Just what is podcasting? To put it in a nutshell podcasting is the distribution of media, generally over the Internet, in some sort of computer file. The name comes from two sources: the first is the Apple iPod, the second is broadcasting. The two were put together to form the concept of podcasting, a part of the media revolution of the Internet which has completely altered the way that content is distributed in our modern world.

The idea behind podcasting is really very simple. The podcaster creates some sort of media, say an audio file. They put it up on the Internet where it can be downloaded by Internet viewers. They can this play this media either on their computer or in some sort of external media player (for instance the iPod, for which podcasting is named).

Podcasting has allowed many people to create their own media programs. Some, for example, have created weekly audio programs related to whatever topic they are interested in. In fact there have been entire online radio networks which are based on this concept of podcasting. Due to the simplicity of the process just about anyone can be a podcaster these days.

In the world of audio podcasting the most popular media format is the MP3. MP3s are famous for their ability to compress audio data into a small file. This has made it the format of choice for online audio distribution, not only for music but for lectures, audio books and more. Because it is the primary format used with the iPod (which is not called an MP3 player for nothing), it is no surprise that it is the most popular format for podcasting as well. For video podcasting, a similar technology is often used: the MP4 which is the format of choice for many portable video media players.

With some podcasting technology it is also possible to create live podcasting programs that allow for listener interaction. This pushes the podcasting abilities to the limit and brings it ever closer to its analog, the traditional radio show. One of the popular programs to create these sorts of live and interactive podcasts is TalkShoe, which allows not only for call-ins but also live Java based chat and other features for listeners to the podcast.

While it was a technology initially popular for the creation of individual radio programs, podcasting has now seen an increasing popularity in the world of education. It is easy to understand the appeal of podcasting technology to education: it allows for quick and simple distribution of materials beyond mere text to any number of individuals through a centralized source.

Uses in education include distribution of materials, recording of lectures or reports, interviews and more. Students can also create podcasting projects for their school assignments. Some have also used the technology to create online penpals where the pals communicate via podcasts rather than through pen and paper. With the introduction of video podcasts the possibilities are even grander than ever before for the use of podcasting in the world of learning.