The one thing about BETT that hits you when you enter the arena is the size of the show. I was talking to one company here, who do lots of USA education shows and they said that even the big USA education shows are half the size of BETT. Once again the established players, Inspiration, Microsoft, and SMART Technologies as well as number of smaller suppliers attended.
This year Microsoft and SMART Technologies went head to head and brought their respective interactive table technologies. The Microsoft Surface, which has been in the making for a while and has only just started to produce units, was on show. SMART Technologies brought their recently announced Smart table. While Smart is leading this battle the main question is with such a high price tag will schools buy into either of them or wait until the price lowers over time.
Software producers Inspiration are at BETT and they are starting to release the details of the next generation of their software. Inspiration is currently beta testing a web version of their software which will hopefully go public later this year.
GovEd were showcasing their innovative interactive posters, which is a hybrid of a traditional poster board with and TV screen embedded into it which can pull live data from the internet. As an example they showed a poster which pulled data from the internet to show live earthquake information which then around it on a printed part of the poster had information on earthquakes. The good thing about the boards is there is a number of pre-prepared content and the ability to add your own feeds and posters to the board. The boards seem to be a good way to have interactive digital systems without going down the full digital signage system route.
Sony was promoting their new range of solutions to help schools make quality content and interactive learning accessible to all. Sony, which has a big presence in the broadcasting market has come up with range of solutions that integrate into one. The idea is that teacher/pupil could create some video content and push it to the central system that can then be edited, stored and then pushed back automatically to another system, such as digital signage software.
“We live in a multimedia age where young people can decide how and when they receive information, depending upon which medium is most effective for them. Each new generation of students has a stronger natural affinity with technology as a learning mechanism than the last, and for that reason, content is key,” explained Hamish Kennedy, Business Solutions Manager, Sony Professional. “We want educational professionals to come and see how much of an enabler today’s technology can be. Innovative and well integrated solutions not only deliver unprecedented levels of engagement, versatility and scalability but they also maintain that crucial level of human interaction.”
The size of the show is amazing but also works against visitors. If you come down for only one day, you will need to plan your time well. But what is very clear is that the best from the educational technology world is here we are seeing the need to discuss how we use new and also the existing technology in the classroom.
Russell Dyas is an IT Professional, Education Technologist, blogger, and public commentator on ICT in education. He has gained a professional reputation from being a Manager at EduGeek.net.