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Students at South Kent College in Dover are being offered free iPod Nanos to help them keep up with work.

The college has forked out £25,000 for the kit which it says will be issued only to students with a full attendance record, and who have completed all their assignments.

But the college also says that the plan is to podcast lectures so that students can catch up with missed material.

(Anyone else struggling to reconcile those two sentences?)

According to assistant principal Josh Coleman, the pilot scheme has been a great success. He explained that it had been paid for from savings made on a building project.

The idea came from similar projects in Australia and the US.

Coleman told the BBC that, in the long run, the investment would mean benefits for teachers too:

"At first people thought I was giving iPods out to get people through the door, but they can now see the long-term merits. As we attract more full-time students, that generates income which will offset initial outlay, and [lecturers'] wages will go up."

Initially, lectures on IT, motor vehicle engineering, and childcare will be made available as podcasts, but the technology will gradually be extended to cover the whole curriculum.

Critics at the campaign for Real Education called it a "scandalous waste of taxpayers' money".

Chairman Nick Seaton described the project as bribery and said that it devalued education. "Youngsters should want to take the courses for their own sake if they are worthwhile," he said. ®

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