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Praise all round for online course

Scholar: Advanced Higher French online learning programme Heriot Watt University

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French is the latest addition to Heriot Watt University's online Scholar programme and it is proving popular.

At Balerno High in Edinburgh, the 10 Advanced Higher pupils spend one period a week working online. Their teacher, Rosalind Thompson, is pleased with the programme's range and content.

She sees Scholar as an important add-on to class-based work and recommends students use it for consolidation and extra study. Work on European political issues, for example, can be extended through Scholar reading texts, which include up-to-date information about immigration.

Pupils enjoy taking an independent look at different topics. Alice Pick, who recently spent time attending school in France, says: "It was good to read about French people's experience of preparing to go to university, to see how it compares with my own feelings.

"We learn a lot of new vocabulary and facts and figures that might not have come up in class."

The structured format lends itself to being dipped into. All topics, such as the environment, are divided into three levels of difficulty, each containing a range of exercises in all the skill areas.

The grammar exercises - such as note the gender, fill in the verb and match the translation - hark back to early grammar books. The pupils appreciate the immediate marking system which, they say, makes them stop and work out the reasons for their mistakes.

For the class at Hillhead High in Glasgow, homework has taken on a new form. Their teacher, Nicola Derieux, says: "Listening homework is now a practical option and what I'm most excited about." Students can work on listening exercises directly related to the topics studied in the class.

Both teachers are pleased with Scholar's tracking system. "I can see exactly what students have done and how long they've spent on each activity," says Ms Derieux.

Mrs Thompson agrees that this is a first-rate incentive for careful completion of both classwork and homework. Pupils can also access a personal progress report of all work done within the past month.

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