Many of us already recognize the tremendous value that can be found online in the form of audio (and even video) shiurim. These shiurim have rapidly taken the place of the Torah Tapes of our youth and continue to offer thirsty students of Torah the opportunity to enjoy a quality learning experience no matter where they find themselves, anywhere from Brooklyn to Barbados and everywhere in between.
Audio shiurim can be found in a number of places online, two of the best repositories of consistently updated shiurim can be found at YU Torah and OU Radio. These are the two site we will focus on for today’s Mobile How To.
As mentioned above, most of us are aware of the amazing value of online shiuirm, but there is an incredible feature that most of us are probably missing out on: Podcasting. Podcasting is basically just an RSS Feed consisting of MP3 files instead of articles, but the magic of Podcasting is revealed when its features are married with those of today’s always-connected smartphones; with their powers combined they allow the end-user to stream audio shiurim from just about anywhere, without having to download or check for updates. Once you find a class, topic of teacher you like you can use Podcasting just as you would TiVo (chas ve’shalom) to capture new classes automatically and view or listen at your convenience, and using your smartphone (we will focus on Android in this article) you can stream, not download and play, those shiurim from anywhere, whenever the mood strikes or you have a free block of time…think: on your daily commute, waiting in line, waiting for the bus, while at the mechanic…anywhere, anytime.
“How can I set up this magical TiVo for shiurim?” you ask? In about 3 steps and 5 minutes you will be up and running and listening to shiurim wherever and whenever.
Things you’ll need:
- Android Smartphone (any smart phone will do, but we will be using Android for this How To)
- Google Account (If you don’t already have one: https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount)
Step 1 – Set Up Google Listen:
Open the Android Market and search for Listen, visit http://listen.googlelabs.com or scan the QR Code to the right with your Android phone to download Google Listen.
Once you have downloaded and set-up Google Listen be sure that it is linked to your Google Account and proceed to Step 2.
Step 2 – Set Up Google Reader:
Open your browser on your computer and goto http://www.google.com/reader. When you set-up Google Listen and link it to your Google Account it will automatically create a new folder in Google Reader called “Listen Subscriptions”; this is where you will add the Podcasts you want to subscribe to.
Goto to your Reader settings page (by clicking the gear in the upper right-hand corner and clicking “Reader Settings”) and click over to the “Goodies” tab. Now, scroll to the bottom of this page and follow the instructions for adding the “Subscribe” bookmarklet to your browser.
Step 3a – Find Your Shiurim and RSS Feed:
For YU Torah: First, find the topic, speaker or series you want to subscribe to, next click-through to the actual shiur page and you will see a line of icons (RSS, Podcast, Apple logo, envelope), roll over them and click “Podcast”, next select the number of shiurim you want displayed at a time and click “Go”. A new window should now be open with the XML code of the RSS feed of your series of shiurim. Proceed to Step 3b.
Step 3b – Subscribe and Enjoy!
All you need to do now is click on the bookmarklet you created in Step 2 and subscribe to this page. Once you are subscribed click “Feed Settings” and move the subscription to the “Listen Subscriptions” folder, now just fire up your Android phone, open the Listen app and you can stream all your subscribed shiurim, which will automatically update as new content is added!
Whether you use this tool for professional development, personal learning, to stay in touch with your students or to keep up to date on a class when you can’t be there, podcasting is an amazing tool that will help us all stay a little closer to Torah learning no matter where we find ourselves…happy streaming!