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Winners and whiteboards

Yolanda Brooks looks at some of the promising new items unveiled at BETT 2002

David and Goliath shared the glory at the BETT Awards - the most sought-after prizes in the educational ICT industry - at the 2002 BETT show in January. Minnows included 2Simple Software, with only three full-time staff. Formed 15 months ago by former teacher Nigel Canin, the company's first product, the 2Simple Toolkit, took gold in both primary software categories. While Toolkit has been making its presence felt in schools over the past year, 2Simple has been developing two new primary titles - 2Review, a book-review software package for libraries, and Simple Science, aimed at key stage 2.

Another small company, the Skills Factory, which produces Literacy Complete and Numeracy Complete, also picked up honours. For the second year running, its primary planning and assessment packages were judged the best School Management Solution. A new CD-Rom, Curriculum Complete, covering all the primary curriculum, has proved a big hit with teachers keen to cut down on paperwork.

Batting for the big boys was Granada Learning, whose website, Primary Zone, won the Online Learning Resource - Subscription award. The site, which has 11,000 subscribing schools, was launched at the 2001 BETT Show.

SEMERC, the special-needs arm of Granada Learning, produced one of the most interesting new resources of the show with its Just Like cross-platform package for primary PSHE. Just Like incorporates CD-Roms, books, and a giant circle-time board game. The series covers five issues - bullying, parental expectations, conflict at home, coping with loss, and disruptive behaviour. Each element tackles the issues in a different way. The books, CD-Roms and circle game can work as individual packages, but the media mix makes this a promising resource.

Kar2ouche software came on to the market last year as the result of a collaboration between the company Immersive Education and Oxford University. The first titles covered Shakespeare at secondary level, but Immersive has now issued a raft of key stage 2 products. Four new primary titles - Vikings, Romans, Egyptians and Shakespeare - were unveiled at the show. Kar2ouche products are not just about spoon-feeding information and setting questions. Creativity is an important part of every package, and its storyboard approach to learning enables pupils to engage in role-play and create their own stories while learning about the subject.

The family-run business Widgit is offering free online content in partnership with Rara Avis rainforest nature reserve in Costa Rica and Tools for Inclusion, a New Opportunities-funded consortium for training teachers in the use of ICT with special needs children. Accessible symbols allow special needs children to use the environmental website. Visit it at: www.widgit.co. ukrainforesthtmlstart.htm.

There were no spectacular hardware developments (unless you include the sleek new iMac, which is really a consumer product). There seemed to be an interactive whiteboard on every stand, a sign perhaps that these are becoming much sought-after bits of classroom kit. Three whiteboard companies - Promethean, Smart Technologies and Mimio - were nominated in both primary and secondary hardware categories. Promethean won both awards with ActivBoard Plus.

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