Subscribing to Podcasts

As you learned when creating a website, having models is a good idea. Besides serving as models for creating your own podcasts, however, podcast subscriptions will help you learn new things and will be useful for your students' learning. In this module, you will learn how to subscribe to podcasts. You will also learn about some popular educational podcasts that might be helpful for you and your students. Finally, you will select some podcasts to subscribe to using a method of your choice. After you have read this page, proceed to the next page to complete an activity in finding, embedding, and evaluating a podcast.

In the Creating Websites segment, you learned about RSS feeds. Podcasts publish RSS feeds which allow the podcast subscription service to catch new podcast episodes. You can even use your feed reader to subscribe to podcasts.

Using an RSS Feed Reader to Subscribe to Podcasts

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Image Courtesy Yagraph in Wikimedia Commons
When a new podcast appears in my Google Reader, I can play it right in the feed reader using the controls on a flash player.

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Other feed readers work in much the same way.

As you learned in the RSS Feeds module in the Creating Websites segment, you can visit a website every day to see if new content has appeared, but subscribing to the site's RSS feed is a much more efficient way of reading new content.

If you locate a site that publishes a podcast, such as Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, you can usually find the podcast RSS feed fairly easily. In Grammar Girl's case, visitors can follow a link to a subscription page.

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If you follow the link, you will find several subscription options.

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Grammar Girl allows users to subscribe to her podcast via iTunes, Zune, or Podcast RSS. If you want to receive the podcast in your feed reader, select Podcast RSS.

Using iTunes to Subscribe to Podcasts

iTunes is a popular method for subscribing to podcasts because it is so easy to use iTunes. Apple's iTunes comes preloaded on all Apple computers and is necessary for managing and syncing your music library to your iPod.

If you wanted to use iTunes to subscribe to Grammar Girl's podcast, you would click the iTunes button on the subscription page on her website, which would prompt iTunes to open, allowing you to complete the subscription process.

What really makes iTunes a good way to subscribe to podcasts, however, is how easy iTunes makes podcast subscription.
  1. Open iTunes. If you do not have iTunes, you can download it here for free (Windows or Mac).
  2. Open the iTunes Store by clicking on the link the "Store" menu.
  3. You will see a menu bar along the top. Click on "Podcasts."
  4. Take a look at some of the podcasts featured in the New & Noteworthy section, Staff Favorites section, and Top Charts.

Let's say you had heard about Grammar Girl's podcast and wanted to subscribe to it in iTunes. Try searching for "Grammar Girl" in the search box at the top of the Store page.

You may see several results.

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In this case, the first result is the one we want. Click the button that says "Subscribe Free." A popup will will appear asking you if you're sure you want to subscribe.

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Click the button that says "Subscribe." That's it! Grammar Girl's podcasts will now appear in your iTunes Library under Podcasts whenever she publishes a new episode.

Let's say you wanted to learn more about a podcast before subscribing and even sample some episodes. That's easy, too. Instead of clicking "Subscribe Free" after searching for the podcast, click on the podcast icon. You will be taken to the podcast's main page.

From this page, you can listen to sample episodes, learn more about the podcast, and read reviews. If you then decide to subscribe, you can do so by clicking a button labeled "Subscribe" under the podcast's icon.

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Are you ready to find your own podcasts? Move on to the next page.

Module 1 | Module 2 | Module 3