With so many humanities exhibitors at BETT this year, you might be wondering which to visit. Our answer to this conundrum? The BETT best-of-breed awards.
First up, the long service award for ICT in education. The winner is Anglia Multimedia, whose AngliaCampus has been nominated for a BETT 2001 award as the best website in its class. Anglia has long been providing best-in-class products and this Internet subscription service for schools, with over 10,000 pages of content written by teachers, is highly recommended. AngliaCampus was launched in January 1999 and already has 3,500 schools using the website. The runner-up in this category is Ordnance Survey, which has invested vast amounts in digital mapping. It is the big name in maps, and still offers the biggest choice.
Next up is the Burberry award for re-invention. A long, long time ago book publishers jumped on the new technology bandwagon. They would, they thought, dominate the nascent market. It didn't turn out that way and very few lasted the pace. But Heinemann and Longman (now Pearson) stuck at it. This year, Heinemann is highlighting its ICT activities in geography, history and RE (KS3-4). Meanwhile, Pearson Education's Logotron subsidiary (not at BETT) features a range of products, with The Tudors and Maps and Mapping (KS2) leading the way. In both, the result is guaranteed quality content, which is sometimes linked to paper publications.
The Posh and Becks award for sharing. Why buy something for your department alone when you can share it? Drag your maths or science colleagues along to the Texas Instruments (TI) stand to play with a range of palmtop graphing calculators and other data-capture tools. They're brilliant for both field work and course work presentations in all humanities subjects. Many of the TI tools are designed primarily for maths applications with humanities perhaps using only 25 per cent of their capacity (so you only pay for 25 per cent). In the same field, Commotion, a small company specialising in science kit, will premiere a new data-logger. This is ideal for primary schools. It will also have a range of analysis tools on show.
The big screen soon award. Large interactive screens for digital displays and conventional board marking are becoming ever more popular, and there is now a wide choice available. It's probably best to begin with the Interactive Whiteboard Company. Its products appear to be the most versatile, but you should compare prices with Promethean, which has a smaller but more dedicated range. In all case, you should have a play with the boards at BETT and check their interconnectivity before buying (see page 56). You want to make sure that any new board really does plug into your laptop.
The best show in town. If you fancy taking the weight off your feet for 20 minutes and listening to an excellent speaker, try Dave Hassell, head of curriculum and institutional development at Becta. One of his many lectures at BETT 2001 will study a range of projects that have maximised Internet opportunities in geography. There is nothing like a case study to see how an approach recommended by another school could translate to your own. And for luvvies, try and bag a ticket for Lord David Puttnam's contemplation of the impact of ICT in education on teachers, learners, educational institutions and parents. He asks what can we learn, and what can we celebrate? We ask, what's this Hollywood director got to do with schools?
If you only visit one stand this year, make it the BBC's. BBC Online, in particular, is the perfect gateway for teachers and students. The phrase "national treasure" is an apt description of the resources for schools, not least of which are the online broadcasts and webcam services that have a thousand classroom uses.
Finally, if you have any energy left, then try the TES stand. There's a chance to win a PC and you can check out those reviews you wanted to keep and forgot... and you can job hunt too.
Graham Hart is a freelance writer and works in educational publishing
Anglia Multimedia: Stand F44
Tel: 01603 760000
BBC Education (BBC Online): Stand F30
Commotion: Stand M50
Tel: 01732 773399
Heinemann: Stands PZ14, PZ18 and PZ20
Tel: 01865 311366
Interactive Whiteboard Company: Stand Q40
Tel: 0117 9008266
Tel: 01223 425558
Ordnance Survey: Stand E82
Tel: 023 80792283
Promethean: Stand V60
Texas Instruments: Stand V40
Tel: 01604 663003
The Times Educational Supplement: Stand E20
Tel: 0207 782 3000
Thursday Theatre A 11.00am
Teachers make a difference, what about ICT?, Lord David Puttnam
Booking reference A4
Friday Theatre D 2.00pm
Adding Real Value to Geography with the Internet, Dave Hassell
Booking reference D11