Wednesday January 18, 2012
Last week saw the return of BETT, the annual event showcasing
the use of technology in education. For us, as usual, it was not
just about the technology - although some of that was pretty
impressive - but more about meeting teachers, and those working in
education, and especially putting faces to Twitter friends.
All change from the Department for
Education secretary Michael Gove, opened the event
with a speech which outlined the government's proposed shake up of
the way in which computer science is currently taught. He called on
attendees to "Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible
in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing
ICT curriculum. Instead of children bored out of their minds being
taught how to use Word or Excel by bored teachers, we could have
11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations".
As several teachers were quick to point out of course much of
the 'future' Mr Gove envisaged, had already come to pass - to take
but one example, pupils much younger than 11 are
writing 2D computer animations and using Scratch from
Mr Gove claimed that this revamp would free up schools to use
curricula and teaching resources that properly equip pupils for the
21st Century, adding that the inadequate grounding in computing
offered by the current curriculum was in danger of damaging
Britain's economic prospects.
As usual, the response to Mr Gove's words was mixed. While the
notion of the 'death of ICT' (long live computer science) was
welcomed among some attendees, there did seem to be some concern
around the Government's attitude to the value of information
technology for teaching and learning across all subjects. There
were also some slightly stronger opinions circling on Twitter but
you can find these yourself…
What caught your eye at BETT?
That is what we asked our colleagues attending the show…
In no particular order the following stood out: a
portable interactive whiteboard, which works with existing
projectors, computers and software to turn any flat surface into an
interactive whiteboard; and bird boxes that come equipped with a
tiny camera (colour during the day and night vision when it's dark)
so that pupils can observe the activities of the birds and their
eggs/offspring within the nest. Inevitably presentations from
the big technology companies drew quite a crowd - three
particularly popular one were how to set up Google apps in schools;
using iPads to plan and deliver teaching; and a presentation by
Microsoft on playful learning.
We were surprised not to see more Games Based Learning on the
stands, although a few resources such as Pora Ora stood out as being ones to watch in
future - of course the fact it's free made it a big hit for us.
One step forward is that social media now seems to be more
firmly accepted as a useful teaching, learning and school
management tool. There seem to be two approaches - the walled
garden 'bespoke' model as epitomised by Edmodo or the 'learn how to
work with existing platforms' which Leon Cych and his colleagues from Social Media for Schools
practise. We're keen to watch this area as we think there's a lot
of potential for teachers, pupils, parents and the wider school
community to communicate and share and develop ideas through these
platforms in future.
Seminars, Teachmeet Takeovers, and Collaborate 4
Unfortunately we were unable to make
Friday night's Teachmeet although eagerly followed the #tmbett12
tweets. We did however take full advantage of the other events at
which teachers were sharing their wisdom.
A common theme at these events was the importance and impact of
blogging in schools. Although many schools now do this, there are
two major figures in the school blogging world - David Mitchell and John Sutton. Between them, there's nothing they
don't know about how and why to do it. John Sutton's TeachMeet
Takeover vividly brought the advantages of blogging to
life. He talked about the engagement generated by opening up
children's writing to a wider audience (in some cases getting
thousands of views from across the world) and the way that it had
enabled some children who had always held back to really get
involved and find their voice. The emphasis was on the importance
of constructive feedback - children, teachers and others giving
praise but also suggesting things for the children to work on and
consider in their writing.
Blogging, and the quadblogging initiated by David Mitchell were
the subject of two excellent seminars on digital leaders. Find out
more here about these seminars on digital leaders
and tools for enaging pupils, teachers and young
Collaborate 4 Change
for those who haven't come across it is another format for teachers
to share ideas. It includes table sessions, facilitated by
presenters from the floor - be it schools, commercial providers or
students, or even over video conference live from another country.
There were approximately 30 topics to choose from this time
including Using technology to get children reading, Social
Networking for Schools, Mind mapping and Video Conferencing. It
was, as usual, an insightful evening, with many dynamic
discussions. As soon as we can get hold of the links/ follow up to
the event we'll post them here.
Find out more about BETT - other blogs and write-ups to
It's now been officially announced that next year, BETT will be
moving both geographically and temporally. No longer, at the start
of the year, BETT 2013 is to be held from 30th Jan - 2nd
Feb 2013 at ExCel London.
But if you want to find out more about BETT 2012 here are some
of the best blog posts we've come across so far (well, all but the
first one on the list).
My first attempt at a
posterous blog from Sophie Bessemer - check out the dodgy
Oliver Quinlan's BETT blog - an absolute
winner, and master of the photo blog art
Live blogs from seminars
and teachmeet sessions - another excellent record from Oliver
and highly recommended
Whiteboard Blog BETT round up part 1 - thorough as
Whiteboard Blog BETT round up part 2
BETT 2012 by Claire Lotriet - highlights
benefits of personal interactions; and she brought her pupils!
Ian Addison's Day 1 write-up - another with
some great stories of his pupils experiences; keep checking
this blog as he'll be adding to it
Diary of a
BETT first-timer from Alex Bellars
Reflections on BETT 2012 from Mr Jones
Bee-it - 4 days of BETT from a
What have we missed? Let us know if you've got a good
BETT follow-up blog post that we can link to.