Another year, another BETT show. This year was my 8th BETT show in a row, and after 4 action-packed days in the Excel Centre, here are my top 5 takeaways from the show.
1. Augmented and Virtual Reality
You didn’t have to walk far before you came across an excited crowd of educators waiting for their turn on a VR headset. The engagement factor is certainly there when it comes to VR and its hard not to smile when you’re flying over London in the cockpit of a Red Arrow jet or visiting the Pyramids of Ancient Egypt. ClassVR stole the show with a little help with the ‘Back to the Future’ DeLorean they brought along, but also noticeable shoutouts to RedBox VR and Immersive VR who are doing interesting work around curriculum engagement with this technology.
However, VR headsets come with a price tag, and it is Augmented Reality (AR) that has the greater potential to impact schools in the short term (at least) due to affordability. Twinkl showcased their new primary coding app, placing you in control of Little Red Riding Hood as you guide her through a series of increasingly challenging augmented reality mazes. Downloadable as a free app and compatible with the majority of tablets already in schools, it is sure to be a huge success.
2. Cloud platforms are becoming the norm
Moving to cloud platforms was a hot topic this year. Management Information System (MIS) providers such as Arbor, Bromcom and ScholarPack all grew their presence over last year, all the more interesting when Capita SIMs sat the event out. Data connectors such as Wonde, Assembly and Groupcall were all prominent at BETT, a good sign for the continued movement towards improved data transparency and accessibility throughout UK education.
Learning By Questions was a big winner of BETT, quite literally by taking home the BETT Innovator of the Year Award, well deserved in how they’ve demonstrated how new technology can so directly and significantly impact in the classroom.
3. Broadening horizons
A good addition to the show has been the growing International focus, now packaged into country zones. Having been fortunate enough to work outside of the UK education system, I’ve always found it valuable to see how other countries approach edtech. At the show, it was interesting to see how South Korea teach robotics in primary schools, how Scandinavian countries are utilising machine learning/automation to tackle administration workload, and how France approaches additional language learning. I’m sure this will be a growing component of future BETT shows and I’d highly recommend checking out these zones next year.
4. Classroom content is still highly relevant
There were a number of digital content / educational publishing companies present at BETT this year. With far fewer hardware suppliers exhibiting this year, this could reflect that rich and engaging classroom content is still a missing piece for many educators. Are students becoming more challenging to engage or are workload pressures felt by teachers beyond our own shores? Whatever the reason it was interesting to see the latest in digital, classroom-ready learning resources from companies such as Classoos, Mathigon, and many others.
5. Non-teaching workload pressures recognised
“More than half of teachers’ time is spent on non-teaching tasks, including planning, marking and admin and that workload is one of the most common reasons for teachers leaving the profession,” said Education Secretary Damian Hinds in his keynote speech. School communications (mainly emails), lesson planning, and marking are the three areas in the sights of the DfE’s Workload Reduction Toolkit, and with £10m available to support the use of innovative technology solutions in these areas, the DfE are taking positive actions to support the reduction of workload.
As for our own BETT show, we launched our boclips for Teachers BETA platform, bringing over 1 million educationally rated and curated videos into the classroom through a safe, ad-free platform. If you didn’t catch us at the show we’re giving away lifetime access passes to any teacher signing up for our BETA launch before the end of March.
You can click here to signup.