SoundCloud – Unexpected Educational Technology
TECHNOLOGY! In the world of music education, this word elicits the full range of emotions from love and excitement to fear and dread. This is understandable as programs geared specifically towards music education have not always been the most user-friendly. As software and hardware continue to develop, the ability to adapt these tools to the classroom becomes easier. Website building and management has become a drag-n-drop operation, and sharing multimedia is as simple as sending an email. Yet there is still a ways to go. The biggest area of growth in the arena of music technology comes from creatively adapting technology that was never intended for education.
Enter SoundCloud. This website will change the way you, and your students, listen to music.
SoundCloud is Social Networking through music and an amazing platform for sharing original compositions. It is similar to Twitter in that users can “follow” people posting music and comments. But SoundCloud has developed one feature that is unique to its site: they call it “timed comments.” I call it “overdue.” This feature sets SoundCloud apart from all other web-based audio/visual sites and, consequently, is the very thing that adapts this program for educational use.
The Quick Overview
SoundCloud’s interface is extremely user friendly. The website walks you through the initial steps of creating an account, uploading files, and titling them appropriately. Once a file is uploaded, the sharing options allow the track to be restricted from public viewing. This feature is crucial to the legalities of educational applications specifically dealing with copyright law. As a rule of thumb, anything used for educational purposes through SoundCloud that may have copyrights should be marked as “private.” However, even if a track is labeled “private,” it can still be shared with certain people of your choosing. This can be done by emailing that track’s “secret link,” or allowing certain Usernames visibility to this track on the SoundCloud site. Once the track has been saved with these preferences, those with access to the track can begin to comment. These comments can be utilized in several ways, all of which will greatly enhance your teaching.
To post a time-stamped comment, move your cursor over the blue bar located beneath the waveform. A little bubble appears and tells you where you are within the track. Find the spot where you would like to post a comment, click, and a textbox appears. Enter your text, click the “post” button, and your post is now linked to that specific moment within the track and is viewable by all who play it. The posts are visible for about 4 seconds which allows posts to be timed appropriately. The textbox feature allows others to reply to someone else’s comment, essentially creating a dialogue or conversation regarding any/all things music. As a bonus, the text box automatically converts typed web addresses into hyperlinks.
In the upcoming weeks, I’ll outline the different ways you can impliment SoundCloud and generate instant results. Stay tuned!