I’ve been updating my unofficial guide to Bett. This list of things to do before the Bett show are adapted from that. Although I've written the list with Bett in mind, most of the points will apply to getting ready to go to any conference.
A note for those with pacemakers
If you wear a pacemaker you should ask your doctor whether it's safe for you to go to the Bett show, given the amount of wi-fi there will be there.
Book in advance
Register online. Doing so will save you time when you get there.
Specially for visitors…
If you are coming from abroad, but also if you live in the UK but outside London, have a look at the “Getting there” page for travel and accommodation information and FAQs. (Hover the mouse over the Getting There menu on the main Bett page to see the range of sub-menus available.)
Look into travel cards and Oyster
Top up your Oyster card if you have one, or look into travel cards and Oyster.
Download the Bett app
It’s on the Home page, and contains details of all the sessions. It’s pretty good, in that it contains details of all the events, and directories of exhibitors etc.
I think it would have been even better if it enabled you to personalise it by entering events in your calendar, and if it had included this guide. Still, it’s a big improvement on having to walk around with a huge tome to find out what’s on and where.
And it’s free.
Read the new Bett Stories
The posts there give a bit more information about some of the speakers.
Read the Bett Digital publications
See the list of digital publications for details. At the time of writing there is one available.
Bett is so huge, you gotta have a plan
Use Twitter for news
You can keep with news by following Bett on Twitter: @Bett_Show, and searching for #Bett_Show. I’ve been using the tags Bett, Bett Show and Bett2015 in my blog posts. But the official hashtag is #Bett2015.
Take part in a Bett Chat on Twitter
See the Bett Chat page for details.
Check out who else will be going
Oliver Quinlan has created a Google document on which you can list the day(s) you will be attending and what you’d be interested in discussing with others. Obviously you can also see who else has entered their details. Link: bit.ly/bett15rollcall.
Work out how to get there
- See the online directions.
- The directions on the Bett website (above) don't include buses. You can see which buses go to Custom House (the station for Excel) on the Custom House station page.
Print (or buy) a set of business cards
These are essential for entering competitions and, more importantly, for having information sent to you after the show. Also, of course, for exchanging details with any new acquaintanceships you make at the show. You can create a simple business card in Word (or similar), and you can buy perforated business card printer paper at a very reasonable price.
Buy a set of good quality business cards
I have never really understood the idea of having cheap business cards to give to other people. In my opinion, cheap business cards feel cheap. They’re fine for putting into boxes or jars for a prize draw, but not to represent yourself to other people.
Your business card represents you. Do you really want to convey the impression, however subliminally, that you don’t consider yourself worth investing a bit of money in?
Buy a business card holder
Taking a card out of a proper holder looks a bit more professional than fishing an old dog-eared one of your purse or back pocket. It gives you a decent place to store others’ cards too.
Buy a small stapler
This is useful for stapling your business cards to various forms on stands, such as the ones they provide for entering competitions. For some reason, exhibitors never seem to have a stapler themselves – must be a health and safety rule. Completing the same contact information over and over again is tedious and time-consuming – and in my case pointless because my handwriting is illegible.
Buy a notebook
I always carry a notebook and pen around with me, because I find it easier to make quick notes in the old-fashioned way than trying to thumb out a note to myself on my phone. However, I am not quite living in the dark ages in this respect though: I tend to use a Livescribe pocket notebook and pen.
Compile a stationery kit
This is probably not really necessary unless you intend to stay over and make loads of notes, but I’ll offer it anyway. When I was an Ofsted inspector I put together such a “kit” so I could work on the train, in school and in the hotel, annotating documents. Almost invariably, such tasks had to be done on paper, so I found having post-it notes, highlighters and other bits and pieces like elastic bands, paper clips and, yes, that stapler again, pretty handy.
But the thing is, at Bett, you might as well pick up a load of post-it notes, notebooks and pens while you’re there. And as for paper clips etc, exactly how much paper do you intend collecting?
Buy a good capacity USB stick
Sometimes someone will offer to let you have a document or presentation. If you have a USB stick with you they may be able to give it to you right away rather than emailing it later.
Buy a good capacity memory card
If, for example, your camera takes an SD card, you ought really to take a spare one along if you intend taking lots of video clips.
Buy a spare battery
For your camera, for instance, if you haven’t already got one.
Prepare lists of questions to ask the suppliers of particular products, if you are looking to purchase something. Different members of your team may have different questions, as suggested elsewhere: see 8 Sample questions to ask suppliers.
Do some team planning
With your team, decide on who is going to do what (if others are going as well). It is a good idea to avoid the temptation to fill every waking moment. I have found that you need to allow for serendipity, especially as some exhibitors are not listed until the last minute. I have also found that every so often you need to find a place to have coffee, think about what you have seen, plan ahead, and get rid of any unwanted paper you may have acquired on your travels.
Organise cover lessons if necessary
If technicians will be attending as well, try and select a day when the school’s computer facilities tend not to be in high demand, just in case something goes wrong. You should still ensure that at least one stays behind though.
Compile contact details
Prepare a list of phone numbers that the school secretary or someone else can contact for help if something dreadful happens.
Think of your feet
Buy comfortable shoes if you don’t already have a pair. Walking around all day on a thick carpet on a concrete floor is no joke.
Make a note of web access details
If you have the facility to do things like upload pictures from your phone to a website, or send an SMS to your blog in order to publish it as a blog post, make sure you have learnt or written down the access details you need.
Find out my personal recommendations
See my personal recommendations in the updated guide to Bett.
Find out what other people have recommended
I asked people what they were going to be looking at or going to at Bett. Their responses are listed in the updated guide to Bett.
On the way to the show, buy a bottle of water, because show prices tend to be higher than outside.
cross-posted at www.ictineducation.org
Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT consultant with over 35 years of experience in education. He publishes the ICT in Education website and the newsletter “Digital Education."