I’m really looking forward to my second visit to BETT next week. Last year I went for the Saturday only, which was great, but not really long enough to get the full experience. I also found that many of the people I wanted to meet up with were only there during the week, so this year I’m there for a couple f days, with the bonus of meeting up with an old friend on Friday evening.
Having adopted a bit of a scattergun approach last year, this year I am going to plan which stands I would definitely like to visit:
AB Tutor – This is something I looked at last year at Bett. AB Tutor, and a number of similar offerings enable you to remotely manage students’ desktops. You can see from one console what they’re doing, freeze or takeover screens or push content out to screens. As a classroom management tool I can see the benefits, but I am concerned that it might be too administratively heavy.
BCS – Simply to keep across industry developments.
Bloodhound – I’ve been following the Bloodhound project for years. For those that haven’t, the BLoodhound SSC project is aiming to break the land speed record with a super sonic car (SSC) designed to top 1,000mph. They are using the project as a launchpad for a huge variety of STEM activities in partnership with schools and colleges throughout the country. I’m interested in seeing if there are any projects I could introduce to our school.
ClassVR – Having recently experienced Google Expeditions, this will be an opportunity to have a look at an alternative solution – quite how they can compete with the mighty Google’s free solution, I’m not sure, but they’re promising a free VR headset so I think I’ll see if I can find out…
Erase All Kittens – This is a must visit stand. Erase All Kittens (EAK) is the most bonkers coding site I’ve ever been on. It’s designed to bridge the gap between block and text based programming so children can smoothly into using ‘real’ code. It does using a fantasy based narrative which engages girls whilst not alienating boys – a clever trick. If the whole premise of the site isn’t mad enough the characters certainly are, how about a half mermaid, half unicorn with flowing blond hair called Tarquin? Behind the weirdness there’s some real substance – backers include gaming big-hitter Ian Livingstone and ex-Labour Schools Minister Lord Jim Knight.
I’ve used the demo versions in school for the last couple of years, but they have now released the first paid version. I’m looking forward to seeing what additional features they have included and how they will be pricing it for schools.
Explain Everything – This is one of my favourite iPad apps and, in my view is an essential app for primary schools. It’s unusual in that it can be equally useful for students and teachers. I will be looking to see what they are showing this year, and what plans they have for the future, particularly around licensing, where I understand they are making some significant changes.
GBM – A good chance to catch up with our preferred Apple reseller to see what they, and Apple have in the pipeline.
Google for Eduction – Not long after our extremely enjoyable session with Google Expeditions, I’m looking forward to seeing what Google will be showcasing. In particular I would like to see what scope there is for using Google Classroom for shared devices in a primary setting.
Internet Matters – Obvioulsy a massive issue for anyone who is involved in schools in any capacity, but in my role as ICT co-ordinator this is top of my priority list. I’m particularly looking for resources which will encourage and support greater parental engagements so messages from school are being re-enforced at home.
Kahoot – Another must have iPad app, Kahoot has been a huge success at our school, even amongst technically reluctant teachers. It will be good to see how they see Kahoot and what their future plans are.
Lego Education – Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of lego? However, this visit will be purely for professional reasons, you understand.
Makeblock – A bit left field, this one. I was lucky to get a Codeybot for christmas. This is a programmable robot which was developed through a crowd funded project. It’s now been on the market for about three months, but there is very little in terms of support materials online. I will be seeking assurances of their support and commitment to this product in the future.
Microbit – I’m keen to find out what’s happening with the Microbit. From what I’ve seen it’s got huge potential, but the project has been beset with delays, to the extent where my duaghter, who was in year 7 last year didn’t get one. I think it’s something we could utilise in primary, so I’d like to see if they share my view.
Minecraft – One of my aims for this year is to start using Minecraft education throughout the curriculum, not just in computing. I would like to understand more about what the education version offers and how it could be used in the classroom. Last year I attended a brilliant session by Stephen Reid (@ImmersiveMind) – if he’s there again I will definitely try to see him.
Raspberry Pi Foundation – As a relatively newly qualified Raspberry Pi certified educator I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to show at Bett. I’m hoping to get a small suite of Raspberry Pis in school, so will be looking for some simple starter projects.
UKEdchat – I have had a number of blog posts re blogged on UKEdchat and have had an article published in their magazine as well as being a regular contributor to #UKEdchat but have never actually spoken to any of their team face to face. This will be a good opportunity to put some names to faces and look for opportunities for more collaboration in the future.
In addition to all the above stands, there are also some general areas I am interested in. I am particularly interested in how I can introduce more physical computing and robotics, but on a very limited budget, so will be looking for ideas and inspiration in that area. I am also keen to get a 3D printer into our school – I think this would be a great way to combine computing and DT.