BETT 2013

BETT this year was held at the EXCEL centre, a truly ginormous exhibition hall in docklands, London. It was a much better venue than Olympia, with much more space to go and get a coffee and sit down, as well as space in one big hall for all the exhibitors. The transport links are also great – it was just a short DLR ride from my school.

It was also a much better event. There seemed to be a lot more on offer, rather than just loads of options for interactive whiteboards. The mobile revolution was also being consciously acknowledged, with most people offering some sort of iPad solution to their product.

One particular find of the day was bit of school furniture which could charge 16 or 32 iPads. It is only a slightly more engineered version of what I’ve been doing with IKEA cabinets and 8-way power adapters, but it does have a more robust locking mechanism and also prevents people walking off with USB charging cables (which seems to be happening quite a bit at the mo!). It’s from a company called ISIS and you can have a look at it here. And they quoted me a bargain price of £450!

It was also fun to watch some Apple Distinguished Educators talk through some different ways of using iPads. It was good to hear them talk about the innovative apps but also the more mundane ‘write up your science experiment in Pages’. You’ve got to start somewhere!

This year at BETT there was also a big arena where you could go and listen to different speakers presenting in the middle. We went to see a presentation on the ‘Flipped Classroom‘. It’s an interesting idea really, where instruction is given by video to the students at a different time (maybe at home) and then the lesson is used to support students in the learning they have already been doing. Something to look into more.

All in all, I left BETT feeling like it had been a very useful day, which was a nice change from last year!

’twas the week before BETT

We’re off to BETT on Wednesday, the annual ICT in Education trade fair. I wasn’t overly impressed with it last year, mostly because it seemed to be mainly about interactive whiteboards. I’ll be interested to see how much of a conspicuous appearance the iPad will make, considering it is revolutionising ICT in schools at a furious pace. Apple have long since pulled out of such shows, but I know that several big Apple resellers will be there. The iPad demonstrations at people like Toucan’s stand were certainly very crowded!

Seriously though, I’m interested to see how iPad storage solutions have developed and if there’s anyone talking about 1:1 iPad deployments. Such fun!

I’d also like to see how the Google chrome book experiment is shaping up the in the UK and if there is much interest in Windows 8 tablets.

Such fun!

BETT Brewings

Just got back from BETT so thought I would share some of my observations and thoughts.

  • Insane numbers of new ‘Interactive Whiteboards’ were on offer. Some boasted the ability to interact on any projected surface, others were just enormous touchscreen LCD displays. Perhaps the ‘SMART’ stranglehold is loosening? Certainly the market seems ripe for disruption.
  • Many stalls were running Macs, even if not particularly selling Apple products. Saw quite a few Keynote presentations running too…
  • iPads seemed to be the prize of choice in competitions.
  • Not a huge amount of software on sale but certainly lots of ‘cloud’ or web offerings.
  • Multiple laptop/iPad trolleys/flight cases. Expensive though!

We also visited several demos of iPads and what you can do with them. There are lots of cool apps out there that I didn’t know about so will hopefully get to try them out soon. 1-1 deployment seems to be the holy grail, but many schools are settling for a class set that can be shared around a school. The demos were not always of the highest quality though; perhaps I’m spoilt by watching too many flawless Stevenote software demos?

Wireless access for iPads is an important consideration as well. Running a couple of devices from a cheap wifi point is one things, but 30 devices trying to access the network is a whole new ball game. It seems like it is very easy to spend £10k on doing the job properly! Needs more research…

I am interested what else I’ll learn at the Apple Education Summit tomorrow. It will certainly be fun to try things out!

On my way to BETT

Well, I’m currently on the train on the way to BETT. I’m not really sure what to expect, but it should be an informative and enjoyable day. I’ll post some thoughts later.

Here’s what I’m particularly interested in:

  • Ways of deploying and using iPads
  • What 2Simple have got to say about their shocking lack of support for native Mac apps
  • Any Windows 8 news
  • If anyone is talking about ICT assessment
  • More interesting ways of using a VLE. Fronter is still very underused in our school – are there better ways or platforms out there?

I’ll keep you posted (hurrah for WordPress’ iOS app!

BETT on Wednesday

I and some others from my school are off to BETT on Wednesday. What is BETT I hear you say? Well, it’s basically an enormous technology in education trade fair show thingy with all the great and good (and bad and ugly) from the world of IT there to pitch their wares (apart from Apple, of course, as they don’t do trade fairs no more). I have no idea what the acronym ‘BETT’ stand for though.

In preparation for this no-doubt exciting and fun-packed day, I’ve been having a look through the list of exhibitors to see who is worth investigating. I am personally interested in finding out more about how useful iPads really could be in a school. My friends at Toucan have put together an iOS app with details of their stall, with lots of information about ways to use iPads. You can download it for free from the app store.