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Anytime, Anywhere: How video & audio podcasts can benefit teaching & learning

November 24, 2009

Podcasting is a convenient medium that you can use to help you and your students maximize teaching and learning. You can record your podcast just about anytime, anywhere; and your audience can watch or listen to it just about anytime, anywhere. This article offers a brief introduction to podcasting and a look at how NYU departments and faculty members can use podcasting, along with iTunes U and Advanced Learning Exchange (ALEX), or even Files 2, to augment their courses and connect with their students.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a recording, audio or video, that is delivered via the web. A podcast can be of a single event, but most often, they are episodic – so that, for example, if one is podcasting a course, each episode might be a single lecture or class meeting.

Individuals can "subscribe" to a podcast, so that episodes are delivered to their computers automatically as they become available, much as a magazine subscription might result in home delivery of an issue each week. Alternatively, they can choose to get just a single episode, or selected episodes, of a podcast.

Typically, podcasts are "published" using RSS, which is the methodology that enables podcast subscriptions. If you publish a podcast through iTunes U, ALEX, or your NYU Files 2 space, the RSS part of the publication process is accomplished for you, behind the scenes; otherwise, it involves creating and uploading an RSS file (in XML format) that contains links to all your media and descriptors — metadata, such as title, description, date, etc. (See the Connect article by Nicola Monat-Jacobs, Files 2.0: NYU's New Individual & Group File Management System.)

iTunes U and ALEX at NYU

iTunes U is a media repository service launched by Apple, Inc. as a means of delivering educational audio and video content, using the Apple iTunes Store’s distribution infrastructure and mechanisms, to students within a college or university, and sometimes to the broader Internet community. At NYU, iTunes U is already being used to give University students, faculty, and community members web-based access to content uploaded by NYU departments and faculty members. ALEX is NYU's homegrown implementation of Sakai, a “community source” collaborative learning environment, or CLE. (See the Connect article by Lucy Appert and Barbra Mack, Simonides: A Faculty-Led, Student-Centered Technology Initiative.) ALEX provides personal and collaborative spaces for NYU faculty and students, as well as controlled access to iTunes U course content so that class members (or whomever the faculty member designates) can subscribe to the podcast, and then download it to their computers or mobile devices.

Take, for instance, the NYU College of Dentistry, which records some 85 courses. (See the Connect article by Dr. Elise Eisenberg, iTunesU @ the NYU College of Dentistry.) Other individual faculty members have used iTunes U to podcast just one or two courses. While the recording process might be different in each situation, the interface with ALEX and iTunes U for faculty and students is the same.

Getting Started at the Digital Studio

ITS Faculty Technology Services and Digital Studio staff members work with NYU faculty in support of research, teaching, and learning, and to help them make optimal use of technology in instruction and scholarship. With podcasting, faculty members have the ability to create content in many different ways, depending on the variety of technologies available.

You can start with the technologies and facilities that we have at the Digital Studio. We offer training in podcasting production and post-production, using the iLife and Final Cut Studio Suites. We’ll get you started, and you can then use Studio podcasting stations on your own. Once you become a skilled podcaster, you can even create and develop your podcasts on your own computer. There is a way to podcast for everyone, and your podcast can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be.
Integrating Timeless Methods with Current Technologies

To create a podcast, faculty members can begin by recording the content either in the Digital Studio or on their own, using a laptop, digital recorder, or even an old LP or cassette tape. At the Studio, we can help you capture content, even from obsolete technologies (some of my best recordings came from my trusty Walkman cassette player), and turn it into a digital file that can be used today, with today’s technology.

As a faculty member, you know that organizing content creatively is part of the challenge of presenting information to your students effectively. What makes a recording good hasn't necessarily changed over the years, but the way it is distributed has changed drastically. The same can be said for video. Today, for example, you can create a video podcast in class, using the camera on your laptop and QuickTime Player or Podcast Capture. Afterward, you can export it to an iPod-friendly format, upload it to iTunes U via ALEX, or to Files 2—and the result is amazing!

There are many ways of creating a podcast, and the Digital Studio staff are happy to help you. Let me introduce you to another. Perhaps you already have some interviews on VHS, DVD, DV tape, or even in the more recent High Def formats, and would like to share them with your students. At the Digital Studio, we can set up an iTunes U site for your class, and show you how to digitize this content and integrate it into iTunes U. Your students will then be able to listen to what you want to share with them on their computers, iPods, or other mobile devices, making for better-organized and longer discussions during class time.

To illustrate, two recent projects at the Digital Studio involved Tisch School of the Arts faculty members who wanted to reach their students in innovative ways by using podcasting and iTunes U. Professor Sam Pollard, Academic Director at Tisch’s Undergraduate Film & TV department, used the Studio’s faculty recording area to create podcasts for his Documentary Traditions and History of Editing courses, podcasts that combined phone interviews, video interviews, and audio recordings. The podcasts were then uploaded to the Web and to iTunes U via ALEX. In addition, Professor Pollard used podcasting as a teaching tool by developing podcasts that offered his students access to his interviews with other filmmakers (often integrating videos) prior to the class lectures about these artists.

Professor William Moulton, of Tisch’s Dance department, used Digital Studio services to record content for his podcasts. He is currently recording three of his courses and the students in the class are an integral part of the filming process. Professor Moulton gained expertise at the Digital Studio and partnered with Faculty Technology Services to train his students in video, lighting, shooting, and editing with Final Cut Pro. The students have authenticated access to the lecture content in iTunes U via ALEX. This allows them to revisit and review past lectures for a closer examination of their lessons.

Professor Moulton and his students have also created Department of Dance podcasts for the Tisch website as well as for iTunes U. These include Dance faculty and student interviews and current choreography and dance performances.

Here are some other examples of how the Digital Studio can help you use podcasting to supplement in-class learning:

  • You can podcast a class lecture that you record on location (whether in a classroom or in front of the Washington Square arch!), to give students an opportunity to review the material in greater detail, or so that future students can share the experience.
  • You can interview a colleague while in another city and podcast the video for your students.
  • You can record a phone interview with a researcher working abroad; optionally, add graphics or video in postproduction at the Digital Studio; and then share the interview with your students. 

For more information

NYU's gateway to digital services supporting scholarship and teaching, the Digital Studio is a collaborative resource of ITS Faculty Technology Services and the Division of Libraries. If you are a faculty member interested in making your own podcast for use in the classroom or for research, or are interested in other Digital Studio services, please visit the Digital Studio website at If you are a faculty member who is interested in having someone else record your class, or if you need to request equipment, please visit the Campus Media website at If you have a public event that you would like to have recorded, visit the NYU TV Center website at If you are unsure of your needs, you can contact the Digital Studio for a consultation and we'll get you aligned with the right resources for your podcast.


Paul Galando is the Manager of Production and Post-Production within ITS Faculty Technology Services. Faculty members wishing to make an appointment with the Digital Studio can make an appointment via the online appointment form at

This Article is in the following Topics:
Connect - Information Technology at NYU

Type: Article

Anytime, Anywhere: How video & audio podcasts can benefit teaching & learning

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