Another year, another BETT

It’s been a week of three conferences including, of course, the BETT show. I really enjoyed it, and will be writing about it in more depth in Computers in Classrooms in the very near future. But for now, here are some reflections.

The more the merrier

I was convinced that the show would be relatively sparsely populated, both in terms of exhibitors and visitors. I was wrong. I don’t have the final attendance figures yet, but it was expected to be around 30,000, including around 7,000 from overseas. (Nearly 60 Ministers of Education from other countries came too.)

It certainly seemed crowded: within literally 10 minutes of the opening on the first day, it was packed. Somebody told me that it became very quiet in the afternoon, but I can’t say I noticed. Mind you, I was busy with seminars for much of the afternoon.

Stand-out experiences

This is but a brief list, which I will expand on in a post-BETT special edition of Computers in Classrooms.

Visual Learning

This was the name of the feature associated with Stephen Heppell. Pupils at Lampton School designed a learning environment, with the help of an architect consultant. The stand consisted of elements of that environment. I liked the physical aspects (to a large extent), but what impressed me more was how articulate the pupils were in talking about it and answering questions. I’m always in favour of students engaging in real projects as far as possible,and this was a good example of that process in action.

20 tools in 45 minutes

This was the official name of the seminar I presented, although the actual name became “31 tools in 60 minutes”. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the room, designed to seat 84 people,was packed, with at least 10 people standing and some dozen people having to be turned away – and with only one person leaving before the end. The seminar focused on free and sometimes open source tools which would be of use to an ICT leader or manager, but with alternatives suggested where appropriate in order to address the realities of working in a corporate environment.

Tedx Orenda

This was the name of the event organised by Drew Buddie, in which speakers from a variety of backgrounds and professions gave talks. This was a risky strategy and led to an evening which, like the curate’s egg, was excellent in parts. Some of the talks felt as though they followed the structure “first, I’ll talk about myself, then we’ll talk about my achievements, and then we’ll finish up by talking about myself again”, whereas others were, indeed, quite moving.

Collaborate for Change

Collaborate for Change, or C84C as it became known, was another event in which I was involved, together with Dave Smith and several others (see the wiki for the full list  of sponsors). A cross between a traditional conference, with mini-talks from the front, and an unconference, with a dozen tables from which colleagues could choose to join up to 4 in turn (with 20 minutes at each), this turned out to be brilliant. There was a real buzz in the air, and nobody left until the very end. Even people who had not been able to attend came up to me the following day and said that they’d heard how brilliant it was. To see what you missed if you weren’t there, look at the list of speakers – including Lord Knight, one-time Schools Minister with responsibility for ICT – and table discussions. If you were there, please give us your feedback by a leaving a sticky note on Wallwisher.

Rising Stars reception

Well, not for the drinks so much, but the showing of a new primary scheme of work which has been developed by Havering ICT, Miles Berry and myself – Miles is the author, and has brought to the work his wealth of knowledge of using Scratch and other free applications in the primary classroom, and I am the series editor, which means helping to ensure the level is consistent throughout and commensurate with the assessment requirements of both the National Curriculum and the Assessment of Pupil Progress framework in the UK. I shall be writing about this in the near future. In the meantime, if you would like a sample unit, please email a request to Andrea Carr.

The Visualiser Forum reception

This was a great opportunity for not only those of us involved with the Visualiser Forum but our friends and colleagues also to enjoy a drink and a chat and some nice food. Big thanks to Chris Brittan of AVM Ltd and Dave Smith for organising, and Gary Trotter of Elmo for the stand – hope I haven’t left anyone out!


Of course, the biggest draw of BETT, as with any conference or event, is the people you meet and hear. This year’s BETT was superb from that point of view, and I will be reporting on some of that soon, along with a run-down of the products that caught my eye – again, probably in Computers in Classrooms. As they say in all the best publications: watch this space!

What did you think of BETT? Please join Drew Buddie and me on Tuesday evening at 7pm UK time to share your views.  Here’s a world clock for colleagues who will be outside the UK at the time. The session will be hosted until 8pm, but the room won’t be closed until 9:30pm for colleagues who wish to continue the discussion. Join the Elluminate Live! session. Please note that sessions are recorded.