This was a revelationary learning curve and an amazing experience for me as an attendee. To understand why I’m so impressed I have to point out last year in 2016 I attended the BETT conference and wasn’t enthralled or in love with it, in fact quite the opposite. However in hindsight that was mainly due to a series of unfortunate and avoidable circumstances. So wanting to give it another chance I attended BETT once again this year.
To give some perspective, last year we went down to London as a team and it was a case of:
- Jump on a minibus and spend an inordinate amount of time travelling down to London just to feel travel sick all day and then get back onto the same minibus and do the same journey just in reverse. The whole experience lengthened by the road works around Birmingham at the time, it ended up being a long 5am – 11pm working day. Never. Again.
- We didn’t plan anything. There was an app (it liked crashing), maps and guides (people and paper versions) ……we just didn’t bother with any of it and winged the whole conference.
- Only attended one or two seminars (mainly because the time taken to travel meant that we only had a few hours instead of the whole day) and mainly spent time looking around the stalls. This meant a lot of sales pitches and a lot of emails over the next few months.
This year was the complete opposite, it was just me and it was a case of:
- Get the train Wednesday morning, spend all day at the conference and then head to a hotel.
- Woke up Thursday checked out of the hotel, well rested and ready to go, and spent the full day at the conference bright eyed and bushy tailed and got a later train home for a cheaper price.
- Everything was planned. I mean there was an app, maps and guides (people and paper versions) the same as the year before but this time they were all used to their full extent. The people guides/attendants were brilliant; friendly, knowledgable and great with directions. The paper guides were informative and the maps easy enough to follow. The app was great as well, the year before it had a few bugs and crashed a lot, but this year there were no issues, the only fault was on the first day it didn’t update quickly if there were changes to seminar times and places, however it seemed on the second day they’d found a way around it. There was a favouriting system which made it easier to understand which sessions I wanted to attend and plan my time around that.
Listed below is a breakdown of the sessions attended, each day will have a detailed and informative post linked to it (it’s just too much in one Blog post!):
- Secondary Learn Live stage – Using Cutting Edge Technology to Drive the Strategic Leadership of Student Behaviour
- Primary Learn Live stage – Wall to Wall Learning: Developing Collaboration and Showcasing Student Digital Creations
- BETT Stage – HundrED: Bringing Innovation in Education up to Speed
- H.E Learn Live stage- Learning to Fly
- H.E Learn Live stage – How the iPad Contributed Towards a Vision and Plan of Paperless Teaching and Learning Environment
- H.E Learn Live stage – Ensuring Technological Plurality through Effective Learning Design
- H.E Learn Live stage – Transforming Higher Ed with Mircosoft Hololens
- F.E Learn Live stage – Empowering Teachers to Create Bespoke e-learning resources
- F.E Learn Live stage – Digital Storytelling: Engaging Learnings: Developing Digital Literacies
- Secondary Learn Live stage – Flipped Meetings: An Effective, Innovative and Sustainable Approach to Leadership Communication
- F.E Learn Live stage – Blended Learning Consortium.
- BETT stage – Can VR Become a Classroom Reality?
- Microsoft Learn Live stage – Badges and More: An Introduction to Teacher Training and CPD
- Microsoft Learn Live stage – Learning Tools for OneNote
- Microsoft Learn Live stage – Windows 10 in Education
The overriding themes of the whole BETT experience seminars and selling points seemed to be of collaborative working, blended learning and the future of educational technology being heavily intertwined with mixed reality rather than just VR and AR. Even though I reduced time in looking around the stalls which were selling systems, hardware etc there seemed to be a lot more variation compared to the year before. Especially with technology enhanced learning (TEL) examples from other countries including the UAE, Korea and China. Then again that might just be my view from the seminars and stalls I chose to go to.
- Mix it up with educational level – Don’t stick to what you know. Yeah you’re a F.E tutor but what’s good is the wealth of information from other educational levels. For instance in this occasion it was great to see how iPads and the Hololens could reshape the learning process, found in H.E but could easily applied to any educational level (primary, secondary, F.E etc)
- Go as a team – even if it’s just two of you, because to use an old saying, sometimes 2 heads are better than 1. The amount of information can be overloading and it works best if there are at least two of you to understand and process the information differently, you get two view points and a more rounded picture of what the seminars.
- Be open minded – Again this relates more to how the technology, teaching and the learning instances are applied. Don’t think you know it all, there’s always a new angle for the same tech or new tech for the same angle. You might just stumble across something amazing. Like I did in relation to the Office 365 and how to use it from an e-learning angle rather than an IT level.
- If possible go for a few days – You’ll get the most from it if you’re not travel worn, especially coming from outside of London. Cost can be an issue but sometimes you can find the cheaper deals with a stop over than getting the train on the same day (I managed to save a lot of money doing it this way)
- Participate – Ask questions, involve yourself, get into the discussions and be present. It will make it easy, you’ll learn everything you need to know and it makes it easier, don’t feel like a fool better to ask questions then get the wrong end of the stick.
From this experience all I can is I’ll definitely be going to BETT again next year and hopefully some more of the team will be able to join me!