Classroom Review: Soundtrap – The web-based app that changed audio production.

I can honestly say that my fears about not being able to use our iMacs to create and collaborate through audio were entirely unfounded.  What developers are currently doing with web-based applications make living in my post-Apple world not only bearable, but downright enjoyable.

I have two criteria when searching for a “go-to” application.  The user interface has to be small, minimalistic, student-friendly, and it has to be so intuitive that it does what I (the user) expects it to do.  For example, if I’m used to right-clicking to get a particular set of options, I expect to get the same options in a new application experience.

After digging through tons of research about audio editing on a Chromebook, I stumbled upon a web-based application on http://www.soundtrap.com called Soundtrap Beta.  It immediately met criteria number one.  It’s minimalistic without being overbearing but screams easy to use.  SoundTrap houses a multi-track editor, enough space to work on five projects at once, and offers a critical aspect to any educational technology application; collaboration.

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I started an account by signing in with Google, and five seconds later I was in a robust multitrack editor.  In less than a minute, my Blue Yeti microphone was set up.  Soundtrap had already recognized the device and was ready to record.  A full ninety seconds later I had laid out one of the many preloaded beds and recorded a stock voice over we keep housed on our Google Drive.

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I was so excited about the ease of use I immediately asked our advanced audio production class to put it through its paces; producing a thirty-second PSA for college applications.  Moments later as students started their projects, notifications through Soundtrap let me know that they wanted to collaborate.  Accepting the invitations meant I could see their work in real-time.  Making suggestings was as easy as sending a short message, or communicating in the “collaboration” window that Soundtrap provides.  Take it one step further and now I’m video chatting with a student about their project while they upload music beds, sound effects and input their voice over.

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This was a game changer for our program.  No longer were we restricted by the pieces of equipment in production rooms.  Students could now work from home on their personal computers, iPhones, or iPads allowing for collaboration among teachers beyond the average hours of our school day.

Sountrap on the surface gears itself towards musicians who are looking for ways to collaborate on original songs, or mixed.  The preloaded instruments and basic editing features beg for that musical element.  On the surface, it did not fit our needs, but we had to dig deeper.  To find efficiency in educational technology, you have to see beyond the face value of many applications.  Soundtrap allowed us to take a non-traditional route and make it extremely useful in our field of study.  I don’t know if the Swedish based company intended their program to be used by my students, but it’s provided us with an entirely new approach to collaboration and creativity.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services mentioned.

The Start.

For most educators diving into new technology can be a bit startling. Add in starting a blog and things can get downright brutal.  But with the growing need in our educational communities for “voices of change,” I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring.

My journey into education was rough.  With a career and technical degree and no traditional teaching license, I walked into a classroom with very little background on how to actually manage 20-30 kids for days on end.  Those first few years were tough.  I found that the more I bought into the strategies that were going to make me a more successful teacher, the easier it was to actually teach.

As time passed, I found myself developing as a teacher when I integrated technology into my lectures.  I found new ways to engage my students while making a smooth transition into lab work.  Six years later, while still learning new programs and systems our program has hit a stride, continuing to become a more efficient classroom and media program.

Which is where I am today.  I believe technology in the classroom should empower teachers to become more efficient so they can take their classrooms back.  With the growing evaluation rubrics, teachers have less time to do what their job descriptions ask.  Excitement has to build for any 1:1 initiative to be successful.  I get it, that last part can be exhausting, but if implemented correctly educators could see collaboration and engagement on entirely new levels.

So that is what I hope this blog will do.  Provide a place where I can reflect on my journey into educational technology and lay out a groundwork that can inspire other educators to implement new ideas into their classrooms.

Side note:  A special thanks to a great friend who helped edit my first post.