The boom in portable MP3 players, most notably Apple's iPod series, has spawned many new innovations in how people make use of this technology in their daily lives. Perhaps the most popular application to emerge recently is podcasting, a new form of multimedia broadcasting over the Internet. While podcasting is still in its infancy, it has the potential to make art education content available to anyone, anytime and anyplace.
What Is Podcasting?
Wikipedia defines podcasting as a "method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio programs or music videos, over the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcasting). Although the term originated from combining "iPod" and "broadcasting," you don't actually need an iPod to listen to a podcast--any MP3-compatible media player or computer will do.
Podcasts are usually produced as a series of radio-style programs, with different episodes broadcast over the Internet on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. For example, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art offers monthly podcasts that feature interviews with exhibiting artists, gallery talks by curators, and lectures by art historians (www.sfmoma.org/education/edu_podcasts.html). Once a podcast has been aired, it is typically archived on the Web as a downloadable MP3 audio file.
How to Listen to a Podcast
There are two ways to listen to podcasts. You can subscribe to a podcast series with special aggregator software (such as iTunes or Windows Media Player) which uses RSS feeds to inform you when new podcasts are available, which you can then choose to download to your computer. Your other option is to download individual podcasts manually from a Web site to your computer. Either way, once you add a podcast to your iTunes or Media Player library, you can listen to it on your computer or transfer it to your MP3 player for portable listening at a later time. Please note that most podcasts currently are in the MP3 format and emulate radio talk-show programs. However, with the advent of video iPods, more and more podcasters are using the MP4 format that allows them to combine audio and video content in their broadcasts--voice, music, graphics, animation, and video--a trend that will undoubtedly appeal to artists and art educators. …