Podcasting Basics

Podcasts are audio or video files that anybody can listen to online or download onto their portable media player. They are mostly associated with episodic content of a regularly programmed series, such as a radio show. With the decreasing cost of recording devices and release of easy to use media editing tools, producing podcasts is easier than ever!

A podcast can cover a variety of topics, from the archives of a weekly radio program to foreign language guides. Many universities create podcasts of prominent guest speakers, while a class here at UBC uses them as assignments to hone students' storytelling skills. UBC students also create podcasts and audio files to share student opinion and experience via interview.

Podcasts can be an effective storytelling tool. The four tools of a podcast are voice, sounds, music and silence, and it’s astonishing how far these can go to captivate listeners. Without visual distractions, podcasts are able to hone in on specific content and intimately engage the listener.

Archive Class Lectures You can create archives of class lectures for students who missed a class, want to review what you discussed with them, or study during their commute

Digital Storytelling Students can be given assignments that help them explore and share stories about local issues.

Literary Readings Many plays and poems are better understood when read out loud. Dramatic readings help convey expressions and meaning.

Language Learning Help students learn a new language by letting them hear and practice proper pronunciations.

Audio Instructions Easily explain assignments and solutions by creating short "microlectures"

Guest Speakers Share lectures from guest speakers who can give personal and in-depth insight into the latest research and issues.

Interviews Students can hone their interview skills while talking with other students or professors about a wide range of topics.

Podcasts can be produced and used in a variety of ways. Take time to look through the examples below and look into the possibilites on how they can be applied in academic settings.

Podcasts at UBC

LFS 400 - Digital Communication and Topics in Agriculture: a course that supports students in their development as communicators of topics on agriculture and sustainability. Learn more about the project and listen to some student podcasts.

Arts One Open: Podcast lectures offering perspectives on course readings.

Continuing Studies Public Lectures: UBC Continuing Studies shares recordings of their public lectures on topics such as human rights, journalism, and sustainability.

Therapeutics Initiative Podcasts: the Therapeutics Initiative (TI) podcast is a biweekly presentation where practitioners can get a healthy dose of evidence based drug therapy information. TI is an independent organization established by the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

CiTR: similarly, UBC's student-run radio station, CiTR 101.9 FM makes their shows available for download through podcasts. An example is Radio Freethinker - podcast production of CiTR - UBC student radio.

We will be focusing on audio podcasts because they are easier to make than video. You only need 2 things to start recording: a microphone and the software. Once you have both, you can start recording!


There are a number of free applications you can use to record audio. The following software either comes pre-installed on your operating system, while others are free downloads:

Windows Mac Cross-Platform (Windows/Mac)
Sound Recorder


Here are a few useful links if you're looking at microphones.

The DIY Media website has a page on microphone suggestions, going over the various types of microphones available.

  • Choosing Microphones is a 4-minute video from lynda.com which has some helpful tips for deciding what kind of microphone will best suit your needs.
  • Wistia's Learning Centre demonstrates the quality of sound achieved with different mics in this 4.5 minute video.


To set up your mic, you'll need to configure your settings - this should only take a moment.

Windows Mac
  1. Go to Control Panel and click Sound
  2. Once a new window opens, go to the Recording Tab.
  3. By default, you will see the name of the device and sound level meter. If you make any sound near the computer and the bars go up, it means that it is working.
  4. If it says No audio devices are installed then you will have to get an external microphone.
  5. In some cases, the device might be disabled. Right-click within the window and choose Show Disabled Devices.
  6. A list of devices will appear and enable the one you want to use.
  1. Open System Preferences and click Sound
  2. Click on the Input tab.
  3. You will see a list of devices that you can use and choose the one you want.
  4. If it is empty then you will need to get an external microphone.

source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:Podcasting_Basics/DIY_Media


Up and Running with Audacity

Audacity of a free, open-source audio recording and editing program available on Macs, Windows, and Linux. In this course, you learn how to start recording, mixing, and editing your own podcasts using Audacity.

Garageband Essential Training

Garageband is audio recording and editing software available on Macs and iOS devices. In this course, you will focus on the basic functions and features of Garageband to create your own podcasts.

Duncan Mchugh's slides on Audio and Podcasting

Audacity (Mac, PC) - Colin Gray from the UK has a great playlist to help you learn how to use Audacity help.
GarageBand - (Mac) Tutorial
Podcasts in Education, wiki developed for the course ETEC 510: Design of Technology-Supported Learning Environments
Podcasts in Plain English
Production Basics for Media Makers

For Students

Student Podcasting Toolkit

Do you need to find copyright safe sound or images for your project? The following resources can help:

Image Sources: UBC's Copyright resource provides an excellent list of various "copyright safe" image databases and also includes some discipline specific ones as well.
Creative Commons Guide: UBC's Copyright Guide provides lists of databases for free and "copyright safe" sounds, music and video for your digital media projects. It also helps you understand Creative Commons licenses and how and why you may want to apply one to your work.
Public domain resources: this page provides an overview of what public domain is, how material in the public domain can be used, and much more, including quick tips to check if something is or is not considered public domain in Canada, as well as links to public domain sources.

Students and Copyright

Why should I care about copyright?: this student-centered guide, put together by the UBC Learning Commons team, answers questions on the subject of copyright and addresses a number of myths and misconceptions surrounding copyright.
source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:Podcasting_Basics/Resources

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