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Young talent network "Uni Erfurt Podcasters" founded

Podcasts, i.e. audio (or video) files that can be subscribed to, have been on the rise in all genres and industries. Science and humanities have also discovered the communication medium for their purposes and are increasingly using it for knowledge transfer. Whether student projects, scientific output from the individual departments or classic science communication - the podcast efforts at the University of Erfurt are diverse. In order to bundle these, Marcus Berger from the Faculty of Education, together with his colleagues Madeleine Müller, Jana Asberger and Daniel Kühne, founded the young talent network "Uni Erfurt Podcasters". A conversation with him and Eric Schümann from the University Computing and Media Centre about the goals and initial successes of the network:

Mr Berger, you have been podcasting for several years, privately and also for the Learning Workshop of the Faculty of Education at the University of Erfurt. What do you like about podcasting?
I came into contact with podcasting a few years ago rather by chance and thus gained my first private experience. Through my work in the University Learning Workshop and its innovation-promoting approach, I was able to further deepen my knowledge of this through the "Workshop Talks". In the Learning Workshop, we now see this medium as a possibility for modern, digital science communication paired with the approach of open educational resources. I think podcasting is a wonderful way to have valuable conversations about, for example, scientific content, to put information and knowledge into context by simply asking questions, to share this knowledge and to make it available to interested parties as a digital product in a comparatively barrier-free way.

What do you think a good podcaster needs?
In my experience, you don't need that much. Of course, you should be interested in the respective content, communicative, willing to learn and a bit tech-savvy. But it's all doable, and with the "Uni Erfurt Podcasters" network you can find colleagues who already have experience or are just starting out.

This means that other people at the University of Erfurt have also discovered podcasts as a communication channel for themselves. Why is it important to you to bring these activities together in a network?
We have noticed that there are efforts in this area in some places, but that this is relatively uncoordinated in relation to others. This leads to some struggling with challenges for which others have already developed solutions. This is where the network comes in: Existing and future stakeholders at the University of Erfurt are linked together to enable an exchange of experience and knowledge across faculties and disciplines. It is about sharing knowledge, learning from and with each other and supporting each other.

What should the network be able to do and what should it explicitly not be able to do?
The overall objective is to make the podcast medium more accessible and usable for educational purposes at the University of Erfurt, as well as to generate an empirical data base for investigating the effectiveness of podcasts as an educational medium in the future. To achieve this, the network offers the necessary basis for exchange. Furthermore, internal advanced training in higher education didactics for staff members is planned. But it is also about generating a certain visibility, not least in order to expand the university's digital profile and to advance digital (academic) communication at the university. However, we do not see ourselves as service providers for the implementation of individual projects.

What is your task as spokesperson for the network?
Together with the other co-founders Madeleine Müller, Jana Asperger and Daniel Kühne, it is my job to coordinate this project, to be the contact person and to moderate the monthly meetings.

The network is integrated into the university's internal research structure. Does that mean that only academic podcast projects are welcome here?
Podcasts are of course very suitable for communicating our research results and for extending our teaching. But in addition to the academic sector, I would welcome, for example, efforts by various administrative and service institutions to offer the newsletter medium a more accessible counterpart and/or to be able to tap into other target groups. In my view, there is great potential here for a modern and digitised university.

How can you participate, how can interested people join?
A simple email to me is enough to be added to the distribution list and receive an invitation to the monthly community meeting. So far, this has taken place online via Webex.

The first Webex meetings have already taken place. What was the most urgent question?
We were somewhat surprised to find that many different groups of actors actually expressed their interest in the first meeting. The greatest need was in the direction of technical integration. Thankfully, the computer centre provided us with competent support here.

Mr Schümann, that's where you come in. Together with the networkers, you looked for - and found - a university-wide technical solution for hosting podcasts created at the University of Erfurt. What exactly does this look like?
I'm very happy that our university communication is so well networked. As a result, we very quickly found a nice podcast solution from the University of Greifswald, which was also immediately made available to us by the developer. The solution is also technically quite simple. It consists of an area where authorised users can upload mp3 files and an area that processes these files together with meta information into an RSS feed. It is precisely such an RSS feed that Spotify, iTunes and Amazon Music expect in order to play the podcasts.

What does it offer users and what advantages does it have over other hosting systems, such as Podigee or Anchor.fm?
The first advantage is that we manage it ourselves. This makes us much more flexible. It is also data protection compliant and the university retains the rights to the podcast. It's also much cheaper. But there is also a disadvantage: it's not quite as "fancy" to administer as a commercial provider.

When can the system be used?
Technically, the system can be used immediately. But the most important thing is still missing: the great podcasts of the individual sections still have to be entered.

The quick implementation on your part shows that it was also a matter of concern to you to advance the topic. Why?
There was simply a great need from many areas, and we wanted to help as quickly and easily as possible. We succeeded in doing that. I also produced podcasts myself during my student days and know how much fun it is.

At the beginning of their project, many people will not have the technical knowledge to operate the system. How are they supported in this respect?
Thanks to the simple system behind it, it is not that complicated to understand. For the implementation, a joint workshop is planned to go through the functions once. It is important that everyone involved understands the basic requirements for a podcast episode. Marcus Berger will then be available to answer questions about podcasting itself.