We’ve been preaching the gospel of podcasting for education since the earliest days of the medium, way back when Adam Curry brought down the first RSS “podcatcher” from the mountain top. Typically, one might say that times were simpler then. The number of podcast programs available to choose from then measured in the hundreds versus the tens of thousands today. And the programming material was quite free form and even experimental. However, while the podcast landscape was easier to navigate, the tools used to do it weren’t. A successful podcasting experience was, more often than not, determined by how well one’s podcast manager application could retrieve content from a feed, store it locally in an organized manner, and most importantly get it transfered to the portable media player of choice. Not a simple process.
In recent years things have gotten much easier. There are many good desktop podcasting applications for all major computing platforms, and podcast functionality has in many cases been integrated into other more general purpose Internet media players. At this point, determining which is the best podcast application is as much a matter of personal preference as anything else.
The list is fairly representative and includes good tools (all are free) from each of the major computer platforms:
- gPodder (Windows/Mac/Linux)
- Zune (Windows
- Miro (Windows/Mac/Linux)
- iTunes (Windows/Mac)
- Juice (Windows/Mac/Linux)
For the most part, each of these applications is a dedicated podcast client, with podcasting baked into its core functionality. Juice for example was one of the original podcast managers (formerly named iPodder) and has been a mainstay in the field for years. Podcasting functionality was added to iTunes a number of years ago, and with the continued growth of both general podcasting and iTunes U educational podcasting, it has continued to increase in prominence within the application. Miro too is more of a general purpose media manager that additionally does a very good job of managing podcast subscriptions and content.
What about mobile?
Missing from this list are any mobile podcasting applications. Likely it is still a bit too early in the game for a mobile app to make it into a Top Five list, but there are a number of good choices in the mobile arena already. The gap between subscribing to media, downloading it, and playing it on a mobile device is getting smaller and smaller, and in some cases disappearing altogether. Perhaps the next time this list is compiled it may also contain entries such as: DoggCatcher and Listen for Android; iTunes for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad; Nokia Podcasting; and more…