Podcasts as a medium and source of information can have benefits and drawbacks. When looking at use in the classroom you have to be aware of how vast the world of podcasting is, they can be made by anyone and are usually free. As a result there are podcasts covering every subject for a range of ages.
The pros of podcasting
Free to listen: While some podcasts will have a pay wall over their older episodes, most are entirely free. Unlike televisions shows if you hear of a podcast you can search it easily and expect to access all episodes of it.
Topics: There are podcasts covering any topic. If you have an interest or passion and want to listen to a show covering it podcasting is a good place to look. You can also discover interests you never would have considered. I learned how to play dungeons and dragons through listening to podcasts.
Age Range: A simple google search will show lists of podcasts for children to adults. With children I would suggest listening to them and using your own judgement. There are some which are clearly for small children and others aimed at middle years.
Audio: Podcasts can be listened to while doing other things, you can download them to your device and listen anywhere. I often listen while traveling, walking, cleaning, or painting.
Ads: While it may be a drawback that there are ads, especially in children’s podcasts, they are usually separate from the rest of the content. The style for ads in podcasts is a script read by the host in the style of old radio shows. If you were playing a podcast with children and wanted to skip the ads it would not be difficult as they are usually distinct from the show.
The cons of podcasting
Easy to find: If you introduce podcasts to children be aware that they are very easy to access. While some podcasts are marked as explicit it doesn’t mean that all those without an explicit marker are appropriate for children. There should be an adult helping children to make the decision about what to listen to.
Anyone can create: Podcasting does take some time and money investment to be a regular creator. Similar to YouTube it can take investment but can also host anyone who wants to create. This means that not all podcasts are run by experts in the topic, they may be people with a passion or hobby. I often listen to a history podcast which is well researched but not written by historians. I would check their listed sources and not list the podcast as a reliable source if I want to source the information.
Not always accessible: Since podcasting is purely audio it is not accessible. There have been websites which transcribe episodes and some podcasts will have transcriptions but it is not always reliable. I have been unable to find the website which used to host transcriptions.