Common Sense Review
Updated July 2013

SoundCloud

Audio file sharing on the Web may be useful; safety and privacy issues
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Common Sense Rating 2
Pros
A great resource for students already engaged in audio creation, and for sharing audio projects or assessments.
Cons
Not the best creation tool -- better for sharing; lots of safety and privacy issues for kids.
Bottom Line
Teachers looking to have students share digital audio creations may find SoundCloud very useful, but not all content on the site is school-appropriate.
Jeff Knutson
Common Sense Reviewer
Senior Manager, Education Content
Common Sense Rating 2
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Teens into audio creation will love exploring the vast selection of tracks, as well as sharing their own work. However, teens who only want to listen may like Pandora or Spotify more.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

Many kids and teens will find the site useful as a way to share and present audio projects, or to search for new ideas. However, while it's a great sharing tool, SoundCloud isn't the best option for audio creation.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

The site is easy to navigate, and file uploads are simple; however, some privacy settings aren't easy to manage. Most help topics are geared toward consumers and may or may not be helpful for kids.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

While music teachers will be most apt to use SoundCloud, content-area teachers may find some use for it as well, especially when assigning audio-based projects. Students may find SoundCloud a simple way to save and share larger audio projects with teachers or classmates. Also, teachers of English-language learners may find SoundCloud useful for helping students speak and listen to themselves as part of pronunciation and reading fluency practice. While SoundCloud is not designed specifically for learning, teachers may find other creative uses for saving and sharing audio files in the cloud.

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What's It Like?

SoundCloud is a listening and sharing platform for uploading streamable audio files to the Web -- like the YouTube of audio. And as with YouTube, content varies greatly. From amateur to professional, users include musicians of every genre, comedians, spoken-word artists, podcasters, voice-over artists, teachers, and newscasters, among many others.

All content is user-created, so it's important for teachers to keep an eye on student use. Also, give consideration to what students may decide to upload. Some students may not want to join (or their parents might not want them to), given the social-media integration and how much user information the site shares with third parties.

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Is It Good For Learning?

SoundCloud can work as both a classroom tool and as a creative outlet for teens, although it isn't perfect for either purpose. Less creation tool and more sharing platform, SoundCloud may work well for some classroom purposes, like uploading and sharing podcasts. However, most teachers will find SoundCloud lacking in a few important areas. First and foremost, SoundCloud would work better in the classroom with greater privacy controls and the ability for teachers to create closed networks. Also, a recording platform with some basic editing tools might appeal to teachers and students who don't want to navigate between a separate audio-creation app (like GarageBand) and SoundCloud's sharing platform.

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See how teachers are using SoundCloud

Lesson Plans