School turns on iPods to keep exam pupils one step ahead
Inveralmond Community High School in Livingston has become one of the first in the country to try to educate youngsters through podcasts.
Audio guides on passing standard grades in English, maths, German, religious studies, history, modern studies and drama are all available online, with more to be added.
Pupils can go on the school's website and download the podcasts as they would a new song or radio show, and listen to them on their way to school.
Staff at Inveralmond believe the idea is helping them reach children whose lives revolve around technology such as iPods and PCs, and who consider it uncool to be seen reading books.
John Wood, drama tutor at the school, said: "The idea came from a discussion between computer teacher Peter May and myself.
"We were aware that a lot of kids have iPods and MP3 players and we wanted to help them get some extra study using that technology.
"We did a demo and then got principal teachers to write out scripts. I read them out and then we put them on the website with music and sound effects.
"It's basically exam advice but subject orientated, with tips such as keep an eye on the time and which questions are likely to come up."
He added: "The kids can go to homework clubs but that's not seen as cool. This way they can listen to it on the way to school and no-one will know."
Although it is generally exam tips that have featured on the podcasts, English and drama lessons have also been made available online.
If the technique proves popular it is likely to be used in other subjects and to help pupils studying for their Highers.
Rachel Hastie, 15, who is studying for her Standard Grades, said she would like to see podcasts used more in school.
"I've used the podcasts for English and drama," she added. "It's a fun way to work - they explain it quite well and it is better than studying from a book, which can be quite boring.
"They're easy to listen to and it sticks in your head. They're popular and everyone at school seems quite excited about them."
The school's headteacher Bill Tevendale plans to increase the role given to cutting edge technology, such as podcasts, in the way subjects are taught to pupils. "I think inevitably it's going to grow," he said.
"We already use internet sites such as BBC bitesize and Samlearning.
"I've noticed in the past that children clearly not motivated to work in class suddenly became interested in learning from the internet at home.
"This is just further development of that and I am delighted with the quality of the podcasts, which is very high. It's the way things are going - from blackboards to whiteboards, reference books to the internet, and now word of mouth to podcasts, all of which have been very positive developments."
Inveralmond Community High School