Podcasting is a tool a CFI can use to increase instructional efficiency, build business, and potentially provide an additional revenue stream.
First a definition. Podcasting , in its simplest terms is prerecorded and subscribable audio programs that can de downloaded from the internet and played on an Ipod, MP3 player, or even on ones pc through windows media player or numerous other programs. The subscription process is perhaps one of the big advantages that podcast provides, as contrasted with just a link to an audio file. The result for the user, is that new podcasts get loaded to their player device as they are published.
A great example of a CFI using a podcast is at The Finer Points . Jason Miller uses podcasting as a marketing, and an instructional tool. Per his web site, in less than 6 months, he has over 20,000 subscribers, and is expecting to reach 50,000 fans by the end of 2006. And unlike radio, and other media, podcasting is customer pull, as only people that want to hear your message will sign up for it. In addition, in perusing his forum, he has listeners all over the world.
As an instructional tool, one could augment a ground school course with a review of the prior lesson via podcasting. Repetition, one of the laws of learning is often difficult in ground school courses, due to time constraints, and the individual needs of ones students. With a podcast of the material covered, a student that is having difficulty trying to comprehend the material has yet another avenue for review, perhaps even while they are exercising, or driving to work. In addition, topics to be covered in a flight lesson or ground school could be introduced via podcast as well. Now, this does not replace the pre-lesson briefing, but by having a student listen to a podcast prior to a lesson, they may have time to formulate some questions during the pre-lesson briefing.
In addition, ones skills as an orator will no doubt improve as you create podcasts. Listening to yourself while editing a podcast can be an incredibly humbling experience, and as a result, one will make improvements to ones technique.
As a side benefit, podcasts can be a marketing tool. Adverstising in the traditional sense is a major pig in a poke, and it can become incredibly expensive. Podcasting is extremely low cost, other than some nominal fees for hosting, and the time commitment needed to create them. Pocasting also allows you to control the frequency of exposure. One is free to podcast as frequently, or infrequently as ones desire, which is impossible in traditional advertising. It also is highly focused, being that podcasts are customer pull, vs company pushed. Thus out of one’s subscriber base, excluding user error, and people who unsubscribe after a single podcast, all subscribers are interested in what you have to say. Talk about highly targted marketing! In addition, ones podcast focus can be on education, and the marketing benefits come along for a free ride.
Podcasting can also be used as an additional revenue stream, although monetization in this arena is still up in the air. One can charge others for short sections of commercial content, or one could even create a premium podcast offering focused on a specific niche for a fee.