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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


pandora.com

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Dec 01, 2008 by Music
Overview: Based on the Music Genome Project, this site feeds the user a playlist based on information provided by the user both initially during account creation and continuously during use. The user enters the name of an artist or song that is a "favorite" and the site provides streaming music that is related to the target artist or song. Music is searchable by artist, title, or genre. The user can vote "thumbs up," "thumbs down," or "skip" for any song played. The site requires free registration and is restricted to users age 13 and older who live in the United States. The site is available in a free advertisement supported version as well as an ad-free subscription version.
Learning Goals: Discovery of music related to stated favorites. Development of an understanding of musical styles. Development of an understanding of music from selected historical periods.
Target Student Population: Students aged 13 and up.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None.
Type of Material: Exploratory online music delivery system.
Recommended Uses: Could be used for activities in a music appreciation or music history class. For example, students might consider why one artist or song has been linked with another, leading to analysis and discussion of a variety of stylistic elements.
Technical Requirements: Multimedia web browser (Flash plugin).

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The audio streams are clean and of reasonably high quality. A wide variety of artists are represented. The threads linking selections together appear coherent.
Concerns: The free version of the site (which will be most attractive to educators) is advertisement supported.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The site offers a wide selection of popular and folk music styles. As a learning tool, it is likely to be effective when used as part of a lesson. The "share" feature could allow students and teachers to share the "stations" they create as part of the learning or assessment process. Creation of a "station" from a specific title selection results in another song being played first (due to license agreements) with accompanying text explaining the stylistic connection between the selected title and the first title streamed.
Concerns: Although the content of the site is excellent and site functionality contributes favorably to a variety of possible lesson objectives, the site itself is not designed with a pedagogical focus; thus, teacher guidance will be necessary. Since music is streamed and cannot be replayed on demand (due to license restrictions) it may be difficult to document or reproduce specific learning experiences.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The interface is clean, attractive, and largely icon-based. The site is very easy to use and includes extensive "help" in the form of "frequently asked questions" as well as email contact information for technical support.
Concerns: None.

Other Issues and Comments: As of the writing of this review (2 April, 2008) the site is only available in the United States. Information on the site indicates that world-wide distribution is a future goal. Pandora.com complies with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and pays licensing fees to SoundExchange, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for all music that is played on Pandora.