Wednesday 13th January sees this year’s BETT Show roll into town. Housed within London’s cavernous Olympia and playing host to 600 exhibitors and almost 30,000 visitors, BETT is the largest educational technology conference in the world.
Every year BETT gives teachers and those involved in education the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of learning through technology. We will be there, catching up with friends, partners and clients – and investigating some of the new developments at the start of an exciting new decade for ICT in education.
The central theme that seems to be coming out of the build up to BETT 2010 is playfulness. Professor Stephen Heppell will be running a new feature at the expo entitled ‘Playful Learning’ – an interactive area where visitors can immerse themselves in educational gaming at its best and use fun technology to overcome learner engagement issues.
Prof Heppell points out that “survey after survey suggests that our UK schoolchildren may be some of the least happy in Europe” and thinks he has the solution: “Playful learning is great fun and has re-energised classrooms, rekindled school-parent relationships and re-engaged brains.”
Other new features for BETT 2010 include the Future Learning Spaces area, which will give visitors a glimpse of what classrooms could look like in several years’ time, and TeachMeet Takeover – thirty minute slots when vendors hand over their stalls to informal, teacher-led discussions.
BETT 2010 looks set to reflect the trends and developments of the past year. The last twelve months has seen the continued rise of social media, and particularly the explosion of Twitter into the mainstream. There has been a degree of acceptance that these media are valid forms of communication for children and young people, with suggestions that they can improve confidence and literacy.
The prominence of these topics is reflected in the seminar programme at the event. Other significant issues of the past year include augmented reality (AR) and eSafety. The former is represented by Futurelab’s Spark, a mobile exhibition which uses 2D AR markers to enhance pupils’ experience in the classroom. Meanwhile Roar Educate’s Us Online seeks to educate pupils on safety, security and good citizenship in the online world.
The Government’s Home Access scheme is being formally launched at BETT 2010. A trial of the scheme – which will seek to remedy the ‘digital divide’ by providing 270,000 low income homes with computers and internet access – “went like a rocket” according to Becta, the government agency in charge of it. The scheme is exciting news for all those working with ICT in education – but it is likely to cause controversy given the state of the economy as a general election approaches.
We will be helping our good friends at QCDA. Since last year’s event we have been working hard together on mycurriculum.com, a website which allows teachers to connect and collaborate with each other by discussing best practice and sharing resources, activities and examples of pupils’ work. QCDA will be showcasing the site on two of their four ‘pods’ so come and check it out at Stand J30.
See you there!