January 19 2010

A good BETT: Reflections on this year’s Show

Posted by Freddie in BETT, Blogging, Debate, Education

As the dust settles on this year’s BETT Show, bloggers have been frantically sharing their thoughts on the 2010 instalment of the educational technology behemoth.

More purple...

It was my first time. I had been given many warnings as to the overwhelming nature of an event which brings together 30,000 people amongst more green and purple than a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles convention. But none of the warnings could have prepared me for the sheer scale of BETT.

It was really nice to see mycurriculum.com get a lot of visibility and attention on QCDA’s stand. The website is looking really good now and it was great to see the branding up and demos taking place.

The mycurriculum.com stand

Ray Barker, Director of British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), the trade association for the educational supply industry, identified two major themes of this year’s BETT in an interview with Teachers TV. Firstly, Mr. Barker said that this year’s show was “very practitioner-led”, with a focus on professional development and training for teachers.

Secondly, he emphasized the importance of “pupil voice, learner voice” and of “the kinds of technologies that young people are using.” Google and YouTube both exhibited for the first time this year, and the Playful Learning area seemed to be a big hit too – at least with the students who were taking part in the gaming. Some bloggers have commented that there may have been too much emphasis on the "playful" and not enough on the "learning" here. The pupils certainly weren’t complaining.


Whatever the value of the games exhibited here, this seems to me to be a worthy shift in attitude (if indeed it is a shift in attitude). The potential for fun on show at BETT – from 3D video to "serious"  gaming – is encouraging. Schools have traditionally tended to fear technology, often feeling more inclined to ban new devices than integrate them into the learning experience.

If BETT 2010 does mark, or at least reflect, a greater willingness to blur the boundaries between work and play and to help pupils enjoy learning more, then this can only be a good thing for young people and those children just entering the education system. In fact I rather envy them.

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  • I think what I was trying to say hasn’t come across clearly enough if it seemed to someone that I thought there was too much emphasis on the “playful”. As a primary teacher, I am keen that we increase the amount of playfulness in learning opportunities that we give our children. I’ve been following the work of @olliebray, @dawnhallybone, @jamesashton, consolarium with great interest and will be using consoles for a unit of work later on this term. My disappointment in the playful learning aspects of my BETT visit were more that on some of the stands there seemed to be a lot of games for the games’ sake, rather than demonstrating to colleagues how they could be used to move on learning. I’ve been looking for games that will give my pupils an opportunity to let their imaginations take flight, to provide a context for creative writing, developing descriptive language, that will let us have playful contexts for our maths and problem solving…..I have had some great suggestions from others, eg Mario Karting, Winter Olympics, Professor Leyton, Brain Training – I was hoping that there might be even more suggestions and ideas…. As teachers, that’s what we aim to do – move children’s learning forward by giving them fun opportunities, using them to guide and develop understanding. I might be able to see how play can move learning forward by developing imaginative units of learning – but did the playful learning stands convey that to other colleagues for whom the concept is new or challenging? It’s the examples of real classroom applications that help us to be confident about trying out new ideas when fulfilling our obligations as educators. Not just playing tennis on the wii, as much fun as that is!

    Posted by Jan Webb, 01/07/2013 9:50am (7 years ago)

  • Thanks for clearing that up! Long live play as a learning tool!

    Posted by Jan Webb, 01/07/2013 9:50am (7 years ago)

  • Hi Jan,

    Apologies for the misunderstanding - perhaps my phrasing was misleading.

    By interpreting your disappointment as being derived from an overemphasis on the "playful" at the expense of the "learning", I was attempting to convey the conclusions which you express above. I.e. that some of the play on the Playful Learning stands seemed to be for its own sake rather than as a vehicle for meaningful learning.

    Having said that, my experience of Playful Learning at BETT was a fleeting one – the pupils were there for long stretches of time and it would be churlish of me to judge four days’ worth of activities on a couple of minutes of observation. I am sure that many valuable lessons were learnt by those who spent more time at the stands.

    And from looking at the slides from Ollie Bray’s presentation at BETT


    it seems as though there was a lot of interesting stuff discussed in the seminars as well. Sim Sweat Shop and the Ordnance Survey Map Games seem to have real value for learning – while being good fun at the same time.

    As you say, it is this balance which is so important: between learning and fun, education and innovation. And from the looks of things, plenty of educators are getting this balance just right.


    Posted by Freddie, 01/07/2013 9:50am (7 years ago)

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