Coming together to celebrate innovation

Exhibitors working from across the learning technology sector will be showcasing their wares at this month’s Bett 2015 event

Technology continues to have a powerful impact on the education sector as new developments offer increased access and improved learning experiences for students across the world. Taking place at the ExCel in London from 21 to 24 January, this year’s Bett event offers the chance to find out more about the latest advances in learning technology and innovation, with a focus on enhancing access to education. 

Bett Arena

There will be a number of speakers taking to the stage to share their expert advice on how to innovate in the world of education. In the Bett Arena, sessions will be led by Nicky Morgan, education secretary, and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. Morgan will be kicking off the speaker sessions with a ministerial keynote speech and welcome, whilst Jimmy’s session will be focused on ‘The new paradigm of open access to information’. This will be followed by a discussion of ideas from a range of experienced teaching professionals and educators. 

Learn Live

On the first day, in the Schools Learn Live Arena, there will be a session which looks at the free professional development programmes available in ICT for teachers and school leaders, led by Christina Preston from non-profit membership organisation, MirandaNet Fellowship. On the same day, ‘The transformative classroom: guiding the mobile learning evolution’ will see visitors given the chance to join AirWatch by VMware’s Preston Winn, director of education business development (VMware are exhibiting on stand C370A), and a panel of educators discussing strategies and best practices on how to empower instructors.

Another seminar worth dropping in on is ‘Technology in early years’ by Emily Thompson, new technologies co-ordinator at Fairlands Primary School, who will be tackling the need to appropriate the introduction and embedding of technology in early years teaching. 

Who can you meet at the show?

On stand number SN63 are the award-winning Junior Learning, first-time exhibitors at Bett. They’ll be showcasing Touchtronic Letters for iPad, which uses a colour-coded keyboard and an associated app to encourage a multi-sensory and tactile learning environment. China-based interactive whiteboard specialists Xiamen Interactive Technology (C535) will be talking about their innovative touchscreen whiteboard product, INTECH, which allows up to 10 people to interact with the technology at any one time.

Inner Geek Education (C547) will be showcasing its StudySmart product, which offers on-demand access to web-based, interactive GCSE classroom resources, including self-marked lesson starters, homework activities, video lessons with full teachers’ notes and interactive whiteboard revision videos. On stand E334, there will be a free demonstration of what Teachers2Parents’ behavioural management system, SchoolPod, can do and how it can help support students with severe learning difficulties. Ireland’s fastest-growing education-technology start-up, VS School MIS, also known as School Thing (E320), will be demonstrating its school management information system, developed specifically for the desktop-less IT environment. 

New for 2015

This year Bett has announced the launch of a new project, Futures, a platform to nurture innovative education technology start-ups. The project is being run in association with the Education Foundation and involves a panel of educators selecting the 30 new businesses with solutions that will have the most impact on education. The selected businesses will then be offered a choice of two bespoke packages based on their market status, involvement in a range of Bett fringe events, specialist business support and extensive marketing resources. Some of the start-ups and speakers in the Futures area at Bett include emerging start-up Loopy Computy (BFS2), a business set up to help primary schools teach computing. Founder Dan Warner is committed to nurturing “joyful lifelong learners, inventors and creators” through innovative programming and blogging courses. Another emerging start-up exhibiting is now>press>play (BFS9), an educational resource that uses sound, story and technology to engage children. This involves putting on wireless headphones and being immersed in sound so children can become a character in a story, meet people, discover places and solve problems. 4D Creative (BFG8) is an award-winning company with 25 years’ experience in the education sector, specialising in the creation of immersive experiences using space, projection, light and sound. 

Bett speaker: Maggie Philbin

Most people know Maggie from her work on ‘Tomorrow’s World’ and ‘Bang Goes The Theory’. In 2008 she created TeenTech, an interactive science and engineering event for teenagers which was awarded Best Engineering Event by the British Science Association in 2010. TeenTech now run large-scale events in 12 regions of the UK. In 2012 Maggie set up the TeenTech Awards which encourage teenagers to work with industry and academia on projects to make life ‘better, simpler and easier’ in categories identified as key industries of the future.

On 24 January, Maggie will be taking to the Bett Arena stage to present her session, ‘Understanding the five key areas for successful “digital” schools’. She will be joined by the Young Digital Taskforce. Maggie will also be joining an expert panel to discuss the historical contributions of women in STEM industries in a seminar called ‘Girl geeks – inspiring girls to pursue STEM subjects’. This will take place in the Futures area at 1.55 pm on 24 January. 

Bett speaker: Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson PhD is a recognised leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation. The videos of his 2006 and 2010 talks to the TED conference have been seen by an estimated 200 million people. He works with governments in Europe, Asia and the USA, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies and some of the world’s major cultural organisations. In 2005, he was named as one of Time/Fortune/CNN’s ‘principal voices’ and in 2003, he received a knighthood for his services to the arts. Ken will be taking to the stage at 4.15 pm on 23 January to present his session ‘Out of our minds: learning to be creative’, which looks at how national education systems are being reformed worldwide to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Ken will also be delivering this year’s closing speech, ‘Creating a legacy of change’, at 2pm on 24 January. 

Bett speaker: Nicky Morgan

Nicky Morgan, education secretary and minister for women and equalities, will speak at Bett and give visitors an insight into the themes for change she has planned for UK schools and colleges. Her address will outline her vision across critical educational policy areas, the school curriculum, school improvement and the establishment of academies and free schools.

She says: “I am really looking forward to visiting and opening Bett 2015. We should all be proud that the largest and best attended educational technology event in the world happens in London and I hope that many schools and colleges will come along. Events like Bett are a great opportunity for teachers to keep up to date with the latest developments and learn how they can be used to maximise educational benefits in schools.” Morgan’s address will be on 21 January at 11am and she will also be touring the exhibition.

Alternative policy approaches will come from Tristram Hunt, the shadow secretary for education. 

Bett 2015 is free to attend and takes place from Wednesday 21 to Saturday 24 January 2015 at ExCeL London W:

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