Free Travel to BETT 2011

CPD No Comments »

(Posted by Fiona)

Happy New Year! Would you like to visit BETT 2011 to see the latest developments in educational technology but can’t afford the train fare? The good folks at Osborne Technologies are offering free coach travel for the second year running. The coach will depart from Osborne Technologies office in Barnsley at 6am on Friday 14th January, see the flyer below for full details and how to book:

BETT travel offer

BETT(er) than previous years?

Events, Exhibitions, Festivals, Uncategorized 3 Comments »

(Posted by Dughall)

I always enjoy the annual BETT show at Olympia. As well as being an opportunity to get up to date on the latest developments in educational technologies, it is also an excellent chance to meet, network and catch up with educators who have inspired me virtually or in real life.

This year, though, promises to surpass previous year’s experiences for one fundamental reason – teachers are taking over! By this, I mean that there is a far greater emphasis on ‘learning’. As Ian Usher puts it in his blog:

“During various threads on Twitter about BETT – including a mainly productive one on Tips for (new) visitors to BETT – I opined how BETT would, to my mind, benefit significantly from having an “L” in its title (and core purpose) similar to the one in SLF – the Scottish Learning Festival, which was tellingly formerly titled SETT.”

Well this year it promises to be an ‘L’ of a BETT show with 4 significant ‘fringe’ features:

TEDx OrendaFirstly  TEDx Orenda.

On Wednesday 13th Jan at 6pm there will be a FREE TEDx event with a stimulating line-up of inspirational speakers from diverse backgrounds (from a London cabbie to the man who brought us Moshi Monsters). TEDxOrenda at BETT is an individually organised TED event that epitomises the tradition of TED as a vehicle for ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’.

One thing that is guaranteed is that the speakers will be sharing stories that will be of interest and inspiration to educators from every sector.
More details of the TEDxOrenda event can be found here.
The event is FREE and tickets are available from here.


On Thursday 14th January, there will be a free AmplifiED event, again from 6pm. AmplifiED follows a Barcamp, unconference model and is essentially a participatory event that involves table discussion around topics and themes. In this case, the topics for discussion will be education-based and possibly provoked by the BETT show itself.
More details of the AmplifiED event can be found here.
The event is FREE and tickets are available from here.teachmeetbett2010small

Last year, the highlight of the BETT show for me was the Teachmeet that took place on the Friday evening. It was my first Teachmeet and had a profound impact on me. I blogged about it at the time.

This year, on Friday 15th at 6pm a similar Teachmeet event will take place. For those unfamiliar with the Teachmeet format, it is an event that consists of short (2min or 7 min) presentations given by practitioners. These presentations are about great ideas and what works well in the classroom.
More details of the Teachmeet event can be found here.
The event is also FREE and although there are no formal ticketing arrangements, you are encouraged to sign up to the wiki (above).


Finally, Teachmeet ‘Takeover’ will be happening throughout Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In a nutshell:

What is TeachMeet Takeover?

  • Short time slots of 30 minutes or less on vendor stands throughout the course of the show.
  • Teachers taking over – no affiliation to the vendor or obligation to help sell their products.
  • Education professionals talking about FREE ideas.
  • Informal presentations of good, quality ideas that you don’t need to pay for.
  • Vendors sign up for time on a wiki.
  • Educators put their name down in a time slot to talk on the wiki.

Tom Barrett is the chief instigator of Teachmeet takeover and you can find out more on his blog.

If you are going to BETT this year, do try to add a little extra ‘Learning’ to the mix with one, some or all of the above. If not, many of these events will be available through archived video or even live streams from the events themselves.

If you aren’t able to attend in person, watch this space for a post-match report. It promises to be a BE(L)TTER!

BETT 2009 (Again)

Exhibitions, Uncategorized 1 Comment »

(Posted by Dughall)

BETT Tiltshift

(Image modified with tiltshiftmaker)

My impressions from BETT are similar to Fiona’s (below). The multi-touch tables definitely had the ‘wow’ factor and certainly drew the crowds. However, I was left wondering what the technology actually ‘added’ to the experience. Most of what I saw demoed could have been done as easily with actual cards/papers on an actual (analogue) desk!

Once again 2-Simple pulled a rabbit out of the hat with their 2Do It Yourself software. This wonderful software allows you to create activities, quizzes and games using a very straightforward editor. These save as .swf files and can be inserted into KGfL/DB pages as images. In less than two minutes, I’d created this: test-pairs.swf (I know it looks like 2 mins work!) Content can now be tailored exactly to the needs of your learners and your older children will love creating space-invader type games that can then be posted for their friends to play and evaluate. With 2-Simple, as ever, the name says it all. If you choose to purchase this software, do give me a call if you need support putting things into KGfL/DB.

DB Education also had a stand and were showcasing the new DB Primary interface for users/communities. This new interface is available to all primary schools right now. Please contact me if you would like to know more. We have a few schools in Kirklees that are already using DB Primary and the response has been incredibly positive. Also, DB were launching the KS2 version which is suitably more ‘grown up’ than the KS1 version and is definitely worth considering. Get in touch:

On Friday evening, I attended ‘Teachmeet’ This was an inspiring event at which practitioners names were drawn out of a hat to give either a 7 minute or 2 minute presentation with strict ‘No Powerpoint!’ and ‘No Selling!’ rules (speakers over-running or breaking the rules had a stuffed camel thrown at them from the audience in the ‘shoe-at-George-Bush’ style). I was lucky enough to speak and explained how ‘Henri’ could be used. Henri is a KGfL account that you can use in your school to deliver an e-safety message, alongside other cross curricular themes (again, ask for more details).

Highlights from Teachmeet for me were:

  • Comic Brush used to create comic strips in which the children had translated the original Shakespearian script into txtspk. Comic Brush is a free version of the popular software ‘Comic Life’ (already being used in a few Kirklees primaries and available to download for a free trial from various outlets).

  • A Secondary project about what Shakespeare’s Facebook page would be like.

  • A ‘whizzy’ little application called ‘Zoomit‘ that allows you to zoom in and annotate your computer display.

  • A ‘Learning Event Generator’ that will randomly suggest topics and ways of doing/presenting them. So, if you’d like to see your class produce a mime to explain the water cycle or produce a blues song to explain how a light works, then this is for you.

I was reading on a blog (apologies to the author, I’ve forgotten where) that the BETT show is somewhat cyclicle, with some years being about ‘new’, ‘shiny’ and ‘innovative’ and other years being about ‘consolidation’ and ‘…into practice’. My impression of BETT ’09 is that it was more the latter than the former.


BETT 2009

Exhibitions, Resources No Comments »

(Posted by Fiona)

The highlight of last week was attending BETT 2009 at Olympia. This year I was spared the 5am get up for the morning train as my cousin has conveniently moved into a central London flat, so I travelled down on Wednesday evening – a great improvement! I avoided the usual crush on the tube and got there so early on Thursday morning that I had to attempt sneaking in through the exhibitors entrance (it didn’t work, but I did find a warmer place to wait).My priorities for the exhibition were seeing the multitouch tables in action, new primary software/web content releases, netbooks and furniture for the 21st century classroom.

I started at Smart Technologies with the multitouch table. I was interested to know what one of these devices would add to a classroom, and what content has been developed to use on it. The interactive table has an HP computer running Vista inside it, with Smart software which enables the multitouch function. The table can cope with up to 40 users at the same time, although it would never need to as you can only comfortably fit about 6 people around it. Smart have developed seven applications for it, which teachers can edit: tangram, hotspots (click and drag activities), letters, addition, media (photos etc) and multiple choice. The idea is to create more applications and have an ‘App store’ similar to the iPhone, where teachers can download the ones they want. The main strength of the table is that children need to interact and cooperate when using it, and all agree when a task has been completed. But with the current price tag (around £6000) , there just aren’t enough educational applications for it yet to make it worth the investment.


 The Smart multi-touch table

My next target was Microsoft to see Surface, which was the original multitouch table. Surface has a more grown-up design, and the applications I saw demonstrated were aimed at older children. The applications are being developed by a range of software companies, and as yet are still limited. With this technology it will be a case of waiting for the tipping point when the price comes down and the educational usefulness goes up.


 Microsoft Surface

The best new software I saw was from 2Simple (as usual) and is called 2Do It Yourself. This can be used to create games and activities for the learning platform, or as easy to use games creation software for primary children.

A major theme of BETT this year was that just about everybody from Dell to Samsung now makes Netbooks (mini cut price laptops for internet access and basic Office type functions). Most of the hardware stands had rows and rows of them.

Smart technologies officially released Notebook SE (student edition) which is designed for pupils to open their Smart Notebook files on any machine, work on them, save and carry them to the next computer. It will be available on a special pen drive with a wrist strap. I expected this to be a free download, and was disappointed that Smart will be selling it on the pen drives – price to be confirmed.More information on Bett 2009:

BETT online

Opening speech by Jim Knight MP

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