Reducing the digital divide

In January, Bett 2015 will bring together hundreds of exhibitors to showcase the latest developments in learning technologies

The debate about whether significant government investment over recent years has resulted in a digital divide between mainstream and independent education continues. However, what is apparent is the increasing number of educators from the independent education sector visiting Bett, the annual event in London which keeps the education community connected, encouraging conversation and debate.

Research carried out for Virgin Media Business revealed that while over three-quarters of independent school teachers surveyed (76 per cent) use technology in all or most of their lessons, only 15 per cent consider themselves ‘totally computer savvy’.

Because this is true of so many teachers, the vast seminar and conference programme at Bett provides the sector with the training, inspiration and continuing professional development (CPD) that we all crave: and it’s all free of charge. Unlike so many other big events, Bett has thrived over the past 30 years because it is designed with teachers to support and nurture education standards.

In addition to the CPD programme, more than 600 Bett exhibitors are constantly praised by visitors for their ‘give back’ attitude. Unlike most other sectors, the suppliers share teachers’ passion for learning, and spend their time at Bett offering an open dialogue, sharing their knowledge, giving advice and listening to teachers’ needs.

Bett has certainly become an annual source of motivation for teachers to regenerate their excitement for education. Visit www.bettshow.com in order to register for your free attendance in advance and save the queues on arrival. Bett 2015 takes place from 21 to 24 January at ExCel London.

If you are still in doubt, here is very brief insight into a few of the exhibitors and seminar sessions at Bett, broken down by subject area. 

Primary computing

Teaching computer science in primary education is a challenge for many teachers. On stand D230, 2Simple unveils its new 2Code features in Purple Mash to make children’s lives easier and take children’s coding skills to the next level. 2Code is a part of 2Simple’s Purple Mash website so it is easily accessible and enables children to access it from any device (including tablets) that has an internet connection, at school or at home.

At the same time, on D118, Rising Stars will be demonstrating Switched on Computing, offering creative units using the latest free software in a format that is designed for teachers of all levels of experience to pick up and use. Switched on Computing includes programming and computational thinking with a clear progression of skills and supporting teachers of all levels of experience with software demos and detailed step-by-step planning.

EducationCity, on stand D300, will be showcasing its computing module divided into three distinct areas – computer science, information technology and digital literacy. The Code Crunch programming tool is designed to encourage children to explore and understand how code.

Primary and secondary school teachers interested in coding will be interested in the Bett Arena presentation from 1.30-2pm on Wednesday 21 January. The Learner’s Journey: Creating a 99.1 per cent Reliable Breast Cancer Identification Programme is presented by Brittany Wenger who began programming when she was 11 when her imagination was captured by the idea that AI could transcend total human knowledge. When a family member got breast cancer, Brittany threw herself into applying artificial intelligence modelling to improve the breast cancer identification process. By 17 she had created a cloud-based programme which identified a test which was 99.1 per cent reliable, cheaper and less pervasive than existing traditional models. Now studying science, ethics and philosophy at Oxford University, Brittany is a TED alumni, Google Prize winner and a problem child to the theory that young women don’t do tech and STEM. Do not miss this session! 

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Literacy

Fiction Express is a unique platform for publishing fiction, allowing readers to determine the course of the plot. Fiction Express e-books are published in gripping weekly episodes every Friday, and each episode ends with a cliff-hanger, and a number of plot options. The option with the most votes is then passed to the author who writes the next episode, live and in real-time, for Friday publication. The company’s resources help schools to tackle issues such as engaging reluctant readers (especially boys), encouraging reading for pleasure, developing higher level reading skills and, of course, improving literacy. Fiction Express is on stand C543

Best-known for its product Clicker 6, Crick Software will be on stand D210 showcasing its range of inclusive reading and writing software. Add-on resources for Clicker include titles to support modern foreign languages (MFL), phonics and pupils with English as an additional language. Crick has also produced a popular range of Clicker literacy apps for iPad users.

Meanwhile, Petra’s Planet for Schools will be showcasing its engaging and interactive world of social media and global content sharing for young learners on stand E60. The team at Petra’s Planet for Schools will be showcasing the online environment which provides schools with social media strategies which can lead to creative learning and a productive approach to making those skills part of ongoing professional development. 

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)

Visitors to stand F100 will be able to gather advice on providing a safe and effective science and technology curriculum from CLEAPSS. Visitors will experience the launch of its new CLP Hazcards and new safer chemistry procedures website, for use by science teaching staff. This year CLEAPS will be featuring a bigger focus on the design and technology curriculum.

Teachers looking for a dynamic way to teach science should visit Vernier Software and Technology on stand B326 and A310. By putting its easy-to-use data loggers, sensors, experiments and graphing/analysis software into the hands of students, schools can help educators develop the next generation of scientists and engineers. Vernier is also showing its Graphical Analysis for Chromebook and its new line of wireless sensors.

zSpace will have a broad showing at Bett, with a presence on its own stand D284, on the DesignMate stand C352 and also on the Cyber-Anatomy stand C308, showcasing its new Immersive Science Education platform for primary and secondary students.

Students are offered the ultimate immersive learning experience, dissecting human hearts, diving into volcanoes and testing physics outcomes in Jupiter’s gravity. The zSpace Science Lab allows students to visualise, create and experience in ways not possible in a traditional computing environment.

In terms of Bett’s CPD content, Effective STEM education is a seminar delivered in the Bett Arena by the assistant principal of the UCL Academy. The presentation offers a step-by-step guide on how to create an effective STEM environment in schools. The session will be held from 1-1.30pm on the first day of Bett, Wednesday 21 January.

Visitors interested in hearing Mike McGee, co-founder and creative director, of Framestore present his thoughts on ‘Why you should be excited about STEM, STEAM and Future Economies. It’s Not About Science vs. Arts’ should check the Bettshow.com website over the next few weeks to reserve their space at this seminar. Framestore is the VFX company behind the truly groundbreaking ‘Gravity’ film. This session looks at how an uncompromising view of the science and arts married together can produce some of the most exciting results and suggests ways that educators and learners can all get involved. 

Bett 2015, ExCel, London, 21-24 January W: www.bettshow.com

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