BETT 2015 once again proved to be very popular, with hundreds of companies sharing their new and innovative products aimed at the educational sector. Over 35,000 people are reported to have attended the show this year, and here are some of the highlights which we spotted:
The show was opened by England’s Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, arguing that, “Innovative technologies must be at the heart of education change, but this vision is not shared by all schools”, and that “The pace of change that it is difficult for teachers to adapt quickly”. She also highlighted research showing that more than half of teenagers know more about computing and computers than their teachers. The full speech is available at bit.ly/ BETT2015Morgan.
1. Microsoft and Minecraft @microsofteduk – With the 2014 purchase of Minecraft by Microsoft, there was clearly quite a large presence from the tech giant, showing the creative opportunities which Minecraft offers. On their stand, Microsoft showcased the program, with live demonstrations of how Minecraft can be crafted into different curriculum areas. Many envied the TNT boxes and blocks on display within the area!
2. DK Find Out @dkbooks – We are all familiar with the knowledge and capacity of the DK Books, offering a wealth of information covering many school curriculum topics. Now, the publisher has digitised their extensive library online which is easily accessible on all devices, including desktop, tablet and mobile. This new digital offering enhances the learning experience with sound, video animation and quizzes throughout.
3. Class Charts @Classcharts – We were impressed with the behaviour and seating program developed by Class Charts (classcharts.com) which develops seating plans to help teachers ensure that pupils are sat where they are not distracted by peers by rating how they cope sat among different people. This is stored on the platform, helping inform colleagues determine the best places to seat pupils. As the developers pointed out to us, it’s not all about negatives, but also note the positive behaviours of pupils, and how well they work with different peers.
4. Sphero @SpheroEdu – We spotted quite a few robots at BETT, and the first to be featured in this section is Sphero, which uses the SPRK program to control the spherical machine. At first glance, Sphero may just seem like a quirky gadget, but when used with the (free) “Sphero Macrolab” app available for Android or iOS. Supported by some great STEM activities (available at their website at bit.ly/BETTSphero) the orb can support learning about: Time, distance and speed; 2d geometry; mean, median and mode; percentages, and so on.
5. Arckit @Arckitmodel – We loved the potential that Arckit is able to offer. The model making system allows pupils to physically explore designs and bring their own architectural projects. The system uses interconnecting components that are completely modular and based on modern panelled building techniques, making it possible to create a diverse range of scaled structures that can be quickly assembled and endlessly modified. Visit their website at arckit.com.
6. VSWare @VSwareUK – Some of the practicalities of actually running a school are being challenged by some companies who are using the free-market to offer products and savings that are appealing to many. One such company is VSWare who are offering a user-friendly school administration/ Management Information System, which is easily accessible to teachers and administrators alike. Key information procedures are easily accessible and easy to maintain, which is key for keeping relevant information up-to-date. Explore at vsware.co.uk.
7. Sir Ken Robinson – The highlight of the show, for many (judging by the crowds he drew) was the keynote speech from Sir Ken Robinson. During the speech, the well-respected and renowned educator compared the international education performance tables by PISA like the Eurovision song contest – “It hasn’t improved pop music in the same way PISA hasn’t improved education”. He declared that, “We don’t need evolution, we need revolution in education”, urging teachers to “change what you do.”
8. Petra’s Planet Edu @PetrasPlanetEDU – This online patform for PCs, laptops and tablets enables primary schools to teach children E-Safety and Digital Literacy through a safe, secure and engaging online virtual world. The site also encourages innovative thinking and problem solving skills. Pupils from the same class can communicate and collaborate even when they are exploring the virtual environment on separate devices. The children can design their own avatar and keep updated with class news via the child-friendly dashboard. See more at petrasplanetedu.com.
9. Muv: Bird @Muvinteractive – As you would imagine interactive screens are everywhere at BETT. Bird offers something different. This small device attaches to your index finger and communicates directly with your computer to make any surface interactive, whether that is a screen, a table or even thin air. The device senses your gestures to allow you to control the programmes and media on your screen. See more information, including a set of videos showing the capabilities of the device at muvinteractive.com.
10. Rapid Education @Rapid_Edu – There are some stands at BETT which simply tick all the boxes. This stand had the right mix of fun small items to try out and examine, plus larger exciting items like a 3D printer (complete with a 3D printed Darth Vader), maker electronics for students to hack their circuit boards and robots to construct and code. See more at rapidonline.com/education.
11. TTS Group @TTS_Group – TTS continue to develop their product range, building on the popularity of the Bee-Bot range, which is visible in many primary schools across the country.
12. TeachMeet BETT – The yearly sharing of teaching ideas and resources at TM BETT is always a highlight of the BETT Show and this year certainly didn’t disappoint. From live ‘real-world’ coding from @catherinelliott, international collaboration from @digitalmaverick and partners, a flurry of teaching ideas from @ASTSupportAAli, to well-being ideas separately from @iTeachRE and @abbiemann1982, there truly was something for everyone. You can browse the archived TM BETT 2015 site at bit.ly/uked15feb20.