Podcasting: The Pros and Cons

Podcasting is something that has been around for awhile now.  But for whatever reason, I haven’t caught on to it.  This week…I had no choice.  As part of my grad school cohort, we were to hunt down podcasts of interests to see what the benefits are.

From here, I’ll discuss three podcasts that I chose to follow, but I will also discuss what I found to be the pros and cons to podcasts.

Podcasts of Choice

Grammar Girl – Mignon Fogarty has top selling books on grammar, a successful podcast, and had appearances on Oprah even.  But why is this podcast so popular?  I think for the same reason I chose to subscribe – it’s relevant grammar for everyday use, and it’s quick.  Each podcast is less than ten minutes and gives very relevant tips on specific inquiries from subscribers.  As an English teacher with limited time, this is great.  I can even use some of her episodes as mini-lessons in my classroom.

TED Talks – The TED Talks series is a vodcast (video podcast) which feature a keynote speaker that has 18 minutes or less to share their enlightening idea with the rest of the world.  Again, the 18 mintes makes the speech concise, yet allows for elaboration and demonstration.  After each one I watch, I do feel myself thinking further about the topic beyond the 18 minutes.  You can’t help but reflect and walk away with a new way of thinking.

YOGAmazing – I will admit, this one has nothing to do with Educational Technology or English, but everything to do with teaching in general.  I have found Yoga to be a fantastic de-stressor after a hard day of managing middle schoolers.  Similar to Grammar Girl, Chaz (the yoga instructor) formulates different yoga workouts based on subscriber inquiries.  And like the TED Talks, this one is a vodcast.  Another big reason to subscribe? I could actually participate with this podcast, adding some kind of interaction.

The Pros of Podcasting

Podcasts provide some benefits:

  1. Updated automatically – Rather than you regularly going back and having to check for new episodes, the episodes show up in your iTunes library automatically.  Convient.
  2. Listen offline – Podcasts can be downloaded to your mobile devices and viewed/listened to later at your convenience without wifi.
  3. Podcasts that fit you – From my examples above, you can build your podcast library to suit your lifestyle.  
  4. Multitasking – If you’re a person who is able to multitask, you can listen to a podcast as you clean the house, mow the lawn, etc.

The Cons

I will admit, I don’t see the full benefits of podcasts:
  1. Podcasts are static – Subscribers can give input as to what they want to hear, but the podcast itself is WAY too static for me.  I can’t click on links that lead to further understanding.  I can’t comment directly to that podcast episode.  It stands alone as something to simply digest.  
  2. Too long – Most podcast that I rejected were simply too long to listen to.  I don’t have time to listen to an hour long episode when really there may be 10 minutes that actually pertains to what I’m interested in.  
  3. Nothing updated – I came across A LOT of podcasts that haven’t been updated since 2010 or earlier. Why would I subscribe to that?
  4. Not engaging – Honestly, other than the ones I chose to follow, they felt like I was sitting through a lecture.  I need engagement.
  5. Students are not subscribers – Simply put, I know my students do not use iTunes to subscribe to podcasts.  Nor would they have an interest.  

YouTube as a Podcast?

I’m a visual person.  I appreciate the video medium more than the audio, and I’m seeing a growing trend in podcasting…YouTube Channels.  By definition, some YouTube channels are podcasts just in different form.  Anyone with a YouTube account can create a “channel” similar to a TV station.  Anyone can then “subscribe” to your channel.  Then, when the channel owner uploads a new video, it appears automatically in the subscribers’ YouTube feed.  My personal YouTube subscription feed looks like this…

Other benefits to a YouTube Channel vs. regular podcasts on iTunes?

  1. The process is much simpler than subscribing to a podcast on iTunes.
  2. I know my students utilize YouTube daily.
  3. YouTube videos can be annotated with link boxes, similar to links in blogs.
  4. You can comment directly on the episode and leave direct feedback, again, like blogs.

The ONLY downfall that I see is you have to have an internet connection.  But I see this being more viable than podcasts on iTunes.  Here’s an actual YouTube channel dedicated to teaching with technology – L & S Learning Support Services.

What do you think?  Am I wrong, cynical, etc?  What are some benefits that you have found to podcasting that I’m missing?  Tell me if you agree or disagree in the comments below.

Mr. Bormann
English Rocks!

P.S. This summer I plan to start my own YouTube Channel where I screen cast how to use specific pieces of educational technology, but also give examples of how to integrate them into a classroom curriculum.  I’ll keep you posted.


4 responses to “Podcasting: The Pros and Cons

  1. Mr. Bormann – I totally agree with you. A podcast can be a video cast, but I did not see to many of those. A YouTube Channel is a much better option and also one that our students are used to. Pushing your idea a bit further, because a Podcast listing on iTunes does seem a bit antiquated and a YouTube Channel is a more natural fit – what do you think about a Facebook feed/group? Are there more students on Facebook than YouTube? Does that take the place of a Podcast now?

    Good overall comments and I totally agree with the sentiment on length. I don't have the time to listen to an hour and a half long podcast that is only audio.


  2. Mr. Ruggles,
    I'm glad someone else agrees. I'm also glad how you brought up Facebook. I have used Facebook to create my own DLC within my school for the last 4 years. I even have some parents that have joined the page. The sole reason for choosing Facebook was because that's where the students were already. I didn't have to have them create anything new. https://www.facebook.com/bormannenglish
    Thanks for taking the time to add your comments.


  3. This was a nice post. I enjoyed your reflection on podcasting. I agree with your pros AND cons. I also did not have the attention span to sit through the long podcasts. I'm not an English teacher, but I am constantly on my students about their grammar. Maybe I will make them listen to Grammar Girl in French class. Seriously. Your ideas about YouTube are excellent.


  4. I like the points that you made about podcasting and youtube. I must admit that I like to watch things too. The thing that I like about podcasts is that I can listen to them while I do other things. It is a personal radio station. I listen to podcasts while I walk, ride my bike or drive. I LOVE TED. Admittedly, there are some that don't have much meaning when you just listen to them. That's when you have to return to the screen.

    The important thing when you use a ???cast in your class is that you are using a medium that will address your students' needs. Thanks for providing such insight on this topic.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s