BETT is always a really good couple of days of CPD combined with an opportunity to browse through the latest technology products aimed at education. This year I also had the opportunity to share some of Bolton School Boys’ Division’s approach to technology as well as our approach to e-safety. Being joined on stage by a parent and student was also good, and Monty, 11 was a real credit to the school.
Furthermore, the sharing of practice by other teachers was also once again a highlight of the two days. Whether that was from fellow ADEs on the Showbie stand, in the Apple Solutions village or on the main stage, it is always inspiring to hear from fellow teachers.
Other highlights included:
Meeting the Explain Everything team to discuss the future of classic and also to explore their new features
Finally seeing what the ‘cultish’ Night Zookeeper was all about. I was really blown away by how great the app and resources were for encouraging a love of reading and writing. I almost wish I taught Primary!
Discussing research with UCL, and hopefully making some contacts there to help partner with our Learning Development Group.
Seeing the Vitruali-Tee in action, a great product for learning about human anatomy.
And, I should mention the fantastic @YourHRLawyer who were friendly, funny and offered some good HR advice for schools.
However, I was also disappointed in some other aspects of the products on display, especially some of the VR solutions. I really do believe that VR/360 have great potential in education. My classes have already shown how being immersed into a rainforest actually helps them learn and remember the content, and 360 films such as Clouds over Sidra are really powerful prompts for writing as they develop empathy, allowing students to understand what it is like to be there. The problem with VR in the classroom is that it is either too expensive or it requires students to use their phones, which for many schools is not ideal (although we have worked around this at school). At least 3 solutions were at BETT, which had headsets complete with a built in device, so eliminating the need for the phones. The problem was however, the content. Too much of the content was just a direct replacement and didn’t take advantage of the potential of VR to immerse people into an environment. For example, viewing a 3D geometric shape in VR does nothing better than just holding a physical cube/sphere. so why do it in VR? The majority of these solutions also only worked with the proprietary content, so students cant see any VR or 360 content they create with cameras or in CoSpaces, and you are then forced to maintain a yearly subscription. I really hope to see this content change and improve, and for these solutions to open up and allow student created content.
My other main disappointment was still the proliferation of interactive screens. For me, these are rarely used well and offer little in the classroom. A decent screen/projector and an iPad loaded with Explain Everything can do all of the things, and more, that an interactive screen can do. Plus its a fraction of the cost.
However, I will be back next year, and I hope that we start to see more emerging technologies that are more open to teachers creating and sharing their own content. However, the real value in the show will always be the other teachers sharing and showcasing their ideas. After all, technology is useless unless it is in the hands of skilled practitioners.