GCSEPod – how edtech helps students to revise and remember more in their preferred format.
GCSEPod is an edtech teaching and learning platform that allows students to view videos as part of their GCSE revision. The concept was the brainchild of frustrated dad Ian Thompson, whose son had struggled to learn in conventional lessons. Ian devised the idea of presenting information in an audio-visual format on MP4 – and this was in 2008, before the touchscreen smartphone was widely available.
Over 1,700 schools use GCSEPod, making the number of pupils currently using GCSEPod in the region of half a million. It’s used in over 47 countries and is compatible with the GCSE and iGCSE curricula – no wonder it’s won Best Secondary Content of the Year at the Bett Awards twice now.
Jayne Cook, Head of Marketing at GCSEPod, said:
“Ian, along with co-founder Anthony Coxon, thought there had to be another way for young people to learn – they wanted to make learning audio-visual. They began making videos available on iPods and iPhones as the handsets were just emerging onto the market.
“The videos have developed along with advancements in technology but were borne out of a father watching his son struggle to learn in conventional ways. The same ethos has been kept by the company throughout the years – the student is at the heart of what we do.”
So how does it work?
Do students use GCSEPod in lessons, at school clubs or at home? Jayne said it can be a mixture of all three, as the platform is easy to pick up and allows students to embed their knowledge of the curriculum following their lessons. Jayne added: “All children and teachers at the school have access to GCSEPod, although we have found that 70% of access is outside of school. We cover 27 different subjects and the layout is a little bit like Netflix – students can create a playlist for any areas they need to improve and teachers can add to interweave topics or ensure the learning is targeted where it will matter.”
The file sizes are incredibly small and devices ideally need a WiFi connection so GCSEPod can be used in cafes or libraries for example, and, for those without internet access at home, students can download content at school to study and view offline.
Jayne added: “Students just need access to a device. Because of this, GCSEPod is ideal for students off school due to long-term sickness. For those suffering from mental health issues who may feel daunted by classrooms and halls, the platform is perfect for keeping up with work missed at school and it really builds confidence.”
There are some superb accessibility features too, making reading and listening easier. For example, there are subtitles on the videos and users can slow down or speed up the text.
Over 1,500 schools use GCSEPod, making the number of pupils currently using GCSEPod in the region of half a million. It’s used in over 30 countries and is compatible with the GCSE and iGCSE curricula – no wonder it’s won Best Secondary Content of the Year at the Bett Awards twice now.
Feedback from many schools is that even the most disengaged learners live on their devices. Persuading them to spend 5-10 minutes a day watching pods, in between visits to their social media or YouTube is much easier than getting them to pick up a text book, they live on their devices and GCSEPod is clearly leading the way in providing students with a productive, proactive educational use for their beloved devices.
In September 2018, Stuart Bathurst Catholic High School was put in Special Measures following a damning Ofsted inspection. Within 12 months the West Midlands secondary had a change of Head, a change of culture and it also introduced GSCEPod.
Assistant Headteacher Gavina Raindi says “while we may still officially be in Special Measures, our Progress 8 score has increased to -0.19 – while still below national average this is a massive improvement from -0.54 a year ago”.
The Catholic high school has also recorded its best GCSE exam results in three years.
This newfound success has not been a chance thing. It has taken a clear vision, the relentless drive of staff and students, a change in leadership, and the introduction by new headteacher, Bridget Morris, of GCSEPod to help turn the academic tide.
Rolled out across Key Stage 4 in February 2019 and the rest of the school by the start of the summer holidays, GCSEPod was introduced as Bridget had first-hand experience of GCSEPod’s worth in helping improve not just exam results but raising scholarly aspirations.
It had been introduced at her previous school the preceding year with equally dramatic results. “Everyone was very impressed. We had seen our Progress 8 go from -0.42 to -0.14 in a year, which was amazing. We couldn’t say it was all down to GCSEPod as other measures were introduced too, but there is no doubt it played a big part.
“When I arrived here at Stuart Bathurst, GCSEPod was one of the first things I wanted to get in. I suppose you could see it as a gift to the students. It created an instant buzz and we had children saying they enjoy listening to them at night before they go to bed.”
The short, snappy and visually appealing Pods were viewed an astonishing 104,942 times between February and the end of the academic year, catapulting Stuart Bathurst not just to the top of the West Midlands area Pod Games – a competitive contest that ranks schools by the number of videos watched, with awards and prizes presented to the winners regionally and nationally – but to exam success.
“GCSEPod has absolutely been a key driver in improving results in our school. Since we launched the software the figures show how much our students and staff have welcomed the investment in their revision and teaching and learning resources.
“The software exposed students to new ways of revising and created a culture of healthy competition and motivation to do well. It has helped us move towards cutting edge teaching and learning by showing students that we are willing to invest in them and their learning, and this has added to their intrinsic motivation.”
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