This January I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the BETT show again, keeping up my consecutive run of visits for the fourth year. I stopped by on Friday for around four hours to get an idea of what sort of technologies are making headway in education this year and to generally keep my finger on the technological pulse. Quite typically, a bulk of the stands were targeting the Primary and Secondary sectors, although some were quite universally positioned, with potential for HE. As usual though, education was the focal point.
What seemed to be very popular, aside from the usual array of learning software this year, was 3D printing- there seemed to be an array of 3D printing and laser cutting kit around every corner! A pattern I have also noticed over my years of attendance is a progressively more accessible approach to computer networking, with companies such as Cisco Meraki showcasing their latest offerings this year. With an increasing uptake of more powerful and larger scale networks in the education sector, it looks like their management tools and devices are becoming much more user friendly and intuitive – a stark contrast to the command line era of not so long ago.
It is always inspiring to see how technology persists in solving (and not just causing!) problems in the learning environment. As teaching and learning practices change, it is great to be able to witness how technology evolves to bridge the gaps. To give an example, I came across the PersonalProjector stand, who had a very impressive range of (you guessed it) projectors, which have vastly improved in the years I have been coming to the show.
The new ‘Pico’ size has come about with the massive burst in growth of the smart phone market. You can now buy projectors that your smart phone slots into, then beam out the screen to wherever you care to aim. The ‘palm’ size projectors have come on leaps and bounds, with improvements such as HD resolution display capability, higher lumen count, and the ability to wirelessly stream content from your mobile device. Combine these portable projection systems with a tablet and they have the potential to transform an empty room into an interactive teaching space.
Visualisers have been given a new lease of life, being used more regularly to facilitate a growing demand for coursecasting in all its forms.
As expected with the growth of tablets in the education sector, there are plenty of accessories being made progressively more inexpensive and readily available for mobile devices with a variety of cases, charging bays and capacitive styli to list a few. As I was quite tight on time and wanted to explore the stalls as much as possible, I only caught brief segments of talks that were being given in the BETT Arena and other demo areas. However, videos of all the main events are usually distributed on the BETT website a few weeks after the show’s end.