Page last updated at 09:50 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 10:50 UK

Using mobile phones to gather news

By Lucie Mclean
BBC product manager - mobiles

Mobile phone

BBC News School Report gives students the opportunity to gather news in a variety of ways.

Some teachers are choosing to work with students to gather news material using their mobile phones.

Pupils at two schools, in Nottingham and London, were excited about using gadgets with which they were already familiar.

Below is a rough outline of what is required to incorporate mobile newsgathering into a school-based activity.

SAFETY

When taking photos, filming or recording audio it is important students do not endanger themselves or others, take unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

Students should plan how to use their phones safely, in the same way they would if they were using a video camera.

RECORDING MATERIAL

You will need mobile phones which can record pictures, video and sound and have Bluetooth connections.

These handsets need to have sufficient free memory to be able to record the required material - and they need to be fully charged too as this all saps battery life!

CONNECTION TO THE COMPUTER

You need to use Bluetooth to extract the clips and pictures from the phones.

You can either use computers which have Bluetooth already installed or you can attach and install software from a Bluetooth dongle.

Mobile phone camera
Students need to be familiar with editing software

To get the clips from the handsets you can pair all the handsets individually with the Bluetooth device on the computer.

Downloading the clips can be quite time consuming. We recommend that a teacher does this with the students present to explain where the clips are on their phone.

To make this process easier, pupils should rename their clips with their own name, before they send them - enabling the teacher to identify which clips belong to which students.

During a News Day at Greenwood Dale School in Nottingham, students labelled their phones with a sticker, explaining where to find the clips.

Teachers downloaded them during the lunch period, so that students were ready to edit them when they returned to the ICT suite at the beginning of the afternoon.

Another method, which has proved time-saving in the past, is for the pupils to send all their clips to one central handset with a large memory. This is then paired to the computer and the clips removed from it.

REFORMATTING SOFTWARE

Pictures from mobile phones will be saved as jpg files which can be used in most image and web editing packages.

However audio files from a phone are usually amr files while video will be saved as either a 3gp or a mpg4 file.

These files need to be converted into the formats needed for traditional audio and video editing packages (such as avi, mov and wav files).

There are a number of computer packages available which will enable you to do this.

EDITING SOFTWARE

The material recorded by the pupils will then need to be manipulated using picture, audio and video editing packages.

It is preferable to use software with which the pupils are familiar, as time during a News Day is short and the material needs to be edited quickly.

SCHOOL REPORTS

Students at Greenwood Dale School in Nottingham used mobile phones to gather news during a School Report News Day.



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