Page last updated at 19:05 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 20:05 UK

Students make mobile phone news

Trevor, 12, Adriano, 12,  and Okeeno, 13, listen back to the report they have recorded on an iPod.
Trevor, 12, Adriano, 12, and Okeeno, 13, listen back to the report they have recorded on an iPod.
School children have been using their mobile phones and iPods to make the news as part of a BBC project to engage students with journalism.

A class of 12 and 13-year-olds from Lilian Baylis Technology School in Lambeth, London transformed their personal gadgets into news-gathering devices.

Year 8 students snapped photographs using their mobile phones and combined them with radio reports, which they recorded using an iPod or a traditional microphone.

The result was a series of multi-media news reports available to download from the internet.

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Lambeth City Learning Centre (CLC) manager Abigail Norton, was at the school to assist students with the technology and upload their news to the CLC website.

She said: "Using mobile phones, and other technology, in the classroom makes students feel professional and encourages them to value their work."

She added: "Lilian Baylis has rules about when students can and can't use their mobile phones, but some schools won't allow phones under any circumstances. It's great to be working with people who are keen to investigate the educational potential of hand-held devices."

Making the news

After researching the news using a collection of daily newspapers and news websites, students gathered interviews on their mobile phones. This information was used to inform their radio scripts.

Amy, 13, writes her news script.
Amy, 13, writes her news script.
Thabo, 12, said: "Normally in class, we record information in writing. Today, we wrote scripts and used technology, so it was a good balance."

BBC News Interactive journalist, Lucie Mclean, who specialises in mobile phones, added: "Using phones meant students could gather news quickly as they were already familiar with the technology."

Students also captured and listened to their own voices on their phones in preparation for the final recording.

Teacher and head of citizenship at the school, Abi Kendall, said: "Using mobile phones to rehearse in this way means students are more confident when it comes to standing up in front of a class."

Gary, 12, added: "If you keep practising, you are less nervous about making a mistake."

The recording deadline was scheduled for 1400 and Hassan, 13, was the last of 28 students to present his report - about gun crime in south London.

He explained: "I lost my script and had to write it out again from memory. It was a bit of a rush at the end and I felt under pressure because of the deadline but I managed to keep my cool."

Ivan, 12, records his news report.
Ivan, 12, records his news report.
The final news reports were recorded using a traditional microphone to ensure a high-quality recording.

During future workshops, CLC manager Abigail Norton plans to boost sound recorded using a mobile phone in an editing package, before making it available to download from the internet.

She also plans to transfer students' reports back to their mobile phones, enabling those without internet access to show their friends and relatives their work at the end of the school day.

Technology

Lambeth CLC technician George Belfield edits the students' work
Lambeth CLC technician George Belfield edits the students' work
Students' photographs were transferred to a computer using Bluetooth technology.

They were added to their radio report to create an audio/video file (mpeg4) using a software package called GarageBand from Apple.

BBC News journalist Chris Moore, who passed on his news-making tips to the students, said: "There were several budding journalists buzzing with boisterous creativity. They were good at writing short reports, which is a valuable skill to have in radio journalism."

As well as encouraging other students to make the news with the help of the BBC, teacher Abi Kendall, is planning to organise an after-school journalism club.

She said: "There is so much to be gained from an activity like this. The students improved their literacy skills, without even realising it, but what was particularly interesting for me was to see them working as a team.

"There was a great deal of camaraderie and a real desire to help one another to succeed."

Education consultant, Liz Abbensetts, added: "It encouraged students to pool their experience - of news and technology - to help one another. It's an incredibly motivating experience."

School news project

Uryas, 12, and Ivan, 12, research their news story.
Uryas, 12, and Ivan, 12, research their news story.
The Year 8 pupils made news as part of BBC News School Report, which encourages students to make TV, radio and online news in their schools and publish it on a school website.

Sixty UK schools, including Lilian Baylis, are involved in the 2006/7 pilot stage of the project which the BBC hopes to extend to all secondary schools in the future.

School Report culminates in a national School Report News Day when all participating schools simultaneously make and publish their news on the internet.




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