Playlist lessons for the iPod generation

2nd December 2005 at 00:00
Pupils may prefer listening to bands like the Arctic Monkeys and the Gorillaz on their iPods, but their playlists should soon include a less hip sound: double French lessons.

Alan November, a technology guru from the US, has been urging headteachers in Britain to buy the fashionable music players for their staff, especially language teachers, and to use them to record their classes.

Mr November told heads at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust conference in Birmingham it was crucial they considered posting lessons on the internet so pupils could play them at their leisure on iPods and other portable music players.

"Don't think about it - just do it," he said.

A handful of schools in the UK are already using "podcasts" for pupil projects and citizenship lessons, paying between pound;50 and pound;250 for the music players and around pound;20 for microphones. Mr November also urged British schools to hire teachers in countries such as India and Israel to be on standby to answer pupils' questions via email or over cheap internet telephone. This would allow students to get help with homework at 2am or during holidays.

His said that teachers should set up their own personal websites and play computer games with their pupils.

"You will lose badly - they will slaughter you," he said. "But it's important for adults to understand how young people learn through games."

Mr November, who is based in Massachusetts and lectures at Setton Hall university in New Jersey, has been working with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust for three years to help its schools become more innovative.

He began his career as an oceanography teacher at an island reform school for boys in Boston harbour.

"If you ever want everyone to listen to what you are saying, teach oceanography at an island prison school," he said.

"They paid particular attention in the lesson on tides. The subtext was always escape."

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