Video Podcasting in Perspective: ...
J. EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS, Vol. 36(1) 3-17, 2007-2008 VIDEO PODCASTING IN PERSPECTIVE: THE HISTORY, TECHNOLOGY, AESTHETICS, AND INSTRUCTIONAL USES OF A NEW MEDIUM ABBIE BROWN, PH.D. East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina TIMOTHY D. GREEN, PH.D. California State University, Fullerton ABSTRACT An examination of the current state of the art of podcasting, with a focus on video podcasting. Included are a review of the history and technical aspects of podcasting and an overview of current educational applications of podcasting. A detailed description of an experiment conducted in creating and distributing video podcast episodes is provided. Issues related to the development and distribution of podcasts are discussed. Podcasting, the technology of distributing sound or video files to users that subscribe to receive those files, has received a great deal of attention from the press as well as from educators interested in podcasting���s potential as an instructional medium. Ellis (2006) reports that market research indicates the proliferation of podcasting is directly related to the expanding use of portable digital audio players, and it is anticipated that the number of podcast listeners in the United States will increase to around 57 million within the next few years. Instructional designers are predicting greater use of podcasting as a solution to challenges faced in training and development. Instructional designers are predicting that, ���more learning will be chunked for delivery in snippets to be received by learners who are multi-tasking��� (Donnelly & Berge, 2006). 3 �� 2007, Baywood Publishing Co., Inc. doi: 10.2190/ET.36.1.b http://baywood.com
As with the advent of film, radio, television, and computer networks, educators are faced with an exciting new medium that seems to hold tremendous potential for instruction. Determining how best to exploit this new medium���s strengths is no easy feat. This article begins with an overview of podcasting���s (incredibly brief) history describes the medium���s technical specifications and examines its current use in educational settings. The authors then describe their own efforts at producing and distributing a pair of short, content-free, video podcasts in order to get a better sense of exactly what is involved in the process. The article ends with a discussion of issues that should be considered as the use of podcasting for instructional purposes increases. PODCASTING: NOVEL AND NEWSWORTHY Podcasting is by far the youngest of the major Internet technologies that include such things as e-mail, the Web, and Internet Relay Chat (Ellis, 2006) podcasts have been available for less than two years, but the idea of podcasting has captured the media���s attention. The New Oxford American Dictionary named podcasting the ���word of the year��� in 2005 (Madden, 2006 Oxford University Press, 2005 Wikipedia, 2006). Magazines, newspapers, and news-oriented Web sites have regularly mentioned podcasting since late 2004 (Braiker, 2004 Howe, 2006 Lewis, 2005 Miller, 2006). The original concept of podcasting was developed by Internet entrepreneur and former MTV veejay Adam Curry. Curry contributed to the development of the software product, iPodder, which facilitated the routing of audio files to digital music players. Curry then worked with Dave Winer, the creator of RSS (Really Simple Syndication���which forwards Internet-based text feeds to subscribers) to develop a method of sending audio files through RSS instead of text (Braiker, 2004). Podcasting has grown exponentially since its introduction in late 2004. In November of 2006, more than 17 million podcasts were downloaded that is seven million more than the ten million downloads reported in April of that year (Madden, 2006 Miller, 2006). According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project���s February-April 2006 survey, 20% of American adults and 26% of Internet users report owning an iPod or MP3 player (Madden, 2006). While these items are not necessary for listening to or viewing podcasts, it stands to reason that owning these items creates a greater demand for content appropriate to their use. Podcasts are by-and-large free and the novelty of listening to or viewing them is still very much a part of their appeal. PODCASTING TECHNOLOGY A podcast is an audio or video file placed on the Web for individuals to subscribe and listen to or watch using a computer or a portable digital media player 4 / BROWN AND GREEN
such as the Apple iPod. The term ���podcast��� like that of ���radio��� or ���video��� can refer to either the content or the method of delivery. One of the appeals of portable digital media players like the iPod is that users have access to audio or video media when they are not sitting at traditional desktop or laptop computers. Unlike a television or radio broadcast, which requires the mobile listener/viewer to be within range of the broadcast signal and to listen to or watch the content at the time of the broadcast itself, a podcast is media downloaded into the user���s personal digital storage and may be listened to or viewed any time after the initial download. Winer (2004) observes that podcasting works similarly to a desktop aggregator. One subscribes to a set of feeds, and then can easily view the new items from all of the feeds together, or each feed separately. Podcasting works the same way, with one exception instead of reading the new content on a computer screen, one may listen to or view the new content on any portable digital media device that can play MP3 and/or MPEG4 files. The most common portable digital devices are around the size of a large candy bar they run on rechargeable batteries and can operate for anywhere between one and six hours before needing a recharge. The popular video iPods, with either a 30- or a 60-gigabyte capacity, allow users to store and play digital video and still images as well as sound files. The authors note from personal experience that the video iPod���s 2.5" screen is remarkably clear. Some portable digital media devices play audio files only and are extraordinarily small (the latest iPod Shuffle is essentially a small spring-hinged clip that can be attached to one���s clothing). Video Podcasting or Vodcasting Although audio podcasting is a relatively recent technology itself even more recent is the phenomenon of video podcasting or ���vodcasting��� (that is, podcasts that contain visual information either in the form of still images, animation, or video). Vodcasting does not require special server distribution software the way Internet broadcasting does (SCVI.NET, 2006). This means vodcasting may be useful as both a means to communicate content (Descy, 2005 Ellis & Cohen, 2001 Touvinen, 2000) and as a means of amateur and/or student media production (Anderson, 2005). THE USER EXPERIENCE: THE ALLURE OF PORTABLE MEDIA Johnson (2005) points out that portable media players like Apple���s iPod are not home computers but body computers, fashion accessories that now want to be cameras, TVs and radios. The iPod has become a sex symbol of self-expression, a hi-tech fetish that���s helped us see the media as something to be individually programmed. VIDEO PODCASTING / 5