Call me an auditory learner, I guess, since I seem to be drawn to tools like VoiceThread, Audioboo and now SoundCloud. As online podcasting tools become more popular, more user-friendly and more connected, it becomes more of a challenge for catechists to integrate them into their faith formation settings. SoundCloud is a great example of a podcasting tool that is so easy to use, you can figure it out intuitively and with very little effort. What is SoundCloud? It’s a tool to hear and share the world’s sounds. SoundCloud allows users to upload original audio files, such as recordings of voice or music made on their mobile devices, and easily compile and share them on social media. SoundCloud even has features for educators and recorded lectures from Harvard, Yale and BBC Radio. Teachers can use SoundCloud in the classroom to record student reports (think radio broadcast on a topic researched and presented, recorded and shared with others in the school community) or they can even record their own lectures to share with students who were absent!
To get started with SoundCloud, just open a free account from your computer. I recommend you also install the mobile app on your iPad, iPhone, or Android device. Because this is a cloud-based tool, your sounds will be accessible from both your computer and your mobile device. If you make a recording with your mobile device, you have the option of trimming it, naming it, and associating a digital image with it before you save it. Once a sound is saved, you can push it to Facebook Twitter, Foursquare or post it on Blogger or WordPress. The SoundCloud website has more information, tutorials, feature guides, information for educators, and much more.
Because sounds are not (usually) visual, it is interesting how SoundCloud displays its audio podcasts. Not only do you see an attractive waveform, you also can see timed comments (look for the little profile pictures along the bottom of the waveform) that indicate someone has made a comment on your sound! This is great feedback for the creator of the sound and makes an attractive visual element, as well.
Just about anything that can be used for educational purposes can be adapted for catechetical and ministerial purposes, IMHO. Here is a great example of how SoundCloud is already being used in ministry. I simply put the word “Catholic” into the SoundCloud search box and found a series of podcasts from a 2013 Catholic Student Spring Leadership Day.
And here is a podcast of my pastor’s homily from Sunday, March 3, 2013. We were celebrating the First Scrutiny at this Mass, so the homily is based on John’s story of the woman at the well. Once uploaded to SoundCloud, our parish digital discipleship ministry then posted the link on our parish Facebook page to reach an even wider audience.
Once you find sounds that you like, you can opt to follow them. One great advantage of SoundCloud is also its storage limit. Individual free accounts are allowed to create 120 minutes of uploads/sounds per year with no time restrictions on how long a single podcast can be. Premium packages are also available for between about $40 a year to $80 per month. (Prices are given in Euros, so allow for conversion rates)
Whether you are a catechist or a preacher, a gifted speaker or a 21st Century digital evangelist, SoundCloud can make creating and sharing your message easy. If you already use SoundCloud, I’d love to connect with you and see what you have posted. Please leave your comment below.