Speaking at #BETT2017 (and first impressions!)


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Well! What can I say? BETT 2017 has turned out to be a wonderful experience, but then I expected nothing less. Rarely do I have the opportunity to see such an amazing assortment of technological wonders and rarely do I have the chance to mix with a diverse group of enthusiastic educators, industry representatives and entrepreneurs. Bett 2017 has a lot to offer and it makes one realise that education is only just scraping the tip of that proverbial iceberg.

My day started early. I had an exhibitors badge as a HP Partner, as well as a HE Leaders badge, so I was able to get into the hall before the doors opened at 10am. This provided the ideal opportunity to look around and to play with some of the technology before the mass of people arrived. Immersive technologies are the obvious theme this year. There was a range of virtual reality and augmented reality headsets on offer. I’ll be blogging about those in due course, so watch this space. I could not escape the abundance of screens, both projected and otherwise, on offer. Some of these were interactive and others were not, yet I could see an educational application for them all. The price (of course) remains the barrier to integration within the classroom and not the enthusiasm of teachers.

From a futurist perspective, there is an obvious instructional trend apparent in every aisle. 3D printing and maker spaces, blended learning, personalised learning, project based learning and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) / vocational \ technical and modular learning are the key areas on which educational technology seems to be focused today, with immersive technologies and mixed reality around the corner. I have accepted an invitation to do some work on VR and Mixed Reality over the coming months, so I’m quite excited about that.

I was delighted to present at the HP and Intel stand, talking about the Digital Schools Awards and primary education. My session was recorded and I’ll share it once it’s available from the media team. Following this, I spent a few hours in the Higher Education Summit, listening to a number of speakers. I was particularly impressed with Matt Zellor, a Product Manager for Microsoft Hololens. He delivered a great presentation and I have a few follow up activities to attend to on the back of his input. The rest of my afternoon was spent in conversation with people around the hall, sampling the exhibits (I have discovered that most of the technology is bolted down) and meeting with a few friends and colleagues. Networking with others is probably the best thing about these events. In reality, we are a small community and one tends to see the same names appear time and again.

I’ll be back tomorrow, so if you missed my session, I’ll be speaking again at stand D200 from 11am, before catching a flight back to Glasgow. Sadly, I won’t be around on Friday or Saturday, but my colleague Dr Victor McNair, a fellow DSAS Programme Validator, will be presenting at 11am for the second half of BETT.

I’ve taken a few photos and I’ll share them on my BETT 2017 page once I get back home.

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