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iPhys: Digital Revision Notes for CitySun

In 2008, I was com­mis­sioned by City of Sun­der­land Col­lege to pro­duce a series of Dig­i­tal Revi­sion Notes for Phys­i­ol­o­gy and Biol­o­gy stu­dents. These would be made avail­able on the course VLE sys­tem for down­load as pod­casts by stu­dents as an adjunct to writ­ten and oth­er online mate­ri­als that could be lis­tened to on the way to, from and between class­es or at home.

We decid­ed to call the first, Phys­i­ol­o­gy, stage of the project “iPhys” (well, why not) and as a result the depart­ment came up with twen­ty draft scripts (we had to split a long one, so this became 21), cov­er­ing such top­ics as Enzymes, Gas Exchange and the Lungs, Home­osta­sis & Hor­mones, and so on.

I decid­ed to approach these in the same style as “The Book”, as played by Peter Jones in Dou­glas Adams’s The Hitch­hik­er’s Guide to the Galaxy, pre­sent­ing the infor­ma­tion over a nice syn­the­sised music bed to avoid the pre­sen­ta­tions being too dry and tech­ni­cal, so I drew exten­sive­ly on music from EMI Music’s KPM Pro­duc­tion Music Library, for­mer­ly an employ­er of mine, and par­tic­u­lar­ly music by Dave Vorhaus, whose mate­r­i­al may be famil­iar to view­ers of Chan­nel 4’s Night Gallery some years ago. In addi­tion, I used some more recent pieces by oth­er com­posers. Each seg­ment has a stan­dard out­ro with a theme tune.

The ben­e­fit of using pro­duc­tion library music (rather than com­mer­cial music) for a project like this is that you don’t need a sep­a­rate PPL (Phono­graph­ic Per­for­mances Ltd) licence to cov­er the use with the record com­pa­ny: all that was required in this case was a Pod­cast licence under the PRS LOEL (Lim­it­ed Online Exploita­tion Licence), the fee for which is based on the num­ber of pieces of music times the num­ber of lis­ten­ers. With the num­ber of lis­ten­ers being known and lim­it­ed to enrolled course stu­dents, we came in well under the required max­i­mum num­ber of  “streams” to qual­i­fy for the low­est annu­al fee: a very rea­son­able amount.

Each top­ic runs for about five min­utes. I start­ed off with a pilot record­ing to fine-tune the con­cept, and once we had made a few minor changes the project was giv­en the go-ahead. I’ve com­plet­ed 17 of the seg­ments so far and the reac­tion has been excel­lent: we are already plan­ning sim­i­lar projects for oth­er departments.

As a spe­cial treat for the stu­dents we gave them a sea­son­al gift of a read­ing, with appro­pri­ate eerie music, of a Vic­to­ri­an ghost story.

Much as we would like to give you an exam­ple here, the licens­ing arrange­ment does­n’t let us. How­ev­er we will hap­pi­ly tell you more if you are inter­est­ed in a sim­i­lar project. Just con­tact us.