The power of the podcast by Kim Thomas. ‘Sometimes, a very simple idea can turn out to be genuinely revolutionary. Despite the geeky name, podcasting is a democratic technology that can be used by anyone. Podcasts are just digital audio files (MP3s) made available over a website; users can listen to them on their PCs, or download them to an MP3 player such as an iPod. Podcasting may, as a handful of universities are discovering, have the potential to make education a more learner-centric experience.
Several North American universities are already using podcasting, but one of the first UK institutions to do so was the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, where physics lecturer Andy Breen decided to introduce it as an experiment in September 2004. Initially, he recorded his own course lectures and uploaded them to the department’s virtual learning environment (VLE). The trial proved successful, and in February, it was extended to other members of the department. Currently, four of Andy’s colleagues are podcasting their lectures, and the college’s library has created a pool of recording devices to enable other departments to follow suit.’