Friday, September 19, 2008

tt4t_055 You don’t need an iPod to listen to my show

It’s Friday, September 19th, 2008 and welcome to episode 55 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. This week I have been having a conversation with some of the folks in my Twitter network that has got me to reflect on the current state of podcasting for educational use. What started this reflection was a statistic I saw from my Twitter network that stated only 18 percent of Americans have ever listened to a podcast. More dejecting was the statistic that 63 percent of Americans have never heard of podcasting. How can this be with over 100 million iPods sold?

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The answer may have something to do with the unfortunate naming of the term podcasting itself that is wrongly synonymous with many people thinking they have to have an iPod in order to listen to a podcast. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, 71 percent of people that listen to a podcast today listen using their desktop/laptop computer according to a recent study. That’s nearly 3 out of every 4 people that listen to a podcast listen using their computer and not an iPod.

Being an educator I wanted to find a reliable source to backup this claim rather than repeat statistics that may or may not be true. Companies often spin statistics for their own benefit and things can easily get lost and misrepresented in the marketing hype.

If you are interested in this study a link is provided in the show notes to a report from Edison Media Research called The Podcast Consumer Revealed - 2008 that was released in April of this year.

The report gives, in my opinion, a dim view on the progress that podcasting has made over the past three years. In 2005, the term podcast was named Word of the Year by the New Oxford American Dictionary and the future looked bright.

Podcast - Word of the Year, 2005

So why haven’t podcasts made more progress? I think there are several reasons.

Contrary to popular opinion you do not need an iPod to listen to a podcast. The smart listeners of TechTalk4Teachers already know this but the general public seems to still have this misperception. While the term podcast has been a great marketing tool for Apple the facts are that less than 20 percent of Americans have ever listened to a podcast. I have found this statistic is also unfortunately true for many college students that I have informally polled. Podcasting educators are trying to change this statistic for our students by promoting educational uses for podcasts like TechTalk4Teachers but given a choice many college students still prefer to use their iPods and MP3 players to listen to music instead of listening to educational podcasts, imagine that.

Since most podcasts are free there has been little promotion by the media and corporations to raise awareness of the general public. In fact, free podcasts often compete with products from the major media companies.

So it appears we educators have a lot of work ahead of us in using podcasts as an educational tool for our students. In 2006 the musical group called Uncle Seth put together a catchy tune titled, "You Don’t Need an iPod” that they have generously licensed under the Creative Commons license. There is an embedded You Tube video to the music video for this song in the TechTalk4Teachers blog if you would like to watch.

I have also provided a link to the website where you can download this song for free as an MP3 file and I have provided the attribution information in the show notes as well. This band made this song podcaster friendly back in the days when podcasting was on a less commercial trajectory. Uncle Seth got a lot of publicity from this song by podcasters and now the band also offers other songs for sale. This arrangement was a win-win for the podcasting community and the band. So let’s take a listen to a Public Service Announcement from the Canadian band Uncle Seth, here is You Don’t Need an iPod to Listen to My Show.

Uncle Seth Podcast Public Service Announcement Attribution:
• Credit to the band Uncle Seth
• John C. Havens of the Guide To Podcasting as co-writer,

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

For my Technology Pick of the Week this week I would like to do something a little bit different and link to an article from a recent PC Magazine article called Ten MP3 players – All under $150, a link is provided in the show notes.

Ten MP3 players – All under $150,2817,2329508,00.asp

This article gives you an overview of some of the MP3 player choices out there with the lowest cost being the $39.00 Samsung Pebble. I have also purchased other low cost USB Flash drives with MP3 playback abilities in the past for under $20.00 One nice thing about the low-cost MP3 players is that you do not need to worry so much about losing or breaking the device but the quality does vary from brand to another. You also can make your budget dollars go further and students can have more opportunity to take home an inexpensive device without the teacher worrying about loss of breakage as much.

I am now trying out the Kanguru 2GB flash drive with a built-in MP3 player and have seen these players advertised for under $30.00 The nice thing about a combo unit like this is that you can store your data files and MP3 files all on one device. One negative is that many of the cheaper models use a AAA battery that usually only last about a one day of playing time so investing in some rechargeable batteries is a must.

One reason I have kept the TechTalk4Teachers show in a mostly audio format is that I began listening to podcasts before they were even called podcasts. In the 1990’s streaming media was the technology du jour and there were online radio style shows for all subject areas. That heritage led to podcasting as the technology evolved. The biggest benefit to the audio format is that I can listen to podcasts and do other things at the same time. I typically listen to podcasts while I am driving, exercising, or doing other things so the multi-tasking component helps make me more productive throughout the day. I love to learn new things and by being selective in the podcasts that I listen to I am constantly updating my knowledge and skills in an effort to keep up the hyper-change we all experience as citizens of the 21st Century.

So if you do not have an iPod do not let that stop you from listening to podcasts, as Uncle Seth says 68% listen to podcasts from their computers in 2006. Today that has not changed that much with Edison Media Research reporting that 71% listen from their computers in 2008.

That wraps it up for episode 55 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at just click on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. To leave a comment or suggestion please send an email to or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

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