The podcast invasion of UC Davis has begun in earnest. KDVS podcasts its radio shows regularly. This year's Fall Convocation was podcast, and IET-Mediaworks, working with University Communications, will soon podcast essays from "My Personal Compass," a campus-wide personal philosophies project (mypersonalcompass.ucdavis.edu). Some UC Davis professors have even begun podcasting their class lectures as a new means of reaching students.
To bring you up to date on this technology, we present you with the following podcast introduction.
What It Is
Podcasting is a way to download and listen to online audio files and watch online video files. Podcasts are like magazines: you subscribe to them, and they are offered in a series. Your "mail carrier" in this instance, is the podcatching software program that retrieves new podcast "editions" from the internet as soon as they're available, automatically downloading them onto your computer. And should you get tired of a particular subscription, you can cancel it at any time.
Unlike magazine subscriptions, however, many podcasts are free! Even some of the podcatching software programs (notably iTunes/Quicktime and Windows Media Player) are free to download.
iPod Not Required
The term "podcast" is an amalgam of "pod" and "broadcast." But don't let the name fool you: you don't need an iPod to download and listen to podcasts, nor do you need an Apple computer. Though somewhat misleading, the name arose for a reason. Apple, the company responsible for the iPod, off ers a lot of software tailored to podcasts, but any podcatching software will do the trick. Mediaworks, the IET campus outpost for media technology, uses Apple's iTunes to conduct most of its user testing, and this software works on both Macs and PCs. It can be downloaded at www.apple.com/itunes/download.
How to Receive Podcasts
\tTo subscribe to and receive podcasts, all you need is a computer, an internet connection, and a podcatching software program (see "What It Is" above). Each program has its own instructions for subscribing, but all of them require the podcast's website address, which you can copy and paste onto your clipboard. Once you've subscribed, podcast updates arrive in your podcatcher automatically. For sample podcatching instructions from KDVS, visit www.asucd.ucdavis.edu/radio/podcast-help.cfm. \t
You can listen to podcasts straight from your computer, on an MP3 player, or on an iPod. Once you've downloaded the podcasts, you can listen to them whenever you want.
Where the Podcasts Are
Free, public UC Davis podcasts will be available at the currently-under-construction site podcast.ucdavis.edu. Once completed, this web page will host most UC Davis podcasts. Class lectures, however, won't be featured here, as they're intended only for students enrolled in the podcast course. Lecture podcasts can be found on class web pages.
Is That All There Is?
University-affiliated podcasts are just the tip of iceberg; search the web for more wide-reaching subject areas, such as Podscope (www.podscope.com) or Podzy (www.podzy.com/index.html). Armed with the above information and your newly-downloaded podcatching software, you sh ould be able to snag any podcast--scholarly or entertaining--that piques your interest.