Each January, thousands of educators come together for Bett at the ExCel in London to discuss the evolving education industry and the further incorporation of technology in education that will enhance the classroom experience. The exciting combination of over 800 well-established companies as well as 103 innovative start-ups demonstrated the openness of discussions that took place at Bett, making it an exhibition with a lot to offer.
Opportunities to learn
While Bett remains an education technology exhibition, the edtech developers on show understood that not everyone attending may have the expertise to implement emerging technologies as part of their classroom experience. The attention to detail was evident across the Learning Tech section of the venue with many companies using interactive learning to help visitors understand not only how to utilise their products, but why it will help pupils and teachers alike. This was fundamental to the 2020 exhibition’s themes — ‘Empowering Teaching and Learning’.
One company that executed this to perfection was Microsoft. A global brand, Microsoft demonstrated that they knew exactly how to engage with visitors on all levels —from seasoned professionals in the edtech industry to those simply willing to learn more about the evolving nature of education. Through hosting the Microsoft Training Academy, Microsoft gave attendees the opportunity to enhance their teaching skills through learning about a wide array of tools.
This included the ‘Building an app in 25 minutes or less to free up teacher time’ session which was open to individual teachers as well as institutions themselves. By the end of the session, Microsoft guaranteed that teachers would be able to understand and follow online training programmes as well as build basic apps themselves. The confident approach displayed by Microsoft drew in visitors to their stand, and the clarity of their edtech sessions left visitors with an opportunity to share what they had learnt with their peers at school.
What was also striking about Bett was its accessibility. The theme ‘Inclusion, social mobility and SEND’ focused on giving opportunities to learners that may be socially and economically disadvantaged, as well as those that may have special educational needs and disability (SEND). This can range from communication and interaction difficulties to emotional and mental health conditions.
This inclusivity was demonstrable through the ‘No Internet? No Problem!’ session held by Mark Baker, the Lead Project Manager at Alpha Publishing as part of the Tech in Action theatre. Mark discussed the difficulties and challenges that come with being a teacher or pupil that has very limited access to internet facilities outside of school hours, and ways this can be addressed. To combat this, Alpha Publishing have developed eAlpha, a mobile eLearning platform across all devices which allows the end user to download any required lesson content or assignment. Users can then continue their work without requiring an internet connection.
The session provided great insight on the need for greater access to social mobility, and the obstacles that come with socioeconomic disadvantages and how developing inclusive technology can empower those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Bett 2020 had something for everybody. Not only did it allow educators to improve their overall understanding of edtech from a beginner, intermediate or experienced perspective, it also allowed them to network with like minded individuals that may be able to improve the overall classroom experience.