So Claire, what did you think of Bett? Was the question I was asked, when I got back to the office. In my years working in learning technology, I had never been before. To be honest, I was disappointed and it was for the following reasons,
- I struggled to navigate the website and explore the exhibitors. I couldn’t figure out how to favourite stands or plan a route online!
- I had never been to Bett before and I am still not sure what the aim of the conference is. Well I know, it is an Educational technology exhibition, but it seems to be aimed at everyone in every sector and covers every aspect – not helpful. It seemed to be aimed at School teachers and leaders.
- I was disappointed in the type of exhibitors. Some exhibitors were grabbing me as I walked passed, but were openly disappointed when I said I was from HE!! 🙁
The Higher Education learning technology chat seems recently to be focused on the ‘next generation learning environments’ and exploring what sector leading might look like. I was hoping to see something truly innovative and ground breaking or even something that made me say – we need this! There was nothing that lit a spark. There were no HE mainstream providers, that I am used to seeing, so I suspect the majority of stands were smaller vendors (with the exception of the large hardware companies)
- The odd applications and software that did seem interesting were not scalable. It seemed they were used to selling a limited number of licences to a school or department. When asking how they would scale for a whole university or integrate with the VLE, they seemed to be less confident.
I was interested to see that there were lots of vendors still selling and promoting interactive whiteboards (hardware and software) I thought there was maybe a trend away from this type of technology particularly the software. However, if the schools are still using the technology, it would be interesting to review the University position on Whiteboards and pedagogic practice they support.
Microsoft had a huge presence at the conference, but their stand was incredibly busy. On reflection I should have dug out the Microsoft programme and battled the crowds to attend some of their sessions.
I don’t think I will be hurrying back to Bett unless I was involved in a classroom technology project, but it was good to see all the technology that is available to schools and it has made me think about the digital expectations our students might have as they arrive at University.