November 26, 2014
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SoundCloud is “essentially the YouTube of audio—more than 12 hours of music and audio are uploaded to SoundCloud every minute” (Olivarez-Giles, 2014). Yet this online platform also allows users to record, share, and explore the SoundCloud library. Founded in 2007, the initial SoundCloud audience was filled with musicians, but now the SoundCloud community has expanded to include educators and scientists.
I first learned about SoundCloud at a podcasting workshop I attended at ScienceOnline Oceans in 2013 (see my description of the workshop). At the workshop, the facilitators shared with us approaches and strategies to create 60-second podcasts as a tool to disseminate our own recent publications to a broader audience. SoundCloud was suggested as the online home of our audio files for ease of streaming, sharing and embedding.
Further exploration of SoundCloud shows that there are several SoundCloud accounts with an Earth science focus. As of 2013, the Nature Publishing Group has their weekly Nature podcasts on SoundCloud, so that “listeners can interact with what they are hearing better than ever before – you can comment at a specific point in the track to add your thoughts to the discussion, share the podcast with your friends and followers, and see which our most popular episodes are” (nature.com Communities Team). Other interesting SoundCloud accounts include Science Friday, Living On Earth, University of California Science Today, Guardian Science Weekly, KQED Science, and People Behind the Science. One SoundCloud account I’m sure you will spend much time exploring is the one by NASA with their collection of space sounds!
— AsapSCIENCE (@AsapSCIENCE) October 24, 2014
In my current role as President of the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association (PAESTA), I decided to start a weekly president’s podcast to help connect the membership community across Pennsylvania and beyond. Each podcast is uploaded in the PAESTA SoundCloud account, linked in our monthly eNewsletter and social media channels, and embedded on the PAESTA website. I record the files in GarageBand, and the ability to quickly upload and embed the file makes the process very simple.
What might be the educational uses of SoundCloud? Certainly, classroom and campus lectures can be captured and shared through the SoundCloud website. SoundCloud can be utilized for digital storytelling, course projects to increase Earth science literacy and familiarity with current events, collaborative commenting and feedback, and any additional podcasting projects. It seems that the opportunity to provide comments that are timed in the audio files, as well as general comments on the audio file page, are features that set SoundCloud apart from other audio hosting websites. SoundCloud files can be listened to via a mobile device and through the free SoundCloud app (for iPhone/iPad and Android). Just note that there is a time limit (currently, 3 hours of upload time) for a free SoundCloud account.
[NOTE: Tracks in SoundCloud (not accounts) can be made private and set for private sharing. However, prior to having students upload their own course-generated audio files to and/or comment in SoundCloud, please see my post Before you set a hashtag for your course or have students blog, think FERPA.]
Additional sources for exploration
nature.com Communities Team. (2013, July 4). Nature Publishing Group joins SoundCloud. Of Schemes and Memes blog. (Article online)
Olivarez-Giles, N. (2014, June 26). SoundCloud iPhone app revamp caters to listeners, not uploaders. The Wall Street Journal – Personal Tech News. (Article online)
Teachers’ Guide to the Use of SoundCloud in Class. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning [website]. (Article online)