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Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK
Text messaging soap to aid revision
text message graphic
Plot involves exam students in a love triangle
The popularity of mobile phone text messages is being used to help GCSE students revise for their exams.

As part of its KnowitAll scheme, Knowsley Council is running an SMS-based soap opera.

To relieve the stress of revision, teenagers can keep up with the adventures of three people their own ages - Kym, Jez and Abi.

You have to be a pupil in the North West Learning Grid region to subscribe to the "WAN2LRN" service - but anyone else can keep up with the story over the web, albeit with a lag of a day or two.

The three characters are in a love triangle and each day one of them sends a message which goes to all the subscribers.

Previously on WAN2LRN ...

    20 - Sat 21st April 9.45pm
    at k-i-a gig. rob still ugly but they rock! xcelent - rlly big NRG comin out of the band! l8r jez

    21 - Sun 22nd April 10.30am
    k-i-a gig ws M A zin! rob is sooo sxy dn't kno if i'd choose j or rob if i had the chnce! xkym

    22 - Mon 23rd April 6.00pm
    did u gve in rvsion tmtble? got k-i-a cd for handin in. not bad! xabi

If this is heavy going the KnowitAll website has a glossary of common terms, but those in the target age group are unlikely to have problems.

Each of the characters has an online diary to supplement the messages, which is a way of getting youngsters to use the website and - it is hoped - the serious advice pages on it.

A first?

The soap was the idea of Knowsley's principal social development officer, Damian Allen.

He believes it is the first educational application of text messaging in Britain.

The "script" is the work of Chris Thorpe of Unlimited Theatre. The plot will run to 23 June when the exams finish.

"Let's just say you have to go through a little bit of trauma in life but things generally work out for the best," he said.

Mr Thorpe uses text messages a lot but was approached because he wrote a mini play of 30 messages which ran alongside a production Unlimited Theatre took to last year's Edinburgh Festival.

Future?

He thinks the medium can appeal to GCSE students in a way that simply being invited to visit the website would not.

He sees it as a beneficial use of the craze for mobiles which has led to their being banned is many schools because they might be lost or stolen, or are simply a nuisance in class.

They have also been used to send bullying messages.

"It's not a con trick - we are not marketing anything," he said.

"We are in this honeymoon period with text messaging where people are trying out things.

"Inevitably it is going to end up in the hands of people who are just using it for marketing.

"Good applications will get swamped out by advertisers - and they will have a lot more scary tricks to get you to hit a website than I can come up with."

See also:

21 Feb 01 | Business
Text messaging nears a billion
16 Jan 01 | Education
Girl tormented by phone bullies
21 Feb 01 | UK Politics
'Hate' e-mails to be outlawed
14 Feb 01 | UK
WUBMV? messages set 2 soar
18 Dec 00 | Sci/Tech
Living life by txt msg
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