What is a podcast and are they good for learning?

What is a podcast and are they good for learning?

05 Oct 2022

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The revolution in technology and communication brought about by the Internet provided a second wind for traditional radio based content. This started to evolve during the 2000s in digital format, but it was not until recently that podcasting has really taken off with the explosion of popularity that they have now. Last year alone it was estimated there were more than two million active podcasts and still rising. Three years before, there had only been about a quarter of that. 

This CPD article will unpack everything you need to know about what a podcast is, as well as take you through whether podcasts are good for learning, the benefits and disadvantages, and what you need to start a podcast.

What is a podcast?

Simply put, a podcast is a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new instalments of which can be received by subscribers automatically. Podcasters often publish episodes on a regular schedule. There is no prescribed format, length or style for a podcast. 

Podcasts may cover a range of subject areas, but an episode often focuses on one particular topic or story. While podcasts started out as a completely audio medium, with the growing popularity of podcasts, many podcasters have embraced video podcasting as a way to stand out and reach an even bigger audience.

Are podcasts good for learning?

Starting a podcast is one of the best and most effective ways to present information to your audience. For decades, podcasts have been used for leisure and entertainment. However, in recent years due to the increased popularity and advantages of this method of teaching, many institutions have begun incorporating podcasting into learning, so far with largely positive results. This can mostly be attributed to the ease of creating and consuming this format, as well as the various ways in which podcasts can be used to enhance the students’ learning experience.

Podcasting can be very effective when the right mix of structure, quality, and engagement is used. Podcasts and other forms of audio learning can offer educators an easy alternative way to provide course content, whether in the form of lectures central to the course or in supplemental materials like interviews with experts and discussions on issues that are central to a course.

How podcasts are good for learning

What are the benefits of using podcasts for education?

Besides informing us and inspiring us, podcasts can be great learning tool. With podcasts, you can choose the content and form that fits your particular lesson, and the possibilities are endless: fictional stories, educational and inspirational TED talks, current events/world news, history, sports, pop culture, entertainment, and investigative journalism.

Here are some of the benefits of using podcasts for education:

  • Learners can listen to podcasts anywhere, even on the go.
  • Reading along with the audio helps with focus and can keep learners from "spacing out" while listening
  • Podcasts are easy to fit into students daily routines.
  • Compared to other (often less engaging) teaching methods, podcasts are one of the most cost-effective options you could choose.
  • Are a great way to teach new content, something suited for passive learning.
  • Can make it easier to catch-up on course or lesson content.
  • Able to accommodate a wide variety of learning styles.

Disadvantages of using podcasts in education

  • Can be quite time consuming to produce and edit.
  • Not easily searchable online.
  • Accessibility for some learners can be an issue. Internet is required for people to access the podcasts and it becomes difficult to reach a wider audience if the internet is not available.
  • Finding and reaching your audience can be challenge due to the wide number of podcasts available.
  • IP and content protection can be difficult.

What do you need to start a podcast?

You don’t need to be a very technical person, nor does it require a lot of money to learn how to start a podcast. As a business owner or individual, learning to start an entertainment or educational podcast is something you should consider to help you reach the increasingly growing audience that can be found online.

The first thing you need to do when deciding what you need to start a podcast, is to figure out what your overall topic is going to be. Ideally, it should not be too broad. You may want to try studying the journeys of other podcasts that already exist in your sector. Read reviews by experts as well as comments by followers. Such feedback tells you the areas that require attention. With a clear understanding of the podcast environment you want to target, you can start to develop your podcast.

How to start a podcast - step by step guide and tips

With that being said, it can be useful to ask yourself these questions before getting started.

  1. Why Are You Making a Podcast?
  2. Who is Your Podcast For? Give your audience/students a reason to listen.
  3. What Format best serves your own and your listeners needs?
  4. Where will you record? You will need at least a computer with a USB microphone and access to the internet to record your podcast.
  5. For your USB microphone or audio you will need some software to actually record and edit the audio.
  6. Once you are set up with a microphone and your editing you will need a script or notes on topics so you know what to say.
  7. Next comes the editing. You can remove anything from awkward pauses, toilet breaks, to coughs and sneezes. You will find there are no shortage of things you could edit out in the post-production phase.
  8. Your podcast logo will often be viewed as a thumbnail so don’t cram any small text onto it. In fact, the only text on there should ideally be your podcast name.
  9. For people to hear your podcast, you’ll need a hosting account, sometimes called a Media Host (MH). Media or Podcast hosts are services that store your audio and allow your listeners to listen, download, and subscribe to your podcast. If you’ve already got a website for your business or your brand, then you don’t need extra web hosting. You can just set up your podcast on your main website.
  10. Once your podcast is launched, and out in the world, that’s when you’ll move on to thinking about promotion and Marketing, building up your listener base.

Become a CPD accredited training provider

There are a wealth of online courses, step-by-step training programs, and even existing podcasts that will teach you how to start a podcast or further improve your skills and knowledge. Within our CPD Courses Catalogue there are thousands of courses, certified training programs and eLearning suitable for any ongoing learning which you may find useful.

We hope this article was helpful. The CPD Certification Service is the world’s leading and largest CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. If you are considering becoming a CPD training provider, please contact our team to discuss in more detail. Alternatively, if you are looking to record your Continuing Professional Development, please go to the myCPD Portal where you can manage, track and log your learning in one simple place.

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