Loyola University Chicago

Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy


The term podcast refers to a series of audio recordings, available online, to which users can subscribe, download, and consume via a computer or mobile audio device. Podcasts can be audio only or can contain blended media—the coordination of images or video with an audio file. One key attribute is the ability to subscribe to the podcast, allowing the user to automatically download new episodes as they become available.

Podcasts can be used to capture and distribute an audio recording of a lecture, or to deliver supplemental content to students such as a digest of important points covered during an online class session or to give verbal feedback to students on an assignment.

What is a Podcast?

Want more information about podcasts, where they come from and how they work? This video from Northern Illinois University "provides a brief introduction to the technology of podcasting and mentions a few of the instructional benefits and considerations for using this new medium for information delivery." Watch the video by clicking play in the YouTube player below.

Or watch the video on YouTube by visiting http://youtu.be/tQFKNcdCdLM.

Pros & Cons

Gives students the opportunity to review content they may have missed the first time it was presented and cover material at their own pace. May prevent students from participating in synchronous activities if they know it will be archived for review.
Ability to record a digest of important concepts can give students an idea of what points are essential for them to review.  
Ability to give audio feedback to students on assignments gives them a more personal response from an instructor.  
If a student has a legitimate reason for missing a synchronous activity (illness, etc.) it can be recorded for them.  
Subscription feature will automatically "push" content to students when it is made available.  
Students can view and listen to content while on-the-go on their mobile devices.  
Ability to sync audio and image components could be helpful for illustrating concepts.  

Best Practices

  • Give students clear instructions on how to access podcasted materials.
  • If using a podcast to distribute mandatory course content, make students aware that they will be required to download and listen to each podcast.
  • Keep podcasts under 20 minutes. A student’s attention span begins to decrease significantly after 15–20 minutes of material have been presented; keeping your podcast within or less than 20 minutes will keep the student more focused on the full content.
  • Limit the number of new concepts covered in each podcast. Limiting your content to 3–5 “chunks” of new material will give students a manageable, but not superfluous, amount of information to store in working memory.
  • Feel free to relax and take a conversational approach when recording a podcast.


Northern Illinois University (2007). What is a podcast? Retrieved from http://youtu.be/tQFKNcdCdLM.