Bett 2014 – technology at our fingertips

A preview of the 2014 BETT show, which runs from 22-25 January at ExCel London: the global meeting for the education technology sector

In recent years, education technology has evolved at a prolific rate. The increased use of mobile devices, the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes, the impact of social media on learning and the dominance of wireless capabilities, are just some examples. According to recent research by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), ICT expenditure in 2014 will be higher in cash terms than at any other time on record.

To help schools ensure the greatest return on investment and to stay on top of all technological developments, Bett returns in 2014 marking its 30th anniversary as the world’s leading event for learning technology. As a source of advice and guidance for using technology in education, and a place to source the latest and most innovative educational technologies and resources, the event attracts more than 35,000 visitors each January.

With its ‘try and test’ experience, visitors can find interactive demonstrations, free guidance and advice on all the latest and greatest products and services. More than 700 exhibitors from worldwide corporations to smaller, more specialist companies, use the four days of Bett as an opportunity to demonstrate their newest and most ground-breaking ideas and innovations. In one day, visitors can meet with various suppliers of a specific product or service, evaluate each and ask all the questions needed to ensure they have made the most informed decisions.

For instance, new robotics platform VEX IQ from VEX Robotics on stand F240 is designed to transform STEM learning for young students and teachers. Mapped to the new design and technology and computing curriculums across Key Stages 2 and 3, it is designed to provide a less clinical way of teaching language programming, giving students a physical output that allows them to see the nature of their work. Educators can utilise the free VEX IQ curriculum to help teach them valuable lessons and skills that are needed in today’s changing world.

Introducing a new way to make music on stand B461, the Beamz Music System transforms classrooms into 21st-century learning environments; students interrupt beams of light to make music, composing and arranging their own original mixes. Beamz Classroom’s music library includes songs from all genres and introduces students to instruments and music styles they may never discover independently.

Educational software publisher, 2Simple, will host award-winning, children’s author Jonny Zucker on its stand D230 to unveil Serial Mash, the innovative collection of digital books he has written to bring literacy to life and engage students. The first two books, are aimed at Primary Years 3 to 6. Much like students’ favourite TV shows, Serial Mash takes a series format, with one chapter for each age group released every week of a half term. The stories can be read on interactive whiteboards, desktops, laptops and tablets.

Recognising a need for quality educational apps, Daydream Education will launch its new curriculum-based apps on stand F450. The apps for primary maths, English and science offer students a source of flexible, independent learning. The fun features and assessment quizzes reinforce the key information and enable users to test themselves on key topics with questions randomly generated and levelled for various stages of development to ensure pupil engagement. The apps also include a simple yet effective reporting function for tracking pupil achievement to help teachers identify pupils’ attainment.

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To help schools get to grips with the new computing curriculum, through a partnership between Switched On ICT developer Rising Stars and Microsoft, all primary schools across England are to receive a pack of Switched On ICT resources in January 2014. This free pack includes a teacher’s hand book with lesson plans and activities included on disks that guide teachers through a range of exciting computing projects, each using Microsoft tools. Rising Stars invites people to stand D118 to chat about best practice use of the resource.

Adding further value for visitors is a rich offering of exciting features and free continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities. The central feature at Bett 2014 will uncover the potential of big data and visualisation in learning with the eminent Professor Stephen Heppell, in association with technology solutions provider European Electronique. As big data continues to transform everything in our lives from health to meteorology, it offers schools and students new opportunities to make learning more effective. Live on stand, school children will explore and statistically analyse live data at the show to discover their own methods for effective learning.

Whether in the grand amphitheatre of Bett Arena or an intimate workshop theatre, the CPD accredited conferences, seminars, workshops and debates are designed to reflect the issues that are most relevant to their delegates.

The Bett Arena is to return with a line-up of inspirational sector leaders, internationally renowned education experts and household names helping discover new approaches to learning. Confirmed speakers include Brett Wigdortz, Teach First founder, who will take the floor to discuss the importance of improving education in deprived areas and share his experiences of the difference that an inspirational teacher can make. Equally inspiring, flipped classroom pioneers Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergman will be in the Arena discussing this new approach to learning. Sams and Bergman will be challenging delegates to consider how learning lessons at home and doing homework in class can work for their school. Other speakers due to present ideas include Toby Young, co-founder, West London Free School; Tony Little, head master, Eton College; and Lewis Wiltshire, director of media partnerships, Twitter.

Two arena sessions not to be missed are the Computing Curriculum Masterclasses, with a primary (2pm, Friday 24 January) and secondary focus (2.30pm, Thursday 23 January). In association with the Computing at School Working Group (CAS), these are the ultimate sessions for preparing educators for the changes to the computing curriculum, with a particular focus on computer coding. Each session will be broken into three sections: an overview of the policy, context and implications for the computing curriculum changes for educators; the chance to learn from a peer school which already has coding successfully embedded; and a 30-minute, hands-on coding workshop using visitors’ own devices.

For those looking to implement new classroom technology, presentations within the Learn Live programme will provide educators with high impact sessions of insightful and inspiring ideas across a broad range of subjects.

Topics to be discussed will include augmented reality learning, Raspberry Pi, e-safety in schools, teaching coding and computing programming, and implementing BYOD.

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