For me, two things dominate the month of January: short-lived new year’s resolutions and the Bett Show, the annual ed-tech exhibition.
The latter is the perfect opportunity to think about what your ed-tech needs will be over the coming year and maybe even discover some tech that you didn’t know you needed – dangerous on the budget, that last one. Here are two things that I am looking forward to at this year’s show:
Updates to old favourites
This year will see several updates to classroom favourites, but the one I am most keen to set eyes on is an update to word-processing software Clicker. I’ve been a big fan of Clicker 6 for the last few years and have seen first-hand in my classroom how, if used effectively, it can help struggling writers.
Using the right combination of tools such as speech feedback, word prediction and personalised Clicker Sets, teachers can help to develop children into independent writers.
The word on the web seems to suggest that Clicker 7 will include new features such as Clicker Boards, a mind-mapping tool that turns into a word bank in one click; the ability to include audio notes within a document; and SuperKeys, an assistive keyboard that groups keys into clusters for easy access.
I also hear that if a school has a site licence, pupils and staff will have home access to Clicker 7, too. That could be a real game-changer.
I’m on the lookout for new ways that we could develop physical computing within schools. Products that combine programming, tinkering and making would be ideal.
With the tagline “the emotional robot for kids”, Aisoy1 V5 couldn’t fail to get my attention. You can easily programme these “social robots” in various computing languages, such as Scratch, Blockly and Python.
I do wonder what the limitations of a piece of kit such as this might be, but it’s definitely one I want to check out. I’ll also be keeping an eye on other robotic kits such as Makeblock and OhBot.
One thing that I’m feeling less drawn to than I have in the past is 3D printing kits. Don’t get me wrong, it must be cool, and you get to create an actual physical object in the end, but they are still pretty pricey and I’m not sure that I could really justify this purchase with the amount of use the children would get out of it.
Give me one for free, though, and I’m fairly sure that I could find a use for it (hint, hint).
That’s the thing when it comes to buying new tech: it always goes back to balancing cost and impact – and trying to resist buying stuff just because it’s cool.
This article is from the 15 January issue of TES. Pick up a copy of this week's TES magazine in print or online and get a free ed tech supplement. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. Or find the magazine in all good newsagents.