I first became aware of soundcloud.com when my son started posting music that he’d composed on the site. An email popped up one day telling me that my son was following me! I’d quite forgotten ever setting up an account! I was suddenly introduced to a whole world where musicians, and aspiring musicians were posting their music, commenting and collaborating, being mentored by more experienced users and generally engaging in the most amazing learning experiences. Wow! And I thought all he did was play computer games all day!
I had originally signed up for soundcloud with the idea of posting podcasts of learning material, but had never got round to it. Probably a good thing too. Who’d want to listen to my voice droning on about Shakespeare’s use of the pentameter? Not that there aren’t some uses for that sort of thing, but compared with the collaborative learning potential I saw in what my budding 16 year old musician was up to, teacher podcasts are really small beer!
Would it not be the perfect platform for storytelling, or creative radio broadcasts, asynchronous debates, poetry slams or project feedbacks? The English teacher in me sees thousands of possibilities, but the whole point behind what what was so valuable in the soundcloud community I witnessed through my son’s eyes, is that it is not regulated or imposed. I very much suspect that any attempt by a teacher to recreate this ethos would instantly kill it! In many ways this is the dilemma of the classroom. And yet technology offers the promise of providing ways in which many of the barriers presented by structure can be broken down. The challenge is to realise this promise.
As an experiment in setting up a soundcloud community I have challenged my students to a poetry slam on soundcloud.