U offers podcasts to help deal with school

Other universities already are using the technology for academics.

Jamie VanGeest

Now if students are putting off homework or about to have a nervous breakdown over finals, they simply can connect their MP3 players to their computers to help relieve stress.

The University’s Office for Student Affairs is offering students podcasts, which are audio clips that can be downloaded onto an MP3 player, such as an iPod, or a computer.

The topics of the audio clips include avoiding procrastination and managing stress. This is one of the University’s first attempts at using podcasting to enhance the academic experience, but other universities across the country are using podcasting everywhere on campus, from the dorm rooms to the classrooms.

University Counseling and Consulting Services created the content for the podcasts as a way to deal with what Scott Slattery, a staff psychologist, called “the 11th hour.” Students come in the week before or after finals for academic advice and stress relief, but by then it might be too late to solve their problems.

“If students are walking between classes they could pick up some tips and strategies (from the podcasts),” Slattery said.

This is the first time a service-oriented office at the University has used podcasting to reach students, and since the podcasts’ premiere last week, the site has received 600 visits, said Kristofer Layon, project manager for Web and interactive media academic administration.

Slattery said the University might offer podcasts this fall for incoming students about orientation and making the transition from high school to college.

Students who leave the University also will be able to listen to podcasts about life after graduation.

Joseph Pieper, a chemical engineering senior, said, “I don’t think (podcasting) will be popular; people won’t go to the University for advice.”

Pieper also works in the residence halls, and said students might be interested in podcasts with computer tips. Pieper said most of the students he works with have computer problems.

Food science sophomore Annah Goergen said she might use podcasting to get advice about studying and college life.

Anders Sonnenburg, an electrical engineering sophomore, said podcasting from the University is a good idea as long as people who don’t have iPods can listen to the podcasts too.

Sonnenburg also works for a recording studio and said he hopes to create his own podcasts in the near future focusing on politics and the wetlands of the northern suburbs.

At University of California, Berkeley, since spring 2005, podcasting has taken an active role inside and outside the classroom.

About 40 classes are “coursecast.” This is when a lecture is recorded and posted online to be downloaded onto an MP3 player, said Obadiah Greenberg, product manager of Internet site webcast.berkeley.edu.

“A lot of schools are using podcasting; I think the system we have to automatically capture and distribute the podcast is pretty unique,” he said.

The recorders in the classroom are set on timers, so the only thing the professor has to do is put on a microphone and show up on time, Greenberg said.

“This is meant to be a supplement to the classroom, not a substitute,” he said.

Some of the courses also have a webcast to accompany the coursecast. The Web site for coursecasting gets the most hits right around midterms and finals, Greenberg said.

Podcasting comes from different outlets across the Berkeley campus as well. Big events and speakers are featured in podcasts and places like the university’s business school offer podcasts about admissions.

On Saturday the university had an open house celebrating the launch of Berkeley’s partnership with iTunes, in which a specific section of iTunes will feature everything from Berkeley’s sports highlights to a campus tour.

“This will be a nice gateway for media,” Greenberg said.