Cross-posted from the “Playing with Media” blog.

Soundcloud is an excellent website and smart phone application offering the ability to not only record and share “no edit” audio recordings (similar to AudioBoo, Cinch, and iPadio) but also add “timed” comments. A timed comment is linked to a specific minute and second mark in a sound recording. I interviewed my 13 year old, 8th grade son tonight about his recent English project, “Living in Oak Ridge.” He created a Glogster site for the project with photos he’d obtained from his grandmother (my mom) who lived in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, during World War II. I used the free iOS application for Soundcloud to record this ten minute interview, using my iPhone and an iRig microphone. If you play the embedded Soundcloud audio recording below, notice how comments appear as the audio file plays back in your web browser. I LOVE this feature! As far as I know, this is unique to Soundcloud at this point.

Discussing Oak Ridge Glogster Project at Oklahoma City, OK by wfryer

Comments to a Soundcloud recording can be added using the iOS application, but those comments are not “timed.” To add a timed comment, you need to use your web browser. After logging in with an account to Soundcloud, click in the blue space below the audio “waveform” to add a comment.

Add a timed comment in SoundCloud

Mouse over a comment and click REMOVE (if you are the owner of a Soundcloud recording) to delete unwanted comments.

Removing a Soundcloud comment

It’s possible to include hyperlinks in timed comments as well as regular text. This is a great way to provide additional information as well as website suggestions relating to a recorded audio file. Links are clickable in the “hovering text boxes” which appear over the audio waveform as the recording plays in your browser, and also clickable below the sound recording. People can also reply to specific comments. Those appear as Twitter-style “@ reply” messages, however, rather than threaded / hierarchical comments. Soundcloud does not appear to currently support comment moderation, or to offer an education-specific version of its product.

Examples of "timed" comments in a Soundcloud recording online

The Soundcloud iOS app doesn’t appear to currently show comments. Users can add “untimed” comments to a sound recording, but not view or listen to any comments– just the original recording. The app is a great tool for creating “no edit” audio recordings, however, and I highly recommend it. SoundCloud supports “the ethic of minimal clicks” for student and teacher media projection, which I discuss in my eBook, “Playing with Media: simple ideas for powerful sharing.” Soundcloud provides users with 120 minutes worth of free audio hosting, and older files can be deleted to make space for new ones if desired. Premium Soundcloud accounts offer more features, including the ability to download each track more than 100 times. This complete Soundcloud account feature overview shows what can be added if you’re willing to pay money for the service. Other platforms like AudioBoo, Cinch, and iPadio provide free, unlimited accounts, but don’t currently offer the “timed commenting” feature of Soundcloud. Soundcloud recordings are not limited in duration for individual episodes, either, as recordings are on AudioBoo. (AudioBoo’s limit is 5 minutes each.)

Check out additional audio sites and resources on playingwithmedia.com/pages/audio. I’ll continue to keep that site updated in the weeks and months ahead. Thanks to Sheldon Bradshaw for sharing Soundcloud during our “digital storytelling” cohort sessions at the Learning 2.011 conference in Shanghai last week!

Check out examples of student audio projects on SHARE: Playing with Media. Remember you still have a couple of weeks to contribute / share your own example of a student media project (audio or text / image / video) on the site and possibly win an iRig microphone!

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