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The Top Six Reasons to Podcast at a University – Podcast Transcript 14 May 14, 2007

Posted by Jeff in University Podcasting.

The Links and Transcript to “The Top Six Reasons to Podcast at a University” (8:56) released Monday May 14, 2007 (click here to listen):



Good day to you all, my name is Jeff Frey and I am the Web Services Manager for Enterprise Applications at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Keith Harcourt got to know of my work through my website “The How and Why of Podcasting,” and asked me to share some of my research with you. I am delighted, and honoured, to be able to do so.

Without a doubt, a well produced podcast, which, as you can hear, is kind of an individually produced and targeted radio program, raises the profile of a University, a Faculty, or indeed an individual academic. Obviously there has to be some control, and the Press Office, University IT Department and Marketing Unit must be involved if this media is to be used to maximum benefit. In my research, through surveys and polls of peer institutions, and personal experience at Rice University… the top 6 reasons to Podcast at a University are as follows:

The first reason to Podcast at the University is Recruitment and Enrolment. Statistics for podcasts are a tricky thing, you just can’t get the whole story from them… but Registrar’s departments can work with students applying at a university and ask them questions about the advertisements, letters, and media that led them to apply. Of the universities that I have had experience with that use podcasting as a recruiting tool, all have said that the podcasts used were heard and valued by most of the students applying. Maybe it’s that word profile again? The sense that the potential student has felt that he or she knows more about the university from the more personal audio or video. Also, in a Podcast, the listener is more involved. Some of you may well already feel that you know something more about me, that I am talking with you rather than at you; if so this Podcast has achieved its purpose.

Secondly; and you have to judge whether this is as important for you, here in the US Universities are very conscious about raising money. Alumni are actually our biggest donors, so from a marketing perspective it is obvious that a targeted podcast is a good way to reach them. Listening to an ‘alumni’ podcast, alumni feel a renewed connection they had with the university they graduated from. What are other graduates of my university up to? What programs are going on at that university that I might come to, volunteer at, get involved with, or… yes… donate to? You might wish to ask yourselves how such podcasts might heighten the profile of your university, department or individual staff member… my contention is that they are very effective.

The next reason to podcast is the students. Indeed, my research shows that students have a lot of great ideas for podcasting. So, what podcasts have students created that I can tell you about? Well, how about study group podcasts, where a group will get together and discuss the questions, solutions, or top things you should know about a chapter, book, or class. Students may subscribe to that podcast when they are attending the class, and later students carry on the tradition and learn from the podcasts from the semester or year before. How about leadership opportunities, resume building, writing/speaking/technical skills development. A lot of students are creating podcasts about social issues or educational topics to further themselves in certain areas. For example… a medical imaging news podcast by a team of students – some research, some write, some talk, some produce… and all students learn by participating… they also gain name recognition in their field. Consider feedback needed podcasts – students who are members of organizations, classes, or projects that actually need feedback. Some groups setup websites with surveys, psychology and sociology departments need people to for human testing, and some students need feedback on written documents, constructed projects, etc…

The 4th reason of our 6 reason talk here is Staff. Why are most universities in the US podcasting to staff? Staff Development is the answer. I would infer that this topic is also important in the United Kingdom, otherwise, why I am speaking to you now? So, what’s the main benefit that US Universities have seen while podcasting to staff? Increased morale. When you think about it, increased morale is a by-product of paying attention to someone or showing that you want to invest in them. Also, when you podcast to your staff and give them opportunities to learn more about the institution, their jobs, and other peoples jobs at the university… their sense of relating to others (and that they are part of the community) increases. At the beginning or end of each podcast, if you can throw in a fun fact about what is currently going on at the university (the football team won or… Professor Stone got on TV)… staff may feel a larger sense of pride or ‘ownership’ about the university. It’s something to talk about when you see your friend at the supermarket and they say “How are things going at… your university?” Use your staff podcast to increase job satisfaction; present everything from the big picture culture, including specific issues facing a certain groups of employees (like school administrators). Focusing on staff with a podcast can be one of the most beneficial things you can do on campus, and in my survey, again it’s number 4 in the top 6 reasons podcasting is occurring at universities.
Number 5 though, is just as important as the rest: How do you get information out to new faculty… a handbook? What about existing faculty… mass emails? Why not try something a bit more personal… a podcast perhaps?

Podcasting to faculty is number 5 on my list and a great communication tool. Faculty can subscribe to the podcast so that when something changes (a policy, a building closure, etc.) they will be notified immediately. Note my use of the word subscribe; a podcast is something that people actively seek and doesn’t have the negative associations of an uninvited email or paper in their mail box. Archive the podcasts and you create a history so that people can check back into them and learn from them as time goes by.

Finally, though maybe most importantly.. podcast your courses. Though this item isn’t on your agenda today, it is a use of one of the media you are discussing, and in my experience, has great results. Recording classes digitally and posting them is quite easy: I am sure your Audio Visual Technicians and IT Unit will be able to help if you desire to do this. In my research, podcasting your courses shows only positive results. Intending students can get a flavour of your classes and existing students can participate in podcast discussions thus raising their self esteem. The effectiveness of podcasted lectures is enhanced because students can rehear them; it’s simple but true. Keith tells me you use the Blackboard at your University. It’s a good tool to post your lecture notes after classes close, and I would contend that Podcasting is at least an effective extension of that… keeping in mind that the transcripts of the podcasts should be posted as well for accessibility purposes. You may also be surprised to learn that Podcasting, in my research, has no negative effect on attendance at lectures.

Well, these are the reasons that podcasting has become a vital part of the use of media in American universities. Courses broadcast internally and externally, Enrolment for potential students, Alumni, Current Students, Staff, and Faculty. Notice, that each one of these categories is actually a people group… and I think that at this moment in time… that’s what it really comes down to… the university’s heightened connection or “profile” if you will… with people, both internally and externally.

I hope you enjoyed this podcast and thank Keith Harcourt and Peter Stone for the opportunity of addressing you. If you, like me, are enthusiastic about the use of this medium, feel free to find out more and listen to some others podcasts at “The Why and How of Podcasting” dot com. While you’re there, click on the link to my podcasting blog and read more about University podcasting. I’m Jeff Frey… thanks for listening.



1. InsectaPod Blog » University podcasting - July 18, 2007

[…] Frey, an IT guy at Rice University, touched on several of the goals of InsectPod Cast in “The Top 6 Reasons to Podcast at a University” and also outlines other applications and strengths for podcasting in a university […]

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