Kathy Shields says podcasting is easy — so simple, in fact, that her kindergartners do it.
Shields joined about 200 people over the weekend for "PodCamp," a conference for anyone interested in broadcasting video or audio programs over the Internet.
Podcasts are typically sound files that can be played on personal computers, TiVo Inc.'s digital recorders and music players such as Apple Inc.'s iPod. Many are regularly scheduled and automatically delivered, and more recently some have incorporated video.
"With podcasting ... it's 'Who?' and not 'How many?'" said Josh Hallett, who presented a podcasting session. "You can be a very successful podcaster if only four people are listening to it and if you change someone's life."
Shields introduced podcasting last year to her elementary school classes outside Atlanta. Podcasts, she said, allow parents to watch or listen to their child's experiences with Field Day or Thanksgiving. Families with overseas relatives can also easily share them.
"This reaches everyone," Shields said.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project said in November that 12 percent of Internet users have downloaded a podcast, an increase from 7 percent earlier last year.
Preparing podcasts for the Internet can be inexpensive — $50 for a microphone and there's free software on the Internet to edit and produce them, said Stephen Eley, who has a science fiction podcast called "Escape Pod."
The first PodCamp started in Boston in September, and since then other sessions have been held in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Berlin. About half of the Atlanta participants were new to podcasting.