Podcasting as the Classroom
Unsurprisingly, someone has started something called The Education Podcasting Network. It looks like there's already a number of podcasts posted there, ranging from shows about English Literature to Elementary School related series. (Definition: Podcasts are serialized audio files intended for being heard on a portable MP3 player, most famously the iPod, but enjoyable via any MP3 player or your computer.)
Portable MP3 players will presumably continue to drop in price over the years (I got mine on clearance at Radio Shack for 40 bucks, and it will work until I can afford to get a bigger better one), and MP3 files will be listened to more and more over peoples' cell phones, so you can expect content to be delivered via subscribably audio files in a large number of fields. Education is a very logical one.
I can't tell you how exciting it is to live in a small town but be able to listen to news from around the world via downloadable audio files. I listen to Democracy Now and Free Speech Radio News every day and The Global Shortwave Report every week, just walking around town or biking to and from work. (You can see what I'm listening to on the right side bar of this blog's front page.)
Being freed from the time and space restrictions of having to listen to those shows when they are broadcast over the radio or having to sit at a computer makes it a fundamentally different experience to listen (the industry calls it time-shifting). Being able to learn similarly via education podcasts only makes sense. I know that I just graduated with a degree in Political Science, but was largely disappointed with the experience. Many methods of learning have worked for me much better than school, and listening to an hour of high quality news from around the world each day followed by 2 hours of lectures from fascinating people while I'm sitting on the bus or doing my dishes...that's an intense state of perpetual education.
People say that most people around the world will experience the internet first, if not only, via mobile phones. All the more reason why information available via audio is key.
Update:Check out ArtMobs, a group of art students producing "unofficial" audio guides to the Museum of Modern Art and other galleries. Very cool.
See also Podscope, a Podcast search engine. Education Podcast Network found via John T's Furl Archive feed.
Technorati Tags: Podcasts, Education