Landing : Athabascau University
  • Blogs
  • Rob Power
  • Playing with SoundCloud for an Interactive mLearning Classroom

Playing with SoundCloud for an Interactive mLearning Classroom

So... here's a couple of nice apps that I've just learned how to use as part of the Instructional Design for Mobile Learning MOOC (#idml13 on Twitter).  The first is called Textgram, and it is extremely easy to figure out.  Just download the app, type in some text, and pick the template you want.  The app will then create a "graffiti" graphic, like the one pictured below, which you can save to your mobile device or share online via Instagram, Twitter, or a blog like this one. 
The second app is called SoundCloud.  This provides you with easy access to cloud storage for audio files, such as music or recorded  voice.  You can create a voice recording from within the app itself, or upload an audio file from your computer or mobile device.  As you can see from the "widget" below, the app allows you to upload a graphic (such as an album cover, for music) to associate with your audio file.  It also provides you with options to publically share your audio file, or to keep them private.  If you choose the latter, you can easily retrieve the widget code to embed your audio file into a webpage, blog, or wiki.  I experimented with Textgram and SoundCloud to create the graphic (above) and the "welcome" message (below), which could be used to offer online, mobile, or blended learning students a unique greeting when they enroll in one of my classes!
I have actually added this Textgram and SoundCloud audio file to a hidden page on the wiki for a live course that I am teaching this term (which just began this week).  The page itself is linked to a QR code, which I have added to the course wiki homepage with a little graphic that says "Scan Me!"  You can see how I've done this by scanning the following QR code:
So, aside from a cute way to welcome students to your course, how could apps like Textgram and SoundCloud have a positive effect on the teaching and learning experience (and, for that matter, student achievent)?  Well, for one, they provide new creative outlets for learners as part of the learning process.  When learners create something to convey a message about something they are learning, they are much more likely to actually learn more about that topic themselves! (The whole idea of learning by teaching!)  Another positive--allowing students to create audio files is a great way to practice communications skills without the performance anxiety that comes from presenting before a large group (such as their classmates).  I've recently seen an example of project in the United Arab Emirates that uses mobile devices (iPads) to manipulate the actions, speech, and environments of cartoon avatars (Nicoll & Hopkyns, 2013).  The idea is for English Second Language learners to practice their conversational skills by recording what they want their avatars to say, and then manipulating their "puppets" actions and environments to match the conversations.  The fun of the activity takes a bit of the edge off of the performance anxiety!
That example in mind, and armed with tools I've discovered in #idml13, I've decided to modify one of the major assignments in another course that I'm teaching this term (a different course than the one linked to the QR code above).  The course is an introduction to IT customer service and help desk applications.  The original assignment had students pair up to role play a scenario where one student is a help desk agent, and the other an angry customer who has called in.  The students were to perform the role play in front of the class, and this would be followed by a whole group discussion of the scenario and how the situation was handled.  My integration of mobile learning -- instead of a live performance I'm going to have students use SoundCloud and their mobile devices to record the exchanges between the help desk agent and the angry customer.  I'll then give the groups the option of creating either a Textgram to introduce the exchange, or a photo collage (see my earlier post on that topic) that highlights the steps to effectively handling such calls.  Once those two products are ready, I'll get the groups to post their graphics and embed their SoundCloud widgets to the course wiki.  We'll view (and listen to) all of the groups' projects as a whole class, and use that as a launching point for discussions of how to handle irate callers and resolve conflicts in such situations. 
So how is this better than getting the pairs of students to put on a live role play performance? 
  1. First, students get a chance to think more deeply about what they are going to do for their presentation before the time to role play arrives.
  2. Second, the pairs will inevitably be dissatisfied with their initial audio recordings, and will likely re-record them several times before they are happy.  This means extra "live" practice! 
  3. Third, requiring students to create an accompanying graphic will force them to reflect upon their scenario, and the concepts that they have been studying in the course, in order to come up with something meaningful. 
  4. Fourth, posting the SoundCloud widgets and graphics to the course wiki will create lasting, reusable learning artefacts.  Classmates (including any who are absent on the "role play" day) will get a chance to access and learn from the performances. 
  5. And, fifth, because the artefacts are posted to a wiki, everyone in the class will have the ability to reflect and then participate in commentary / discussion of the performances (as opposed to the handful of extroverts who normally dominate the precious few minutes of open discussion time in a live classroom).
Nicoll, T., & Hopkyns, S. (2013, April). A new PPP for vocabulary building.  Poster presentation at the Mobile Learning: Gulf Perspectives Research Symposium, April 25, 2013, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
SoundCloud(online version)
You can also find the SoundCloud app from the Apple and Android app stores
Available through both the Apple and Android app stores 

By: Robert Power
Posted: May 5, 2013, 6:01 am


These comments are moderated. Your comment will not be visible unless accepted by the content owner.

Only simple HTML formatting is allowed and any hyperlinks will be stripped away. If you need to include a URL then please simply type it so that users can copy and paste it if needed.