What to expect at #BETT2018

Christmas has just ended and the New Year is now dawning upon us — but we’re already ramping up for BETT2018, and we’re taking you with us. As an official media partner, through our social media channels, we’re going to be reporting on some of the most innovative, useful and inspiring products that can support the teaching and learning process in schools globally. Register for your free ticket to BETT here.

The biggest EdTech show in Europe is set to officially kick off on the 24th January 2018, for four days — which actually means big announcements will start in earnest several days before. The London show, hosted at the vast ExCel centre in the East End of the city, spans over several sizable exhibition halls (an amazing 41,000 sqm), so setting up a plan of who to visit during the show is a sensible strategy, otherwise, it is easy to become distracted by the shiny lights and cool toys – which is why we’re collecting lists to inspire primary or secondary teachers and school leaders, along with an ed-tech geek list, for those who really like their shiny new technology (click here to visit the lists).

Many of the of big trends for the event were dominant forces in past years. We’ve seen a shift in whiteboard-technology, coding, 3D printing capabilities, and assessment tools all utilising technology to help inform progression and potential innovation in schools. Additionally, platforms have integrated with Management Information Systems to help inform student progress, as traditional market-leaders feel the pressure from companies trying to make the entire information system process more intuitive and usable for teachers and leaders alike.

So here’s what we know — or think we know — about the upcoming show’s biggest news, pulled from exhibitor lists, the rumour mill and an examination of larger education industry trends.

Among some of the big names, and notable speakers in 2018, including the Education Secretary for England Justine Greening, Bob Geldof talking about GDPR (who knew?), Cressida Cowell (the acclaimed author of How To Train Your Dragon), as well as a collection of teachers and school leaders all advocating various technological products and strategies that are used in classrooms.

Virtual Reality

Allowing pupils to become immersed in their learning is possible, with a cardboard or plastic headset, and a smart device which responds to your head movement. Yes, welcome to the world of virtual reality. VR, as a technology, has not yet fulfilled its full potential, with issues around motion sickness and virtual worlds not syncing up to physical movements. Align this with issues around cost and the processing requirements needed to run the software, many would expect the VR bandwagon to run out of steam. Yet, during BETT2018, Ian Phillips will showcase how boys at his school use VR to help become immersive storytellers, creating 360-degree virtual tours, and find new ways to solve problems using project-based learning (26-Jan-2018, 14:15 – 14:45, Schools Theatre). For those wanting to see VR in action, Integrex will be showcasing their ClassVR kits (stand C421), or Parotec Solutions will highlight Google Expeditions with their RedBox VR kits (stand B141).

Hacking

There has been plenty in the news about how hacking into devices used in everyday lives puts privacy and security at risk and ensuring that young people understand the issues around hacking is critical now, and in the future. Evidence has shown that social media platforms have been hacked and news-stories infiltrated by nefarious organisations globally. Interestingly, for those interested in cybersecurity, James McDowell from Blackberry will be presenting about, “Ethical hackers: turning the tables on the cybercriminals targeting education” (25-Jan-2018, 12:15 – 13:00, Bett Arena) whilst demonstrating the ease of hacking an IOT (Internet of Things) enabled device live on stage. Within computing terms, understanding coding is essential, and many exhibitors are keen to get young people learning to code, including Studyzone.tv on stand G362, the impressive looking MatataLab – A new hands-on coding robot for kids ages 4-9 on stand B220, and the Coding Adventure by CodeMonkey Studios on stand B420. For educators with access to micro:bit, the coding continuum will be presenting about how Microsoft’s MakeCode.com visual coding platform highlights the transferability of computational thinking and coding skills for students across all subjects (24-Jan-2018, 16:30 – 17:00, Post 16 Theatre).

Back-to-Basics

Immersed with all this technology, it is possible to forget about the essential key skills that are required by young people who need to become assured and proficient writers in the mix of subjects of which they are eventually examined for. The traditional 3R’s are still in vogue, and with all the technological wizardry now on offer, getting the basics right is as important as ever before. Pobble are hosting a talk from Cressida Cowell, the acclaimed author of How To Train Your Dragon, who will be showcasing insights into the writing process, as well as how to spark a love of writing in young people, through creativity and purpose (25-Jan-2018, 14:15 – 14:45, Bett Arena). Technology can support the traditional 3R’s, and Mighty Writer on stand G352 can help transform KS1 literacy almost overnight, but also resources from Pobble certainly can help inspire great writing – find them on stand HUB3.

Robots and Robotics

There are many professions, globally, that are concerned that robots will one day take over their jobs. The teaching profession is not excluded from such a list, but schools not only provide a useful educational purpose but also fulfil a critical social aspect of human lives and opportunity that needs acknowledgement. Yet, robots could provide an important element to an educational package that helps include pupils who may be faced with challenging aspects of life. Morten Jacobsen, a robotics-craftsman & technology scout will be presenting how telepresence robots can improve quality of life for students that can’t attend school due to physical or mental illness. Showcasing a case study of a 12-year-old Danish boy who hasn’t been to school for more than two years but has been beamed in on the robot everyday instead, Morten will be talking about looking beyond the wow factor and instead focusing on the possibilities of this disruptive technology (27-Jan-2018, 12:15 – 12:45, Bett Arena). If you’re interested in Robotics, then a visit to Modern Robotics on Stand E440, or the Robotics uArm Swift Pro-Robotic Arm from UFactory on stand C139 may be worthy of your attention, as maybe the chance to meet Fable from Shape Robotics on stand B55 (see video below).

So, what are you looking forward to see at BETT2018? Scroll down to add your comments, and we hope to bump into you at the show.

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About @digicoled 277 Articles
Colin Hill - Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.

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