In the fall of 2012, Sarah Spangler, Megan McKittrick and I began introducing the use of SoundCloud (an audio based social media network) in instructor-student and student-student feedback in English studies classrooms. We were hoping to build on the research that’s already been done on audio feedback by focusing on a technology that might help to create dialogue about student writing instead of just static feedback.
In my own classroom, I used the technology to provide formative feedback (in addition to written feedback) on 2 major projects: a research essay and a visual argument. I also required students to complete 2 peer reviews of each of these projects: one written and one in SoundCloud. One of features of SoundCloud that was really exciting for us in our quest for creating dialogue was the ability to comment (in writing) on specific areas of a sound file.
In order to better utilize the technology, in the Spring of 2013, I implemented requiring each student to respond to one of the peer responses in SoundCloud by answering a specific question that the classmate asked or responding about a specific area the classmate suggested working on. Overall, students across all classes have had a pretty positive response to the use of this technology and it was a positive experience for me and my colleagues as well. However, this project has had its issues. I'll only go over the two that are most relevant our intent and purpose here.
First, the only thing that I changed about the second semester was requiring the additional comment within SoundCloud (I used the same instructional handouts and videos for the “how-to” of SoundCloud); however, I was inundated with frustrated emails from students who were having trouble using the technology at all stages. I’m baffled by this and am wondering if others have had similar experiences in using new technology in the classroom and what was done to solve the problem (I ended up doing a screen capture video that took the students from the class page in Blackboard all the way through).
Second, the dialogue did not happen the way I was hoping (even with the inclusion of the required response in the Spring semester). I was hoping that students would use the technology to continue the conversation about their work; however, they stopped when the requirements stopped. That is, in the Fall of 2012, they only provided the recording, and in the Spring of 2013 they had the recording and one text comment back to a classmate’s review. Despite this, the feedback given in SoundCloud, in my classes at least, tended to give the classmate more guidance and more feedback. They didn’t stop at just answering the questions as they often do in written feedback.
How else might this technology be used in the classroom? How might I improve my own use?