Module 7: Podcasts & Vidcasts

Podcasts and Vidcasts

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module you will:

  • Know what podcasts are
  • Understand why podcasts are useful
  • Know where to find and how to subscribe to podcasts

What are podcasts?

The term “podcast” is a combination of the words “pod” (derived from iPod) and “broadcast”. It refers to audio or video that is streamed over the Internet, but they can also be downloaded in various audio formats. The main difference between podcasts and regular audio or video streaming, such as YouTube, is that podcasts are usually delivered through RSS (see Module 2) using podcast software.

Why are podcasts useful?

Podcasts are portable, meaning you can listen to them on your computer or add them to your personal audio player and listen to them on the go. Despite what the name may suggest, an iPod or iTunes is not required to listen to podcasts.

Furthermore, since podcasts are delivered through RSS feeds, you don’t have to go back to the original site to see if new podcasts are available. Instead, you can subscribe to podcasts that you are interested in and you will be notified through your RSS aggregator when new ones are available. This is the main advantage of podcasts over regular audio or video streaming.

How do I subscribe to podcasts?

Subscribing to podcasts is very easy. All you need is the podcast feed URL, which most podcast directories provide, and a RSS aggregator, such as Bloglines or Google Reader (which you may have set up during Module 2). You will be notified automatically once new podcasts are available.

How can I use podcasts in the Library?

Podcasts are a great way to provide tutorials to assist new users of the library’s resources. For example, the University Map Library’s podcast page has tutorials on how to use GIS software and other geographical tools. See “Other Resources” for an in-depth guide on how to create your own podcast.

Library staff can also stay abreast of current trends in libraries using podcasts like EDUCAUSE, or The Library 2.0 Gang There are many options available.

Podcast Directories

There are several podcast directories and podcast search tools on the Internet.  These are some of the most popular ones which cover a broad spectrum of topics:

  • The “ultimate podcast collection” that covers a wide variety of topics. It has podcasts from featured publishers, such as BBC and CBS news. You can choose to download the podcasts, add them to iTunes, or share them on various social sites. You can even submit your own podcasts.
  • A great directory for podcasts on a wide variety of topics, similar to The layout is clean and simple. This site also provides podcast software for download. You can even submit your own podcasts by creating an account on their site.
  • iTunes Podcasts: Apple’s guide on how to listen to podcasts using iTunes.


Activity 1

If you haven’t already done so, set up an account on Bloglines or Google Reader (Google Ready appears to be more seamless for podcasts). For instructions on how to do this, see Activity 1 in Module 2.

Activity 2

Watch activity 2 here

In this activity you will be subscribing to a podcast using your RSS aggregator (see module 2) and posting to your blog stating which podcast(s) you subscribed to.

  • Sign up for an account with
  • Explore to find a podcast that interests you
    • There are a variety of ways to find a podcast from this site.  Down the right hand side of the page you can browse the podcast collection.  You can also select from the popular choices or  search for a podcast if you already have one in mind. This will provide a list of related podcasts.
  • Click on the Podcast title to obtain a description of the podcast.
  • Click on the “show advanced” button under the podcast image.
  • Select the icon for the RSS aggregator you use and follow the instructions to complete the feed.*

*note: you can also do this manually by copying the URL address of the feed and adding it to your RSS feed aggregator.

  • Click on “Subscribe” (or “Get Podcast” if you used the search option) to obtain the podcast feed URL. Copy the URL and subscribe to it using your RSS feed aggregator. For instructions on how to subscribe to RSS feeds, review Activity 2 in Module 2.

Activity 3

Search one or more of the podcasts directories and see if you can find a library-related podcast. Create a blog post about your discoveries.

If you want to receive a certificate at the end of the Web 2.0 training, please send a screen shot of your podcast in your feed reader to libweb20@library…To create a screen shot either use the program “Snag it” or you can use your keyboard command ALT + Print Screen to capture the image and paste it into the email.

Other Resources


Written and recorded by Rebecca Hutchinson, Kristen Jensen, Rishan Munasinghe and Laura Howell

This post is based on PLCMC’s Learning 2.0 program.

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