Mike Haslin, Chief Executive Officer at TUCO, The University Caterers Organisation, discusses how to achieve value for money in these unpredictable times
What is Studytracks?
Created by Ivor Novello Award Winner, George Hammond-Hagan, Studytracks is an innovative, learner-led study app that merges music with revision material by delivering lyrics relating to a specific theme or subject. The app provides an alternative and contemporary way for students to study that is both enjoyable and effective.
In the UK, Studytracks is aimed at secondary school and college students (11-18-year-olds) studying for their GCSE, AS & A-Level exams. In the US it is targeted at the same age group who are sitting their SAT and ACT’s. In France, again the same age group who will be sitting their French equivalent exams for that age group. All content featured on the app is curriculum-aligned and inclusive, comprised of over 850 tracks covering a wide variety of music genres. Tracks are added weekly and the content is growing rapidly.
Students’ knowledge can be tested using the in-app quiz, ensuring their learning is thorough and consolidated. Studytracks is not solely a freemium app available from the app stores, it is also now a schools’ platform so that it can be integrated with classroom teaching. Both are powerful new tools in education.
Studytracks was designed with 21st Century learning in mind. Revision is an important element of exam success, so studying needs to engage and motivate students, keeping them focused for longer. Studytracks responds to the needs of students, giving them an alternative way to study in and out of the classroom that is not only appealing, but engaging and effective too, suiting their “generation Z”, technology-oriented lifestyles.
The app was inspired by the idea that music can be used to significantly improve encoding of information and recall. But George himself best outlines the distinctive and innovative design of Studytracks:
“I remember coming home one afternoon a few years ago – my son was studying for his GCSEs at the time. I could hear music blaring from his bedroom and when I questioned it, he told me it helped him study. As the conversation unfolded, he explained to me that listening to music helped him concentrate. I decided to put the idea to the test: if I could put together the information he needed in a way that he also found enjoyable, then maybe he’d be able to learn more effectively. I took the instrumental of Fat Joe’s song ‘Lean Back’ and recorded some physics information that he’d been struggling with as the lyrics. I then played it to him: my son lost his mind - he loved it! Two weeks later he told me he was in school and the topic of conversation in his physics class was the information I’d recorded; all of a sudden he was able to recall the information, just like he would song lyrics, and recite all the correct answers back to his teacher! Studytracks was born.”
Meeting the needs of schools and students *Increases engagement & effective learning.
Studytracks is an alternative, 21st Century approach to studying; while pens, books and note-taking may work for some, for others, it is simply ineffective, and we are seeing this more with today’s digital natives. Studytracks engages learners by making revision enjoyable and flexible, to suit their individual needs.
Within three weeks of launching on leap day 2016 Studytracks had 10,000 active users and over 34,000 users a few months later. This figure is still rising at an unprecedented rate and stands at over 180,000 downloads with dozens of schools now on the Studytracks for Schools Platform.
The schools’ platform will help teachers keep students engaged with subjects outside of the classroom by creating playlists and tasks to complete in preparation for the next lesson and consolidate the material they’ve already been taught. The web-based platform allows for simple playlist compilation, teachers can then add from a bank of questions for tests (even adding some of their own if needed) then with a click of a button assign homework to the pupil’s devices where it appears ready to rock.
Studytracks for Schools gives teachers greater functionality; allowing them to prepare and plan lessons more effectively, monitor assessment, and track students’ progress. If, for example, 80 per cent of the class are scoring 85+, they can easily see those students who are achieving lower than this. Using the platform, they can start tweaking the way they teach, focusing more on how certain students might need to improve.
Closed user groups within the schools’ version means that teachers will be able to see all students results, but students won’t be able to see anyone’s other than their own. The interface will also allow them to breakdown filters in different ways, so they can look at the school, individual classrooms, or individual students, over multiple timeframes. This allows them to identify and track trends.
Most importantly, with the significant increase in the demands on teachers under the new format exams, Studytracks for schools allow them to so much more, in much shorter period. As a result, more time is available to finesse the subjects within the classroom to help students achieve.
For the cherry on the top, as if a new and exciting way of studying wasn’t enough, there’s an in app rewards program. This rewards students for their work with options for iTunes vouchers, Amazon vouchers, Skull Candy earphones and may more.
Studytracks is a robust, well made and intuitively designed way to add to any pupil’s arsenal for learning and allows teachers to keep some more of their most precious commodity – time. Whether through the app store or the schools platform, Studytracks is unique and ultimately effective.
Studytracks for schools is available as a free trial now through the website www.studytracks.education and we provide a full support program to make sure the simple set up process is as easy and manageable as possible. Pricing is very competitive for schools budgets and is surprisingly effective for the cost outlay, giving more improvement per £1 spent than many other edtech opportunities.
It is also available through the app stores (iTunes & Google Play) for free for single students and comes with a selection of tracks so you can test before upgrading to premium for a small monthly fee.