How to Get Started Podcasting on Your Campus

For every university that has started podcasting lectures or courses, dozens have proved slow to take this step. If you’re an educator who thinks that your university should go digital at long last, you’ll want to take a look at this article appearing in The Chronicle of Higher Education. How to Podcast Campus Lectures overviews the basic questions that you’ll need to consider: What software and hardware will your school need to launch this kind of initiative? What’s the best way to get faculty involved in the project? How will students use these podcasts? What educational value will they have? And what copyright and contractual issues will your school need to consider? This piece will get you off to a good start. If you want to learn more about the nuts and bolts of making effective podcasts, spend some time with our primer: Making Your Own Podcasts: Resources to Get You Started.

Digital MBA: America’s Best Business Schools on Your iPod

The American Idol for Thinking People: The New Twist on Book Publishing

It was probably only a matter of time before this happened. According to The New York Times, Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, has agreed to publish a work by whichever new writer takes first prize in a contest sponsored by the social-networking site, A la American Idol, everyday people and panel of experts will read and vote on the first chapter of books submitted by everyday people.  And although the winner will need to sign the “standard Simon & Schuster contract,” he/she will get their work fast tracked to publication and forgo the  hassle of shopping a book. Also, there’s a $5,000 cash prize and the promise of promotion at local Borders’ book stores.

The underlying logic behind the contest, called “First Chapters,” comes down to this: It’s ultimately people who buy books, so why not let a good sample demographic (’s 175,000 older and more mature users) preview the submissions, decide what they like, and save the editor the effort of guessing what will fly. That makes a certain amount of sense if you’re a publisher, working in a sluggish industry with narrow margins, who is always looking to maximize the odds of putting out winners. However, whether it will further the publisher’s mission of bringing quality books to our culture is an altogether different question, and the jury remains out on this one. You can get more information about the contest by clicking here.

Harvard Now on iTunes: A New Model for University Podcasts?

HarvIt was only a question of when, not if. Harvard has finally carved out a space, albeit a rather small one,
on iTunes. Established by the Harvard Extension School, the iTunes site currently features one free, full-fledged course called Understanding Computers and the Internet, which had previously been issued in other digital formats. (See our previous article.) In addition, you can notably access outtakes from 30 complete courses that the school will offer online for a fee during the spring academic term. (See press release.) These courses fall into three neat categories: liberal arts, management and computer science.

Harvard’s iTunes strategy is rather unique. While most major universities are simply giving away podcasts/information, Harvard Extension is evidently using the Apple platform more for business purposes than for public service. In a vacuum, it’s not a bad idea. In fact, seen in a certain light, it’s innocuous, even savvy. Why not offer teasers to generate more sales for sophisticated online courses? Why not give customers a real sense of what they’re getting into? If there’s a problem with these ideas, it’s simply that they risk clashing with existing expectations — expectations that universities offer podcasts for free and for the public good. And there’s the risk that iTunes users will fail to make a critical distinction between your average free podcast, and a podcast that’s really meant to be part of a very well rounded, fee-based online course. One way or another, the business motive will likely raise some eyebrows. But, our guess is that Harvard will be able to clarify the reason for the new model, and they’ll find in iTunes, as others will too, a new and potentially powerful way of giving visibility to certain forms of online educational content.

Steve Jobs Presents the iPhone and the Podcast World Reacts

Each year, Steve Jobs kicks off MacWorld with a big address, which either confirms or quashes all the rumors and speculation about the new wave of Apple products. It’s usually a big deal, and this year didn’t disappoint. Jobs delivered with flair the iPhone, which Apple hopes will revolutionize the cell phone market as the iPod did the portable music player market, if not the entire music market itself. And then there is Apple TV, which will let you wirelessly play your iTunes content (movies, TV shows, music, photos and podcasts) on your widescreen TV.

If you have some downtime, you can check out the video of Jobs’ speech on iTunes or via QuickTime. For initial thoughts on the iPhone, you may want to read David Pogue’s and Walter Mossberg’s early reviews (and also Pogue’s iphone FAQ), and for commentary across the podcast world, you can listen in on:

  • GeekBrief.TV’s quick survey of announcements iTunes Feed
  • Engadget’s podcast commentary of new products iTunes Feed
  • MacWorld‘s review of the keynote and new products iTunes Mp3 Stream
  • Robert X. Cringley’s take on Apple’s trademark conflict with Cisco iTunes Feed
  • MacBreak Weekly iTunes Feed
  • Forum on Technology & Society – A panel discussion on the new gadgets and how they affect our society iTunes Feed

Also see Open Culture’s Technology Podcast Collection.

Podcasts to Hit Inflection Point in ’07

During a radio interview yesterday (iTunesmp3), Jon Gordon, the host of Future Tense, asked me

whether universities will continue pouring content into their iTunes troves in 2007. The answer boiled down to this: Podcasting stands poised to proliferate in ’07, much like the web did back in ’95 and ’96. Just a year ago, the New Oxford American Dictionary selected “podcast” as the “Word of the Year.” The buzz is out there. But how many people have ever listened to a podcast firsthand? It turns out not too many. In a recent survey, the Pew Research Center found that only 12% of web users have ever worked with podcasts (as compared to 7% one year prior), and only 1% download them daily. These numbers are partly a reflection of supply and demand. Not too long ago, podcasts were fairly limited in number. But, during the past 12 months, many universities (see our full collection) have carved out some space on iTunes and developed substantial collections. Somewhere in ’07, we should hit an inflection point. Supply will increase demand. Demand will trigger more supply. We’ll see exponential growth and never look back. The days where you could personally keep tabs on all the great new podcasts will simply be over, although we’ll sift through them and highlight what’s worth your time.

Resources Mentioned in Interview:

Worldly Citizens Take Notice

offers you something that you’ll most certainly want: an on-demand video portal that lets you access wherever, whenever you want the leading-edge ideas of prominent newsmakers — politicians, business leaders, authors, scientists, artists and more. All of the video comes from well-regarded organizations (C-SPAN, The Council on Foreign Relations, The Commonwealth Club of California, The Cato Institute, to name a few). And a quick tour gives you access to some noteworthy talks. A few that stood out were those by Jimmy Wales (Founder of Wikipedia), George Packer (the New Yorker writer who has reported extensively on Iraq), Karen Armstrong (the bestselling writer on Islam and other world religions), Isabel Allende (the Chilean writer who authored House of the Spirits), and Andrew Sullivan (a sensible conservative & blogger who just published The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back). A good complement to FORA’s collection is the University Channel, a project organized by Princeton that we wrote about not too long ago. Both are worth a good look.

The Art of Reading a Poem (According to Harold Bloom)

Most university podcasts allow the outside world to listen in on fairly polished and formal campus lectures. But this podcast is different. As part of its new iTunes initiative, Yale University has recently released a recording of famed literary critic Harold Bloom (see bio) teaching a seminar on “The Art of Reading a Poem” (listen above). Here, Bloom endearingly takes his students through a poem by Wallace Stevens, Parts of a World, and constantly moves between interpretation and digression — digressions that are often filled with intriguing personal anecdotes (as well as frequent laments for other thinkers from Bloom’s generation who have since passed away).

The podcast is notable for being remarkably unedited, which has its pluses and minuses. On the downside, the seminar doesn’t really get going until 13 minutes in (so consider starting there), and the first few minutes include a long stretch of silence when Bloom excuses himself from the room. On the upside, the unedited cut creates a kind of cinéma vérité experience for the listener. You get to hear Bloom, one of America’s best literary critics, working in the classroom in an unadulterated way, teasing apart a poem by one of America’s best poets. There is something immediate, pure and exciting about this way of using the podcast, an approach that universities should look at more closely.

See more University Podcasts here.

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