Spent most of today at BETT in Olympia, I've never been before so didn't know what to expect. well for a start it's massive - both of Olympia's Halls full, plus both galleries, plus some side rooms. Lots of different areas - Playful Learning, Future Learning Spaces, and Special Education Needs just a few of them. Many hundreds of exhibitors of educational technology.
Some themes/highlights for me included:
- An emphasis on safety and security. Lots of stuff around security - web filtering, safe searching, detection of cyberbullying. Something that's very important in schools.
- Biometrics - a very good demo of a device which recognises the pattern of veins in your fingers (which I didn't even know was unique) to identify you
- Facial recognition software - to be used in classes instead of taking registers, and to detect latecomers!!
- Lots of green themes - apparently I saw the only environmentally certified interactive whiteboard in the world!
- Masses of different sorts of displays - huge interactive plasma screens, whiteboards, video walls and even 3D interactive projectors
- Future learning space design with some very exciting use of space with innovative IT and furniture layouts
- Some excellent learning packages, and it was interesting to see how much gaming is having an influence on design. The Playful Learning section was my favourite - even Lego had a stand - we should do more exciting and playful learning in Universities I think!
I spent sometime at the Microsoft stand looking at demos of Office 2010, particularly the web apps which look impressive, and I was initially impressed by the video conferencing app which JANET were promoting, until I was told that it was a windows only app.
The exhibition was definitely worth attending, and certainly opened my eyes to how much great and innovative technology schoolkids are being exposed to, and how that will be influencing their expectations when they come to University. No wonder they think our VLE is clunky!