Merced College students use podcasts to get word out

tmiller@mercedsunstar.comMarch 19, 2014 

A group of students at Merced College are part of a new project to expand the school’s communications through podcasting.

The MC Pod is made up of five students and a professor who put out about two episodes a week, which cover the latest information on school majors, classes or other goings-on around the Merced and Los Banos campuses.

A podcast is digitally recorded audio that smartphone, tablet, computer or digital music users can download and listen to on demand. The students involved in the project said it can be a good resource for people on campus or those looking to enroll.

Angelina Koncewicz, 47, an administrative office management major, said the podcasts are a great way to get out information about the campus. “The young students coming up with the technology that they grew up with, I think this is just (easy) for them.”

Koncewicz, who is from Atwater, is also working toward a social media certificate from Merced College.

The MC Pod project’s aim is to be a source of information about campus events and programs, and to connect the college and the community.

The project is approaching its 15th episode and has covered a new kinesiology degree available at the Los Banos campus, which health services are available to students and an overview of athletics, to name a few.

Podcasts are more immediate than course catalogs, which are printed once a year. “It presents information close to real time,” Ron Pirtle of Atwater said. “This is information that’s occurring now.”

The 57-year-old is volunteering with the project as a continuing education student. He said the team shoots for the episodes to be around five minutes long. As volunteers, the students get no grades or paychecks for their time.

Merced College offered a half-unit class on podcasting for the first time during the fall of 2013. The class grew into the project after the Merced College President’s Circle granted MC Pod $1,000 to buy equipment such as microphones, a digital recorder, an Apple iPad and other items.

Though podcasting may seem easy to do – anyone with a smartphone can make digital recordings – the students have had to develop interviewing and editing skills.

Business professor Toni Reintke serves as the moderator for the podcasts, giving them a last look before they are uploaded. She is a certified social media strategist and trainer through the National Institute for Social Media in Minnesota.

She also developed the social media certification that several of the volunteers seek.

Reintke said social media is an important skill in modern industry. It will continue to change the way people communicate, she said, and will continue to be a part of daily life. “It’s changed society. It’s changed countries. It’s changed the way we do business,” Reintke said. “It’s changed the way we communicate.”

Christine Jargick, a 44-year-old small-business entrepreneurship major, said the more she learns about social media the more she sees how it works itself into most industries. The Los Banos resident said she expects the demand for podcasts to grow.

Another student who is involved in the project, Reginald Nelson of Merced, said he’s picking up life skills that become an “added value” when he goes looking for a job. The 44-year-old mechanical drafting major also said he would like to see the podcasting project grow to include the greater Merced community.

“(We’ve) met the dreams and goals we wanted right now,” he said. “Let’s say five years from now, let’s take it off the campus.”

The podcasts are online at www.mcpod.podbean.com or on Apple’s iTunes. A link is also on Merced College’s website, www.mccd.edu.

Another campus organization using new media is the Merced College Foundation, which launched www.mercedcollegefoundation.org. The website offers news and information on the tax-exempt educational corporation dedicated to garnering donations for the school.

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or tmiller@mercedsunstar.com.

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