Robots, Virtual Reality and coding – find out what this year’s Bett Show had in store
“An Aladdin’s cave for the education geek,” that’s how Education Secretary Damian Hinds described this year’s Bett show.
The 35th annual Bett show saw more than 34,000 attendees walk through the doors of London’s ExCel between 23rd-26th January with hopes of finding inspiration and to discuss the future of education.
A robotic Transformer certainly captured everyone’s attention as it danced down the aisles and Class VR’s DeLorean model also caught the eye.
Aside from the big shiny hardware, the edtech extravaganza also included plenty of free resources and apps for institutions running on a tight budget.
A Whole Other Reality
Alongside their DeLorean, ClassVR was one of many exhibitors offering a glimpse into the future as they displayed their VR headsets designed for education.
Their unique headset featured a see-through camera, and the ability to wirelessly communicate and, thanks to an enclosure representing a World War 1 trench; they demonstrated how they could fit into the national curriculum.
Students with special needs were also catered for with Sensory Guru presenting their Sensory VR, offering a wide variety of VR platforms for deployment.
First-hand accounts from teachers with experience of using VR in the classroom were just as insightful as the VR headsets and demonstrations.
Away from the mind-blowing technology which enables students to dive under the sea, blast off into Mars and tour a museum, it was teachers who were the biggest advocates with one telling Daisy she’d witnessed her pupils come on leaps and bounds while using VR.
However, due to tight budgets in schools is probably Augmented Reality (AR) that has the most potential to make an impact in the short term due to affordability.
Microsoft wasn’t holding back at Bett as they threw down the gauntlet to the dominant Chromebook by unleashing seven new Windows 10 devices which they hope will make a mark on education.
Competitively priced and with a range of sizes, formats and designs available they’re hoping 2019 will be the year they take back some of the education sector from Google’s grasp.
For the schools who can’t afford to spend thousands on a new range of devices, Neverware paraded their impressive software which transformed old laptops into Chromebooks through their affordable, cost-effective operating system.
Although some schools in the UK have iPads at their disposal, they are often part of a cart solution.
However, Bett heard that in the United States of America some schools have a fully deployed Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programme and have laptop back-ups should a student forget their iPad.
With countries adopting cost-effective, manageable and attainable tech solutions, could 2019 be the year BYOD enters the UK frame?
With the rapid rise of technology not just in education but across the globe, more and more skilled workers are needed in the industry.
Cisco advised that in the coming years, they will expect graduates to be skilled in IT security, programming and coding.
Microsoft’s STEM experience allowed visitors to experience just that at Bett as they were able to write code, create in 3D and build sensors.
According to STEM Learning, a UK provider of STEM careers support, STEM roles are expected to double in the next ten years.
However, STEM Learning predicts there will be a shortfall of 173,000 skilled workers, with 89% of STEM businesses struggling to recruit.
To combat this, UK education systems are incorporating more STEM teaching into their curriculum, with 3D printing, coding and robotics all key parts of the plan.
It’s Here to Stay
Despite the range of technology on offer, at the heart of all the solutions was education and helping to develop the next generation.
Although most schools are struggling for money to spend on technology, it’s here to stay, and with plenty of affordable solutions on offer, there’s an option for every budget.
With students increasing their technology usage outside of the school gates, it’s become expected that the same software will be available for them in schools; is it perhaps an injustice if it’s not?