I was using SoundCloud for another project exploring music in elearning and am starting to realize how relevant it could be for learning around audio or music. I would love to hear if anyone is using SoundCloud for learning, whether formal or informal, as I am just brainstorming a few different uses in this post.

Use Case 1: embedded reflections on music

The learning activity would be an audio track of the learner’s choice. The learner either embeds a long-form reflection within the track itself using SoundCloud’s comments feature, or two students have an extended dialogue in the track itself using the same comments. The assembled comments and track are them embedded in whatever centralized reflective space the student has running (blog). An ongoing audio dialogue that can be used for assessment.

The comments can be synced to Facebook thus extending the learning domain and syncing learning across a few different social spaces.

Use Case 2: Interactive Podcasts

Upload a podcast or an oral essay to SoundCloud and then the fellow participants critique it, add comments, edit, or even suggest other resources. An ongoing, transparent peer review process. It takes the same review mechanisms for print and applies them to audio, which also serves to thwart a heightened reverence for all things textual. An important factor to consider  in multimodal learning constructs and spaces.

I imagine this approach would be best served in the initial brainstorming stages where each student would post a 1-2 minute synopsis of their work to date and all the other learners can critique that. It would provide evidence of participation (comments) and this feedback could be again embedded on the learner’s blog for reflection and inclusion.

I also imagine (just guessing here) that audio feedback/critique on audio ideas (synopsis of potential essays) would feel less threatening than peer textual feedback of the same nature. Less authoritative, stark, menacing. Just a hunch.

Use Case 3: Collaborative Playlists and Discussion Groups

The Groups feature on SoundCloud allows students to create spaces for discussion, collaboration, and even to collaborate on playlists or audio tracks to create a narrative. The whole essay (whether it be text, audio, or some multimodal combination) could be constructed, discussed, reviewed, exported, embedded and even synced with Facebook, WordPress or what have you without ever having to leave Soundcloud. A nice feature.

Further, students can record direct from their laptop, mobile, or any technology they might have which allows for audio messages, notes, and some relatively sophisticated interaction. Who wouldn’t want a playlist on music to study by? Further, it allows for participation without regards to location. If the students have a phone or a tablet, they will be able to participate on vacation, at home, on the bus, anywhere.

Use Case 4: DropBox

The learning facilitator/teacher/lead student could have a centralized website for the course or project. This could and probably should be a blog. The DropBox is embedded on the site, students can drag and drop audio tracks for the project into the DropBox and then those tracks are automatically loaded into SoundCloud and even into individual Groups. An easy way to bring sources into a project with as few barriers as possible.

This process could be cyclical in that students drop something into the DropBox (from the blog), that material is loaded into SoundCloud, then the widget on the site displays the new material. This could even trigger a Facebook alert (or a Facebook page alert) to let the students know to go take a look. I just find Soundcloud has obviously put some thought into using social media simply and efficiently. It all syncs and if used in concert, these social services provide quite a net of activity and alerts.

I am curious to learn if anyone else is using Soundcloud for learning.

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

3 thoughts on “Soundcloud for learning: audio critiques, podcasts, DropBox and collaborative playlists”
  1. Great tool, thanks for sharing it, Michael.

    I can think of a use for my students immediately, as they are creating a video documentary on the American Revolution, and are doing numerous audio-pickups and voice-overs. The sharing feature here makes collaborating a cinch for them.



    1. Great to hear, Mike. I am not sure Soundcloud was designed for learning in mind, but it sure is useful that way. I would love to experiment more with it in some applied situations (ie, classroom or online learning scenarios) as it is the best tool I have seen for working with audio. Could see this being used at a district level as well for extra-curricular activities (everyone shares 1 minute of what X or Y means to them or how A or B could be used differently to improve their education. Good stuff. I like its use for History as well as you can bring in some audio work from the last 100 years (authors reading their own work or famous speeches, Churchill, Roosevelt, et al) and have the students comment on the references and the diction.

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