Despite its name, the annual BETT educational technology show is not strictly a technology show. It's true that as you walk around you'll see lots of gleaming boxes and plenty of smart software, but all this is simply a means to an end: to enhance teaching and learning. Amanda Peck, RM's head of primary business marketing, says: "Teachers want ICT that will support and deliver exciting lessons, help reduce their work load and meet the requirements of an ever-increasing number of government initiatives."
Anyone wanting to see how ICT can make a difference in the classroom (and beyond the school) should attend some of this year's packed seminar programme (p36). The seminars run in parallel with the main exhibition throughout the show. Many offer examples of good practice, as well as practical advice for using ICT across all subjects, ages and abilities.
Another event that will help teachers see how effective ICT can be in schools is the BectaTES Day of Good Practice (Thursday, 12 January). It starts with the Becta keynote speech from Dame Enid Bibby, head teacher at Wood Green High School in Wednesbury, who will give a head's view of ICT in schools, and the relevance of Shakespeare in a high-tech society in particular. Following this will be the presentation of the ICT in Practice Awards, one of the highlights at BETT. The awards recognise outstanding models of good practice by teachers and showcase inspiring and imaginative examples of ICT in the classroom.
The afternoon's events start with a TES keynote from Professor Tim Brighouse, chief adviser for London schools, and educational consultant, John Davitt, who will explore the theme: "How teachers change their practice and change the world". Then there will be a chance to meet teachers who are putting this into practice, with presentations from three of last year's winners: Tim Rylands, winner of the primary school category: Helen Newman, winner of the teaching foundation stage category; and Pete Wells, who won the inclusion primary and secondary category.
As part of its ICT week, Teachers' TV (stand X34) will be showing a programme on the Future Vision Awards Tour 2005, run by the Specialist Schools Trust and sponsored by Microsoft, Toshiba and Syscap. The awards are for schools across England that are transforming teaching and learning through ICT.
There will be many chances to witness the ability of ICT to foster creativity, including the Create at Bett stand, which offers various creative activities, including movie production, VJing and podcasting.
Collaborators include BBC Blast, Apple, Ultralab, DV in Education and Media Education Wales. Educational consultant Professor Stephen Heppell says:
"I've been talking for years about symmetry - people making their own stuff and not just taking content. Now it's finally happening."
Expect to see many games-type applications, says Graeme Duncan, chief operating officer of Caspian Learning. "Games-based learning is a growth area - there are a lot of people looking at using 3D games technology in their teaching and learning." Caspian (C100) will be showing 10 new 3D games-based learning packages for key stages 2-4, covering maths, literacy and business studies. Kar2ouche's Mission Maker is a 3D game-making tool developed by Immersive Education (D70) that allows users to create role-playing games for learning.
Even RM (E50) is exploring the appeal and engagement of games. The company will be demonstrating its EasiLearn Geography Island, which uses a games interface (see Web Extras). A number of seminars are also examining the role of games in education, including one by Professor Steve Molyneux, on Saturday 14 January, who will look at the games and the DiDa (Diploma in Digital Applications) qualification, which Caspian has developed resources for. On Thursday, January 12, David Buckingham and Diana Laurillard from the Institute of Education, London, will demonstrate how pupils can make their own games using Immersive's technology.
Now that almost every school has a high-speed broadband connection, online services and learning platforms are playing a greater role in education.
The 10 regional broadband consortia have connected many schools to the internet, and while we still don't have a complete National Education Network (see Web Extras), lots of online collaboration and communication is taking place. The South West Grid for Learning (L12), for example, has connected 86 per cent of its schools (2,400 in 15 LEAs), with all schools due to be linked up by summer 2006.
Learning platforms (also known as VLEs, MLEs and learning environments) will have a high profile at this year's BETT, particularly as the Government is expected to announce pound;40 million funding for LEAs and broadband consortia to buy them for schools. Paul Metcalfe, Capita's (D20) school e-learning manager, says his company will show a number of new offerings, including: the Sims Learning Gateway, which is based on Microsoft's Sharepoint technology, a range of new tools for Sims.net; and Granada Learning's Learnwise VLE and Curriculum Lesson Planner. These enable teachers to prepare and deliver lessons that can be linked electronically to a secondary school's timetable - or a primary's individual teacher plans.
Granada Learning's CourseBuilder (E40) is a publishing tool for secondary schools that allows teachers to make digital learning content and courses though a standard Windows interface and can be used with a wide range of file types of formats. The courses can be run on a school's VLE. Microsoft (D34) will be showcasing its Learning Gateway education portal and demonstrating how its Sharepoint technology can foster greater collaboration. Other learning platforms on show include RM's Kaleidos (E50), Ramesys' Assimilate (Z50) and UniServity's Connected Learning Community (see our competition, p48).
The BBC's stand (F30) is bound to attract much attention with the first public viewing of BBC Jam (formerly known as Digital Curriculum), a range of free online resources for students and teachers, with the accent now more on students. Culture Online (W2) will also be displaying a range of free educational resources for KS 1-4, including art, history, music and film-making packages. But don't forget to look out for the vast range of commercial online resources and services, such as Grid Club from Grid Learning (C90) and Espresso (D64). If you're not sure what's available online, check out School Zone (V29), which has information on tens of thousands of online resources.
Watch also for interesting hardware from companies such as Apple (E34), with its new video iPods, AlphaSmart (W60), Data Harvest (L40) and RM (E50) - the latter's offerings include the RM Mobile One, a laptop designed for the classroom, and RM Window Box Open, which lets schools select pre-installed software and install their own. And don't forget to seek out the fantastic range of software from companies such as 2Simple (C54), Crick (B38), Crocodile Clips (D74), Easy Peasy (SW46), Kudlian (M100), Semerc (F40), Sherston (E60), Softease (C56), Sunflower (Q24) and Topologika (B40).
If you can't make it to this year's BETT, do not despair. Teachers' TV will be transmitting highlights of the show each evening and RM will be running its Virtual BETT website again. Last year's show is at www.rm.combett2005 and this year's will soon be live.
BectaTES Day of Good Practice
If you want see how ICT can be used in the classroom to excite, inspire, motivate and stimulate students, this is the event to see. It runs all day and includes keynotes, awards ceremonies and presentations from award winners.
BETT Tours Stand F76
A fantastic idea and it's a wonder no one thought of it before. The BETT Show is big and it's easy to get lost among the myriad stands. BETT Tours offers a great way of finding the things that interest you at the show by focusing on specific areas of interest and seeking out relevant stands. The tours are being offered by the IT Learning Exchange, an advisory, training and support service for London schools (although the tours are open to all teachers). They will take six to eight people (plus an adviser from the ITLE), and cover topics such as whiteboards, networks, ICT for early years, control and data-logging, and policy and practice. The tours last 60 to 90 minutes each and take place on Thursday to Saturday, starting at 11 am and 2pm from the ITLE's stand. Director Steve Oram says: "We will be offering schools free and independent advice."
BBC Jam Stand F300
The long-awaited and controversial online digital content from the BBC will be seen at BETT for the first time before its official launch at the end of January. The first modules consist of maths and English for 5-7 year olds, geography and science for 7-9 year olds, French for 11-14 year olds and business studies for 14-16 year olds. The BBC plans to launch 20 subject modules in 2006.
www.bbc.co.ukjam (from end of January)
More features, round-ups and reviews online. See page 2 for details www.tes.co.ukonline