Summary of Project Option in Lieu of Thesis
Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Master of Arts
MUSEUMS AND THE POD-PEOPLE: A GUIDE TO PREPARING YOUR MUSEUM FOR
Chair: Melissa Hyde
This project serves as an introduction to podcasting for museums who are not yet aware
of the practice or are in the process of developing their own podcasting program. As a means of
educating those museums to the benefits of podcasting, this project features a manual of best
practices and tips necessary to generate the most effective, highest quality podcasts within an
affordable budget. In addition to reviews of software and recording equipment, this project
includes a survey of the prevalence of podcasting in American Association of Museums
accredited institutions throughout Florida.
Since its inception in 2001, podcasting has revolutionized the way museums produce and
distribute educational audio programming. Conceived through a melding of the XML computer
programming language and a web feed format known as RSS, designed to publish frequently
updated Internet content, podcasting brings millions of subscribers the daily audio and video
content they have come to expect from life in the digital age. Podcasts have enabled countless
museum programs to reach not only a local visitor base, but a vast array of "audio-visitors" who
may never set foot inside the museum. It is through creative, diverse podcasts that these audio-
visitors are able to enjoy the same quality programming as if they were on-site.
As of early 2007, a survey of Internet and multimedia audiences found that nearly 30% of
Americans aged 12 and older own either an iPod or other brand of portable media player. An
estimated 37% of the American population is familiar with the concept of podcasting, with 13%
indicating that they have previously listened to podcast programs. Museums that properly
leverage the benefits of podcasting not only gain access to a rapidly expanding audience, they
support and encourage "free-choice learning," a form of visitor engagement that serves as a
prime focus of museum educational programs.
While the production of museum podcasts can be an extremely customizable exercise,
there is a formulaic process to generating consistent, high quality podcasts. In following a
manual of best practices, museums of all sizes and disciplines can overcome a lack of staff
support or a lack of funding to ensure the production of podcasts that not only engage museum
audiences but ensure the cultivation of repeat audio-visitors.