DUNDEE-BASED 3MRT, the "mind-mapping" software company, has teamed up with St Andrews-based educational publishers Leckie & Leckie to launch online revision guides for Scottish exam students using video game technology.
The best-selling revision guides of Leckie & Leckie, which was acquired by Granada Learning in 2002, have been turned into learning games using "cool characters" by 3MRT, whose technology was prompted by a demand from Dundee University's medical school for educational and revision techniques.
Sarah Mitchell, senior publisher at Leckie & Leckie, said: "Our expertise in the Scottish secondary education market has been combined with 3MRT's leading-edge software to produce an interactive and stimulating resource that encourages students to take control of their own revision programme."
Euan Mackenzie, chief executive of 3MRT and a survivor of the mind-map developer Mindwarp Pavilion, which sank in the dot.com bust, said: "We have tried to incorporate gaming techniques in terms of repetition, trying to get students to come back and compete against themselves, and use the addictive element to help learning."
Students can also benchmark themselves against their class using an interactive self-test feature, where schools buy into the programme and give pupils passwords for logging on at home.
Revision Mind Maps, launched for 23 exams with eight in the pipeline, have been piloted in Angus with the support of Scottish Enterprise Tayside, and are now in use in seven of the region's eight secondary schools.
Mackenzie said the original version had been redesigned after a wave of constructive criticism from teenagers. "They loved the technology, but hated the interface, so the two companies went back, videoed focus groups of students, and asked them what they wanted changing. We spent nine months redeveloping it."
He added: "It recognises the fact that there are different types of learners. We have had particular success with learners who may have difficulties in some areas, but also with high achievers. The one thing we guarantee is a cool set of study notes."
The maps cover Standard, Intermediate and Higher exams and can be bought individually online.
SIMON BAIN February 12 2004