of his Sunday homilies on the parish web page. Everybody can visit the page and listen to chosen sermon.

Other example of using audio recordings on the webpage is Central Association of Miraculous Medal. Perpetual Novena's in honor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal offered at Mary's Central Shrine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania every Monday of the year prayers and sermons are available as streaming audio directly from the webpage.

It is recommended for webmasters and site editors to consider download links of podcast like content on their pages to make more useful for listeners and viewers. Possibility to reach more listeners/viewers when allowing downloads or RSS/Atom feeds with podcasts is much bigger than when remaining streaming casts only.

If you have podcasts, audio/video streaming pages which you want to share, you are invited to add them to this podcasts directory. If you do not know how to add your podcast links to the wiki page, or you do not know how to make your own podcasts contact John Freund CM or Tomasz Zieli?ski(Toma') for help.


  • Vincentians and Podcasting contains directory of Vincentian related podcasting sites and download links. Some other podcasts recommendations considered useful in everyday ministry, teaching, formation and evangelization can be found there, too.


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