The BETT 2005 slogan promises the education world an opportunity to "take hold of the future". There is a sense, however, that educators have caught up with developers. The focus is less on the future, more on the here and now. What is on show, what can I use, what can I afford?
Geographers, as ever, have a lot to think about. GridClub has just launched My World, a site covering all elements of the key stage 2 geography curriculum. The graphics are lively and the activities demonstrate just how far thinking has progressed about what works, and what doesn't, with interactive media. The content covers UK rivers and coasts, and local geography as well as selected European and global themes. Check out in particular the animation of meander development and the "fishy tale". The former does what no static graphic can achieve and the latter is an opportunity to build your own documentary film by selecting clips and placing them in the right order. English andWelsh schools now have to pay for GridClub: subscriptions for the portal site and the "super clubs" are both pound;3 per child per year.
Gridclub's former parent, 4Learning, also has a strong humanities theme with six new ClipBank CD-Roms (pound;35 each plus VAT) targeted at KS2.
Localities around the World, Localities in the UK and Environmental Change tackle geography, while Tudor Times, Victorian Times and Britain Since 1930 complete the pack. There is nothing to fault in the content. Simple navigation, clear messages, engaging video clips and a host of clearly presented data combine to make these exemplary products of their type.
History teaching at KS3 will be well served by Harcourt's (Heinemann) publication of interactive elements for Think History! Described as "truly blended", the course comprises pupil books at both foundation and core levels for each year (pound;12.99 for Years 7 and 8, pound;13.99 for Year 9), teaching and learning files (pound;62 per year) and interactive presentations (pound;199 per year). From what one can see, this really is the complete interactive package, ranging from editable Word files in the Teaching and Learning element to pictures, animations and word games in the Interactive Presentations. Year 7 covers Changing Times 1066-1500, Year 8 Revolutionary Times 1500-1750 and Year 9 Modern Times 1750-1990.
Also for secondary teaching, Business Interactive sets standards that others may find hard to reach. This is a 10-CD interactive multimedia package designed to support both the Applied GCSE Double Award and the traditional GCSE in Business. It costs pound;2,250, which puts it beyond many schools but it is the complete deal. With extensive use of video and audio clips helping to create meaningful case studies, the learning process is enlivened and simplified. It's easy to believe the hype that it was created "for teachers by teachers". At BETT publishers Interactive Learning are launching Business Interactive Unit 4, a "bolt-on extra" covering marketing, production, human resources and additional aspects of finance, primarily for the traditional GCSE market. Around BETT, a special launch offer of pound;350 should attract new and existing purchasers.
Subject specialists will know what to look out for, either at the show or on the internet. This time of year is good for shopping around as some special offers coincide with BETT. Espresso's pricing - negotiated separately with LEAs - is always keen, so keep your fingers crossed for special offers on Transition, which they are highlighting in 2005. It's a set of interviews with young people that provides stimulus material for class work on tricky KS2 PSHE and citizenship issues. Espresso materials over the years have been practical, relevant and very usable.
There is a wealth of new eLC qualifying materials to see but many of the major traditional publishers, Pearson, Nelson Thornes and Cambridge University Press (with their new Hitachi link) among them seem to have science as their major focus. Maybe next year for humanities.
Another noticeable development is that many of this year's crop of teaching resources use the Microsoft software family based on Office to create "interactive" resources; worksheets, lessons plans, presentations, etc. It might be time to check out your department's stock of such software. The Microsoft stand at BETT (or the website) is always worth a visit.
A few minutes looking at Simple Solutions might also be time well spent.
This is their second year at BETT and they publish a number of (readily tailored) packages with such titles as Meeting Manager, Change Manager, Training Manager etc. From pound;300 upwards they could provide a good resource for larger departments.
Gridclub - My World Stand C102 www.gridclub.com
Interactive Learning - Business Interactive Stand SW85
Simple Solutions - Meeting Manager Stand SW70
Tel: 0115 877 1507
4LearningChannel4 Stand D42
Tel: 020 7306 5545
Espresso Education Stand D64
Tel: 0800 0345 200
Harcourt Education Stand W18
Tel: 01865 314405
Microsoft Stand D30
Tel: 0870 601 0100